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Field School students excavating and mapping.

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 23, 2023). Investigations will be based locally, continuing the RLA’s long-standing Siouan Project begun in the 1980s to understand how Native Siouan-speaking peoples living in what is today central North Carolina navigated new challenges and opportunities brought about by European settlement and colonization in the region.

Investigation Areas

This summer’s field school will begin to continue to assess an area that have significant potential to contain important Native American settlements during the late pre-colonial and colonial periods. The first area we plan to investigate is along New Hope Creek near Chapel Hill, where historical evidence and local tradition suggest the presence of one or more archaeological sites that were occupied into the colonial period. Our second study area is along Eno River in Hillsborough, where previous UNC field schools have excavated extensively at the Wall, Fredricks, Jenrette, and Hogue sites. This summer’s work will investigate adjacent landforms with the expectation of identifying additional important sites. We will be working in collaboration with Duke Forest on New Hope Creek.

This summer, archaeological survey and test excavations will reveal new insights into Indigenous land use practices and settlement. 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. Students will recover artifacts and reveal traces of houses and other features that document Native American occupations in these two areas leading up to the eve of European colonization of North America, and possibly extending into the historic period.


Ceramics from the Wall site.

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 15. 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. Heather Lapham and Dr. Mary Beth Fitts, with additional instruction from graduate assistants.

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 students’ time will be spent in the field.

The 2016 Field School and crew 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 food.


Schedule, Transportation, and Equipment

The Field School will run from May 17 to June 23, 2023 (Summer Session I). Daily transportation to the site, as well as all field equipment, will be provided by the University.

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. Heather Lapham (Email:

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. UNC applicants must arrange for a brief interview; non-UNC applicants should submit at least one letter of reference. In order to be guaranteed full consideration, potential students should apply no later than March 15, 2023.

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