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Grand Forks, ND

Archeological Field School, 2010

Fort Clark Mandan VillageField Techniques In Archeology

Anthropology 380, 6 credits
Dates: May 24 - July 2, 2010
Instructor: Dr. Dennis L. Toom
Application Deadline: Friday, April 16, 2010


The Department of Anthropology, University of North Dakota, invites students to attend its Archeological Field School in the summer of 2010. The six-week field class will cover archeological excavation techniques and precision mapping. The field school is scheduled to take place from 24 May through 2 July 2010. The course is being offered in cooperation with the National Park Service.

  Mandan Eartlodge interior

The 2010 summer field school will be held at the Elbee and Karishta sites, located within the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Mercer County, ND (map). This National Historic Site was established in 1974 to preserve over 50 archeological sites located near the mouth of the Knife River in west-central North Dakota. The most notable of these sites are the large earthlodge villages which reflect the culture and hunter-agricultural lifestyle of Northern Plains Village Indians, primarily the Hidatsa and Mandan. Circular earthlodge depressions abound at the larger villages, where the largest earthlodge depressions reach up to 40 feet in diameter.


Elbee Site (32ME408)

Overview of the Elbee Site

The Elbee Site is a multi-component site located along the Knife River. Excavations in 1978 revealed as many as eight cultural components, the most prominent being a Plains Village occupation dating to the period A.D. 1520-1630. Excavations revealed a circular earthlodge house feature, cache pits, and a dense accumulation of artifacts, including native pottery, lithics, and bone. In 2003 the UND field school was held in the northern part of the site. These excavations uncovered two cache pits and a hearth.


    Elbee site overview   Test unit excavations   Soil profiling


In 2010, the UND archeological field school will return to Elbee to carry out additional excavations. The site was recently damaged by high water and ice flows in the Knife River, which borders the site. River erosion has exposed features and artifacts along the entire length of the site. Two archeological features are presently exposed along the river and will be excavated in 2010. The goal of the 2010 will be salvage as much archeological information as possible, before the features and other parts of the archeological deposit are lost to future erosion.

Elbee Site geophysical survey map resultsA geophysical survey of the Elbee site will occur before the field school, in advance of the NPS Midwest Archeological Center's Geophysical/Archeological Prospection Workshop. Our students will have the opportunity to observe the workshop and gain exposure to this ever expanding field of archeology. Students will receive hands-on training and experience in the traditional areas of archeological research: the use of different kinds of field equipment and techniques for excavation and artifact recovery, site mapping, documentation, and record keeping. Use of modern electronic mapping techniques and instruments will be demonstrated, including an electronic total station and global positioning system (GPS) receiver.

Field school students will have the opportunity to conduct excavations at the Karishta site (32EM466), a nearby archeological site within the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, which has also been affected by river erosion. If time permits, students will have the opportunity to do archeological survey work elsewhere in the Knife River drainages of western North Dakota.


Field Trips and Other Activities

Field trips are planned to archeological and other sites of interest in the Northern Plains. We may visit some or all of the following places:


Employment After School

UND Anthropology Research anticipates a busy schedule of archeological fieldwork this summer after the field school is over. There is a distinct possibility that we will be able to hire students to work as professionals on various field research projects during the rest of the summer.


Field School Credits and Cost

The field school will be offered as a regular six-week class from May 24th through July 2nd, 2010. Students can enroll for up to six semester hours of undergraduate credit in Anthropology 380, Field Techniques in Archaeology (one credit hour per week). The application deadline is April 16, 2010. Enrollment is limited so please apply early.

Costs of the field school include:

  • a $35.00 admission fee (only applies to students newly enrolled to UND)
  • standard tuition and fees (see table below; rates subject to change without notice)


Undergraduate Residency Category

North Dakota


Minnesota (with reciprocity)


Contiguous States & Provinces, Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), & Midwestern Higher Education Consortium (MHEC):

States: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY. Canadian Provinces: Manitoba and Saskatchewan.


All Other States and Provinces (Nonresident)



Lodging and food will be provided. Local transportation, camping equipment (if needed), and all field equipment are also provided. Additional information regarding UND tuition and fees is available from the UND Student Account Services Office.


Application and Contact Information

For application forms and more information, students should contact Dr. Dennis L. Toom by phone (701-777-2437) or email ( The application is available online as a PDF file for you to print out. Completed applications should be mailed to:

Dr. Dennis L. Toom
Anthropology Research
Department of Anthropology
University of North Dakota
236 Centennial Drive Stop 7094
Grand Forks, ND 58202-7094

Application forms are also available for general distribution in the Anthropology Department main office in Babcock Hall Room 104, on the UND campus in Grand Forks.

created 8 February 2010


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