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Marshall offers new archaeology classes, allows students to explore

Published: Friday, February 12, 2010

Updated: Friday, February 12, 2010 00:02

archaeology

PHOTO COURTESY OF NICHOLAS FREIDIN

Marshall University archaeology students sift through dirt in Guyandotte, W.Va., looking for artifacts. The university offers an archaeology class every summer. It is open to students of all majors.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Marshall University is continuing its archaeology field school this summer in the wetlands of Green Bottom, W.Va.


"We're one of the few schools that has a regular ongoing study of archaeology over the summer," said Nicholas Freidin, professor and director of the summer archaeology field school. "West Virginia University occasionally has one and Sheppard does and Concord, but we've done it every year."


The class offers students the opportunity to go out the classroom and explore the region around them.


"Students really like it a lot and keep coming back to take the class again on a 400 level class or independent study," Freidin said. "What's nice is that we don't  get just anthropology majors, but also people from all over campus like business, English, history, and psychology, so it's a nice mix."


The science of reconstructing and understanding past and present cultures from their material remains is taught in the classroom, lab and field.


"I think the field school helped me in many ways," said  Brittany Vance, junior anthropology major from Huntington. "I gained a better understanding of the archaeology of the area, I also learned the skills necessary to do field work, and I made great friends in the process. I really hope to be able to take the class again."


"It's an unusual class in itself where you're not just in a classroom, but you're out in the wetlands digging and getting very dirty," Freidin said. "Even when it rains we just move to the lab to go on in our study."


The students in this class have an opportunity to look into the past of the people that held these items before they did and put the pieces back together.


"It is the only one around, and students show interest in the class because they actually get to dig and find pieces and put them together to see where our ancestors came from," said David Pittenger, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.


The students are encouraged to be hands-on and get dirty in the process of working with the pieces of the past.


"We could improve by having a better facility to store the objects the students find in and a better lab to work with the students," Pittenger said.


This class is a six credit hour course from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. during summer session two. No prerequisites are required to take the class.


"My favorite part about the field school was that I got to get first hand experience doing field archaeology, exactly the kind of work I plan to do when I graduate from Marshall," Vance said.


Kasha Shull can be contacted at shull11@marshall.edu.

 

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