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Work on a tropical island
Training students since 2013
Low Cost for an international field school
Low student to professor Ratio
Student publication and conference presentation opportunities
Location: Isla Palenque, Panama
Season Dates: June 13 to July 3, 2023
Institution: College of Lake County (near Chicago)
Principal Investigators: Dr. Scott Palumbo (College of Lake County); Dr. William Locascio (Florida Gulf Coast University).
The Chiriquí Archaeological Project is proud to be one of the most economical non-profit field schools in Latin America, and one which offers six transferable college credits while maintaining a very low faculty to student ratio. You will be involved in an active research project with involving excavation, survey, and lab analysis. The cost of the field school subsidizes many of the research expenses and covers your in-country expenses.
The 2023 field school will map and excavate the La Pitahaya archaeological site. La Pitahaya is a large pre-Columbian village notable for its dense nucleation. The site contains numerous earthen mounds, stone pillars, and residential sectors dating primarily to a poorly understood period of time (A.D. 900 to 1100) between earlier Formative period and Chiriquí period. This era was associated with a number of conspicuous social changes around the isthmus, including population growth, greater monumentality, and clear evidence for rank differentiation.
Our current research questions deal with the organization of particular domestic activities. We seek to understand 1) if craft production and ceremonial activities were realized within La Pitahaya, 2) if and how these practices were associated with evidence for social rank, and 3) how these patterns changed over time. Each student will learn compass and tape mapping, shovel testing, pedestrian survey, stratigraphic excavation, laboratory processing and artifact cataloguing. Interested students will have additional opportunities to conduct community outreach, learn the basics of ArcGIS, co-author portions of the annual site report and collect data that may inform individual research projects in future years.
The Gulf of Chiriquí is a tranquil, beautiful and comfortable area for foreigners (see travel.state.gov for information). La Palenque is centered in a picturesque coastal setting, and is currently owned by a luxury ecolodge where students will have the opportunity to live and work. Overflow accommodations will be based in Boca Chica, a small port town with access to a general store, small restaurants and high-speed internet. Western Panama is directly on the ‘tourist trail’, but you will still be expected to try to speak some Spanish, sample the area cuisine, observe local customs, etc. We run a six day work week (Sundays off), with rainy afternoons, some Saturdays, and most of the final week spent in the lab. You can expect to spend approximately 140 total hours at work during the project, split between the field and the lab. We also offer evening lectures on field and lab methods, the archaeology of the region, data analysis, and archaeological theory. We typically eat a fruit breakfast and bag lunch during the day and dinner will be arranged through the resort (vegetarian friendly). The first few days in Panama will be spent touring the capital city of Panama City and the canal, the final few days will tour the nearby highlands which are home to other notable archaeological sites.
The field school is offered through the College of Lake County (or CLC) in Illinois. Students must enroll for six semester credits. Four of these are connected to Anthropology 240: Field Methods in Anthropology and the remaining two are offered through Anthropology 241: Lab Methods in Anthropology. The project will be formally permitted by the Patrimonio Histórico in Panama. The program fee ($2290) covers your basic expenses within Panama during the project dates (e.g. lodging, meals, in-country transportation, etc.), the costs of conducting research (e.g. equipment, fuel, worker pay, etc.,) and associated project expenses (e.g. equipment storage, printing costs, radiocarbon dates, etc.).
All registered participants will be required to:
- Enroll as a College of Lake County student for the duration of the project
- Enroll for six semester credits
- Submit the full payment by the middle of the spring semester
- The physical ability and willingness to work outside for nine hours at a time doing manual labor
- Understand that they may share accomodations with one or two other students of the same sex
- Conduct a personal phone interview with one of the Principal Investigator s(if requested)
The $2,290 program fee DOES cover:
- Lodging and meals in Panama for seven days per week
- International traveler’s insurance
- Laundry service
- Transportation within Panama
- Hotel accommodations in Panama City
- Group excursions
- Internet access
- Access to all of the recommended reading materials
This program fee DOES NOT cover: (totaling an additional $700-1000)
- College of Lake County tuition*
- International airfare
- Passport fees (approximately $135. If you do not already have one, anticipate 6 weeks for processing)
- Personal equipment (rain gear, trowel, field clothes, cameras, etc.)
- Visa fees (if you are not an American citizen)
- Transportation to and from your home airport
- Miscellaneous personal expenses
* Tuition rates vary by residency at the College of Lake County.
The program offers open enrollment. Interested applicants must submit their application through CLC’s Center for Global Engagement under the link for “Panama: Chiriquí Archaeological Project”:
To ensure acceptance to the field school, applicants must meet the minimum standards described above and send a non-refundable deposit at least $500 (this is only refundable if the field school is canceled). Payment of the remainder of the program fee is due by March 1, 2023 to guarantee a spot on the team. The field school requires a minimum of 3 credit seeking students to run, and is capped at 9 students to ensure an optimal faculty-to-student ratio. Preference is given to credit seeking students who have had some exposure to archaeology. If the program becomes filled, a wait-list will be generated and applicants notified of their position.
Additional Information: Please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Scott Palumbo, through the project website or by his office phone; (847) 543-2931.
Period(s) of Occupation: San Lorenzo Period (AD 900-1100)
Project Size: 3-9 participants
Minimum Age: 18
Room and Board Arrangements
Students will be housed in an ecolodge or local hotel and dinners contracted through a local cook. Breakfasts usually involve fruit and coffee, bag lunches are arranged in the field. Students can expect to share same-sex accommodations with other students.
Name of institution offering credit: College of Lake County
Number of credits offered: Six (4 for Field Methods and 2 for Lab Methods)
Tuition: varies depending on residency status
Dr. Scott Palumbo
19351 W. Washington St.
Grayslake, IL 60030
spalumbo AT clcillinois.edu
Hester, Thomas R., Harry J. Shafer, and Kenneth L. Feder. 2009, Field methods in Archaeology (7th edition). Routledge.
Linares, Olga. 1968. Cultural chronology of the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Linares, Olga, and Anthony Ranere (editors). 1980. Adaptive radiations in prehistoric Panama. Peabody Museum Monographs, number 8. Harvard University.
Quilter, Jeffrey. 2004, Cobble circles and standing stones: Archaeology at the Rivas Site, Costa Rica. University of Iowa Press.
Sutton, Mark, and Brooke Arkush. 2019. Archaeological laboratory methods: An introduction (7th edition). Kendall Hunt Publishing.