Wright State University's Field School in Archaeology
The Field School in Archaeology is the summer-only course conducted as ATH 369/569 for 12 hours of credit (quarter system) that provides students with hands-on archaeological survey and excavation experience. It is a C term summer course and meets five days per week and about seven hours each day.
During the past six field seasons the Field School has been investigating a large ceremonial structure at the Fort Ancient Earthwork, a National Historic Landmark site located in northern Warren County. Fort Ancient is the largest hilltop enclosure in Ohio, built by the people of the Hopewell culture (c. 100 BC – AD 400). The ceremonial feature, dubbed the Moorehead Circle, was discovered in 2005 through the use of remote sensing techniques. The WSU archaeological program has uncovered evidence that it once contained three concentric rings of standing wooden posts set in a 60-meter diameter circular arrangement. It is believed to have been built as an important element in the ritual life of the Hopewell people of Fort Ancient, but exactly how it was used is still unclear.
During the past decade the Field School has also worked at the Pollock Works hilltop enclosure in Greene County, several small rockshelter sites with prehistoric components, the site of the Wright Cycle Company in Dayton, where the Wright Brothers invented powered flight, and a housesite related to the Underground Railroad.
The Field School is directed by Dr. Robert Riordan, who is assisted each summer by 2-3 supervisory staff members. Students are presumed to have had no previous field experience, and can be from any major. In recent years there have also been numerous student participants from schools other than Wright State. Students go through a three day orientation program at the start, followed by several days of site location survey work, when local agricultural fields are systematically searched for the artifacts that define site locations, and then go into the excavation phase.