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Excavations at Duke Forest during the 2022 Field School.

Have you ever wanted to participate in an archaeological excavation? And do so locally, near your own backyard? This course will give you the opportunity to do just that while earning six (6) hours of college credit and living in Chapel Hill. This year’s Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) field school, taught by Dr. Heather Lapham and Dr. Mary Beth Fitts, will take place during Summer Session 1 (May 17 – June 22, 2023). Investigations will be based locally, continuing the RLA’s long-standing Siouan Project begun in the 1980s to understand how Indigenous Siouan-speaking peoples living in what is today central North Carolina navigated new challenges and opportunities brought about by European colonization in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Field school students will learn the basic techniques of archaeological excavation and ethics as well as mapping, surveying, photography (including 3D photography), artifact identification, and data interpretation. Although some classroom and laboratory instruction will be given, most of the time will be spent in the field.

Investigation Areas

This summer’s field school will continue to assess areas along New Hope Creek in Duke Forest that have significant potential to contain important late pre-colonial and colonial American Indian settlements. Historical evidence and local tradition suggest the presence of one or more villages occupied into the early eighteen century.

Archaeological survey and test excavations undertaken this summer will reveal new insights into Indigenous land use practices and settlement of Siouan-speaking peoples who occupied the area during the past thousand years and whose descendants still reside here today. We are particularly interested in studying how Indigenous peoples shaped the landscape, what natural resources they exploited, where they chose to settle and for how long, and how lifeways changed through time.


Surveying along New Hope Creek during the 2022 Field School.

The Field School is open to undergraduate students and anyone with a college degree. Participants must enroll in Anthropology 451 for 6 credit hours. This course fulfills the Experiential Education, Historical Analysis, and World Before 1750 general education requirements and the Archaeology Major requirements for a field school. There are no formal prerequisites, but potential students must fill out a Field School Application Form by MARCH 10. Enrollment will be limited to about 12 students. Applicants will be informed as to whether they have been accepted into the course by April 1. The course will be taught by Dr. Lapham and Dr. Fitts, with additional instruction from graduate assistants.


2019 Field School at the Wall site.


Tuition for undergraduates is estimated (based on last year’s amounts) as follows: about $1758 for North Carolina residents ($293 per credit hour), and $5760 for out-of-state residents ($960 per credit hour). These estimates may change by the time of registration. Students will need to arrange their own local housing and meals.


Schedule, Transportation, and Equipment

The Field School will run from May 17 to June 22, 2023 (Summer Session I). Daily transportation to the site, as well as all field equipment, will be provided by the RLA.

Inquiries, Applications, and Deadlines

Recovering artifacts during the 2017 Field School excavations at Old Town.

Interested in learning more? You can read about the Siouan Project and watch a video about the 2015 Field School at the Wall site in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Inquiries about the Siouan Project Field School are welcome and should be made to Dr. Lapham ( or Dr. Fitts (

Because enrollment is limited, students must apply in advance by filling out a Field School Application Form and obtain permission from the professors to register by arranging a brief interview with Dr. Lapham and Dr. Fitts (Schedule here: In order to be guaranteed full consideration, potential students should apply no later than March 10, 2023.

Visiting students may obtain additional information from UNC’s Summer School.