Field School

2018 University of Oklahoma

Field School in Florida!


The field school ran from July 7th through August 12th. The fieldwork itself was conducted during the 5 weeks between July 9 (Monday) and Friday August 10.


The field school was held near the Ocala National Forest, next to Silver Glen Springs, one of Florida’s most impressive freshwater springs. The field school was led by Dr. Randall, and was conducted in tandem with the University of Florida St. Johns Archaeological Field School, directed by Dr. Ken Sassaman.

Project Description:

We excavated sites dating between the Middle Archaic (9000‐5000 years ago) to the Mississippi Period (1000 years ago), and which were characterized by freshwater shell deposits. These archaeological sites, like most along the St. Johns River, were heavily impacted by land development in the past century (shell was actively sought after for construction and road fill). Our goal for this summer of this long‐term project was to document the spaces between large shell mounds impacted by shell mining.

Field school students spent the week days in several aspects of archaeology, including:

  • Stratigraphic Excavations: Excavation units will be tested around shell mounds, in search for architectural evidence. Students learned how to excavate, recognize and document features, and record the color and composition of the different stratigraphic layers.
  • Topographic Mapping: Students learned how to use a surveyor’s Total Mapping Station, as well as GPS to map surface finds, create detailed topographic maps, and locate excavation areas.
  • Shovel Testing: Students learned how to excavate, screen, and document shovel test pits. These are the primary way through which archaeological sites are discovered.
  • Soil Sampling: Students learned how to retrieve soil samples using bucket augers and other soil samplers.
  • Remote sensing: Students used ground penetrating radar, gradiometry, and resistivity to survey for sub surface anomalies.
  • Laboratory Work: The afternoons and evenings were spent analyzing the soil samples and materials that we excavated during the season.
  • Lectures: The evenings were punctuated with lectures on topics of significance related to the ongoing work and interpretation of the project.

Weekend Field Trips! We also took field trips to St. Augustine, the famous Crystal River site, Homosassa Springs, and the Florida Museum of Natural History.