TACL Collections Based Field School Offered Summer 2024
The Arkansas Archeological Survey in partnership with the Institute of Field Research will offer a 5 week curation-focused field school June 16 – July 19, 2024 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In this course, students will have the opportunity to learn about archeological collection and database management, collaborate with representatives from Tribal Nations, and visit a variety of museums and curation facilities to learn about the different ways organizations with different missions care for their artifact collections. The full course syllabus is available on the IFR website, where students also register to attend the program. Field school directors are Michelle Rathgaber, PhD, RPA and Sarah Shepard, MA, RPA.
The focus of this field school is the archeological curation crisis, how it happened, and how archeologists and museums are working to solve it. The readings and lectures will cover best practices in curation of artifacts and archiving of paperwork based on National Park Service standards that are supported by the Society for American Archaeology and the Society for Historical Archaeology and followed by museums and collections facilities across the United States. Lab work will focus on what the Arkansas Archeological Survey is doing to assess and curate artifacts and projects that were done in the past without a solid plan for long-term curation of either the artifacts or the paperwork and data generated by the project.
The Couch Site (3PI0098) collection will be the primary focus of the lab work. The field school will be based out of the archeology lab at the ARAS Coordinating Office in Fayetteville but 3PI0098 is a site in southwestern Arkansas, the traditional homeland of the Caddo Nation. To better understand the cultural considerations and concerns of archeological research, we will take a field trip to visit the site from which the artifacts were excavated, as well as other sites in southwest Arkansas. We will also meet with members of the Caddo Nation for presentations and discussions about their culture and history and their concerns about and hopes for archeological research. In addition to learning specifically about Caddo archeology and culture, we will also visit a variety of museums and collections storage facilities in northwest Arkansas to learn about how other museums handle their objects and how they have solved various storage issues. In addition, we will have a variety of speakers from Tribal Historic Preservation Offices of other Tribal Nations present about topics of curation and archeology to get a wide variety of perspectives on archeology and archeological curation.