Where your future in archaeology begins...

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Central America- Panama- Sitio Drago Field School- 2014

Central America- Panama- Sitio Drago Field School- 2014

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2014-07-06
End Date 2014-08-09

Archaeology Field School Location

Panama- Bocas del Toro

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution

Institute for Field Research, UCLA/STRI, Patronato Panama Viejo

Academic Credit

Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through our academic partner, Connecticut College. Connecticut College is a private, highly ranked liberal arts institution. Students will receive a letter grade for attending this field school (see grading assessment and matrix, below). This field school provides a minimum of 192 direct instructional hours.

Archaeology Field School Tuition

$ 4,750; includes tuition, cost of credit units, and room & board.

Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

Fee includes registration, accommodations, program activities, meals on workdays, and health insurance. Airfare, weekend meals and optional excursions are additional.

Archaeology Field School Description

This course is designed to provide practical experience in archaeological field techniques in a neotropical environment. The course will focus on archaeological field and laboratory methods geared towards developing a fuller understanding of the history and prehistory of the Bocas del Toro region. Lectures and readings will provide students a basic understanding of the archaeology of the region and the theories that drive its study. This course will emphasize the relationships between humans and the environment and will examine site locations, material culture, and subsistence remains in this rich neotropical coastal setting.
From 1980 to 2005 Panama’s Caribbean Bocas del Toro Province was assumed to have been settled only 1400 years ago and to have remained isolated throughout its brief prehistory. Recent research on Isla Colon has uncovered much evidence to the contrary. This project seeks to provide a broader range of information to better evaluate the region’s settlement history and developing social complexity. To date the Proyecto Arqueológico Sitio Drago has located many archaeological sites, uncovered evidence of a much older settlement history and illustrated evidence of contact with cultures hundreds of kilometers away.
The 2014 field season will focus primarily on excavation and data recovery from a mortuary area in the central part of Sitio Drago. Previous excavation has uncovered an area adjacent to 5 burials that is rich in artifacts and faunal remains indicative of some sort of ritual feasting activity. We will continue working in this area and gather data to better understand the nature of the proposed ritual behavior and social structure at the site. We may also focus excavation on one of the larger mounds at the site – Mound 6. Mound 6 was tested in 2003 and yielded a variety of data including imported fine ceramics. The positive results from 2003 helped to drive the project forward. A larger sample size is necessary to adequately compare this habitation mound with another large mound at the west end of the site that appears to represent a high status dwelling, yielding imported ceramics, high-status ornaments and other fine artifacts.
Field work will involve archaeological site detection and recordation, otherwise known as survey. The course will include excavation at Sitio Drago and recovery of archaeological remains. A laboratory component will provide experience in cataloging and analysis of recovered archaeological materials including ceramics, lithics, shell, plant and animal remains. Several natural history walks, including visiting local coral reefs, primates and bird rookeries, will highlight the interaction between humans and the local Neotropical environment

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Time Period


Field School Setting/Conditions

Student housing is located in Boca del Drago, Isla Colón. Student housing consists of a large rented vacation house, 50m from a white sand beach and 20m from the main road. The house contains 2 indoor showers and 4 indoor toilets. 2 outdoor showers are also available. A maid will clean the bathrooms and public areas of the house once a week. Students will be responsible for maintaining cleanliness and organization at all times. A reverse osmosis water filtration system will provide pure drinking water at the student house.

What is the daily schedule for the field school


Directors and Instructors

Dr. Thomas A. Wake, UCLA/STRI (; Dr. Tomás E. Mendizabal, Patronato Panama Viejo

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn

All students will receive practical, hands-on training in:
? GPS Location and Mapping
? Field Survey methods
? Electrical survey methods
? Technical excavation methods
? Wet screening and flotation collection
? Field Laboratory methods
One continuing aspect of this project involves the accurate mapping of the site. The current Sitio Drago map is based on detailed topographic map of the core area, GPS plotting of the most obvious mound tops and tape and compass measurements of their dimensions. The project will use GPS equipment to accurately map the site, any significant surface finds, and any excavation units. Mapping will continue throughout the field project as necessary.
Excavation plans include further excavation in an area near coral slab alignments discovered during tree planting activity. These alignments turned out to represent at least 5 burials. Of particular interest is an area adjacent to the mortuary area that has yielded fine imported ceramics smashed in situ, hundreds of shell beads, the only Spondylus shells yet found at the site and a tremendous concentration of ceramics, shell and bone. The project will continue to attempt to locate architectural remains, stratified deposits for radiometric dating and artifacts that can provide information concerning the occupational history and ceramic sequence for this Sitio Drago.
Test units will be placed in close proximity to a coral slab alignment in the central area of the site in an attempt to determine the extent of architecture in this area of the site. Geophysical survey will include detailed investigation of another recently located cluster of coral slabs. Actual excavation will be limited in scope and will consist of individual or contiguous 1x1 m test units. If significant features such as structures or burials are encountered the test units may be expanded as necessary.
Excavation will proceed in 10 cm levels unless and until natural stratigraphy is discovered. Natural stratigraphic levels will take precedence when discovered. All excavated soil will be wet screened through 1/8 in. (3mm) mesh to capture as much shell and bone as possible and collect various tiny artifacts such as beads.
Each excavated level of a given unit will have a corresponding excavation form where all pertinent provenience, excavation and artifact collection information is recorded. A plan map of each level is included on the form as is space for recording photographs, soil color, grain size, compaction and general notes and impressions.
One unit, or at least several soil columns from different excavation units, will be selected for flotation analysis. All excavated soil will be placed into a flotation apparatus in order to obtain systematic samples of carbonized plant remains, with the light fraction to be collected in very fine mesh. The heavy fractions will be dried and sorted to collect any charred plant remains and other artifacts.
Each excavated artifact or group of artifacts is placed in a plastic bag labeled with pertinent provenience information (Site, Unit, Level, Feature, artifact class, 3-d data and date). All artifact bags will be logged in at the end of each day, with each receiving a field catalog number. The field catalog will then be entered into a computer database (excel) to be added to the running project catalog.
Artifacts such as ceramics, shell and bone ornaments and stone tools will be counted, weighed, recorded, cataloged and curated. Shell will be identified, counted and weighed in the field and placed back into their respective units during backfilling operations if possible. Ceramics will be separated into diagnostic and non-diagnostic categories, photographed, counted and weighed and then stored in an on-site storage facility or further analysis and possible reconstruction. Stone tools will be photographed, measured, counted and weighed and stored for further analysis. All bone and carbonized plant remains will be exported to UCLA for further detailed analysis.

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Ran Boytner

Field School Contact E-mail:
Be sure to let the program know you heard about their field school on

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Powered by Sigsiu.NET RSS Feeds