MAPA Fieldwork

Fieldwork for Master of Arts in Anthropology: Public Archaeology

MAPA supports several fieldwork opportunities every year that are available to students for little to no cost. These fieldwork opportunities provide training using cutting-edge technologies (including geophysics and drone-based imaging) as well as tried-and-true archaeological techniques. Projects also typically include public engagement and students are given the opportunity to learn how to work with diverse communities and communicate archaeological knowledge to a wide range of audiences.

Past Fieldwork Projects

  • Hilton Head, S.C.

    Working with communities across the island, MAPA has launched several projects on Hilton Head, S.C., that range from the study of Native American sites dating back more than 3,000 years, to historic cemeteries and Civil War sites.

    In summer 2019, we will continue our research at Mitchelville – one of the first free black communities in the American South. Mitchelville is remarkably important as it was founded, constructed and managed by African-Americans who escaped slavery during the Civil War. Acting as a bastion for hope, freedom and emancipation, Mitchelville is one of the most important, yet least celebrated, locations for African-American history in the coastal southeastern United States, in part because none of the buildings remain. Using geophysics (including ground-penetrating radar and resistivity), we are locating the remains of Mitchelville-era buildings, while our follow-up excavations are finding evidence of daily life. This research is enhancing our understanding of this important site and will help in promoting its story to a broader audience.

    In summer 2019, we will also continue our work at the oldest known site on Hilton Head – the Sea Pines Shell Ring. Made by Native Americans more than 3,500 years ago, the Sea Pines Shell Ring is a circular deposit of oysters and clams that measures almost a meter in height. These shells surround an interior plaza, free of shells, that is almost 40 m wide.  and is part of a broader tradition of "shell rings" that spans the coast from South Carolina to Florida. Research at Sea Pines Shell Ring is designed to better understand what this site was used for and why it was built in such a formal manner. Archaeologists working at other shell rings have offered a variety of interpretations: some suggest they are circular villages, others posit they are points of ritual events and intermittent gatherings.

    For more information, email Matthew Sanger (

  • Poverty Point, L.A.

    Poverty Point is one of the largest, most ancient and most complex earthen mound complexes in the Western hemisphere. Made up of six concentric earthen ridges, five mounds, a central plaza and associated borrow areas spread across 163 hectares in northeastern Louisiana, Poverty Point was constructed by populations who hunted, gathered and fished between 3,700 and 3,100 years ago, and is one of the earliest monumental sites in North America. Deemed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2014, Poverty Point exemplifies many aspects of public archaeology in the United States – it is a place of both local and global heritage, it looms large within the study of Native Americans in the region and it is considered socially, politically and cosmologically powerful by its many publics. Binghamton University, in conjunction with Mississippi State University, University of Louisiana at Monroe, the Louisiana State Park Service and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism have developed field research at Poverty Point and its surroundings that began in 2017.

    In summer 2019, we will return to Poverty Point to excavate part of a massive circular ditch feature found in front of one of the mounds. We will also use drone-based imaging to document the site as well as targeted geophysical surveys to better define the presence of buried features. Students involved in this research will have an opportunity to be trained using cutting-edge technology and proven field techniques at one of the most important sites in the Americas.

    Contact Carl Lipo ( for more information.