Co-Field Directors Mohsen Kamel and Ana Tavares
In 2005 we launched our first AERA/ARCE Archaeological Field School for inspectors of the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA, formerly the Supreme Council of Antiquities). We have run nine field school seasons in the past seven years with a total of 146 students.
The AERA/ARCE Field School has evolved into four progressive sessions:
Analysis & Publication
Basic skills Osteo Archaeology Rescue Archaeology Report Writing Arch-Sci Lab Survey and Mapping Strategy Graphics Prep. Osteology intro Arch. Illustration Sampling Publishing Osteology Survey intro Ceramics Archive Publishing Ceramics Ceramics intro Advanced Excavation Lecture prep. training
We integrate the field school program with AERA‘s long-standing Giza Plateau Mapping project, run by Dr. Mark Lehner, with support from the American Research Centre in Egypt (ARCE) and funding from USAID, and The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Archaeologists working with MSA Inspectorates from all over Egypt come to Giza to work closely with professional archaeologists from all over the world.
Beginners Field School
Beginners Field School sessions take place in the controlled environment of the excavations in the AERA concession at Giza, or in combination with salvage archaeology in other sites, where beginners work with supervisors who have been through the Beginners and Advanced Field School sessions at Giza. In addition to teaching basic skills in excavation and recording of archaeological sites, the Beginners Field School offers:
- One-week field lab orientation on the analysis of:
- Flora (ancient plant remains)
- Fauna (animal bone)
- Osteology (human bone)
- Lithics (chipped stone tool making)
- One-week excavation of human remains
- Introduction to archaeological illustration
- Introduction to survey and mapping
Advanced Field School
Advanced Field School sessions have also taken place as part of AERA’s controlled research within our concession at Giza. Students who have been through the Beginners Field School take advanced instruction in one of the following concentrations:
- Survey and Mapping
- Archaeological Illustration
- Osteology (human remains)
- Excavation and recording
Smaller groups allow for more in-depth training in the concentrations.
Our aim is to give an overview of techniques for studying material culture and to introduce basic sampling procedures for collecting material in the field, even if for storage in situations where detailed processing and analysis must follow later.
Salvage Archaeology Field School (SAFS)
Whereas the Beginners and Advanced Field Schools are a little like basic medical training in a controlled environment, the SAFS takes archaeological training into the real world of urgent rescue archaeology, usually in an urban setting, the equivalent of medics in (by analogy) the archaeological equivalent of a war zone.
Graduates of both the Beginner and Advanced Field Schools teach in SAFS, along with professional contract archaeologists experienced in rescue archaeology around the world.
To date, we have held two SAFS seasons: Spring 2008 and Spring 2010. Taking place between January and March 2008, the first SAFS was the largest archaeological mission in Egypt at that time and emphasized basics of standard modern archaeological practice.
Within the curriculum, students were taught surveying, systematic excavation and recording, retrieval and analysis of materials, storage of data and report preparation. The twelve-week program consisted of seven weeks of fieldwork, one full week of laboratory tutorials and three weeks dedicated to writing a report.
Analysis and Publication Field School (APFS)
Without writing for publication, at least for reports on-file, information is still not fully salvaged, even after systemic excavation and recording.
The APFS teaches the preparation of reports for publication and, by publishing, conserving information from excavations, which MSA Inspectors carry out in all parts of Egypt. Each APFS student chooses a program and are taught skills such as preparing, plotting and drafting maps, archaeological illustrations, photo editing and writing season reports.
An eight-week intensive program includes:
- Writing preliminary excavation reports for publication
- Osteo-archaeology analysis and report writing
- Ceramics reports for publication
- Archaeological illustration, graphics and layout for publication
- Incorporating into reports for publication zooarchaeology (faunal) and archaeobotany (floral) analyses
All field school sessions use:
- Manuals in the five concentrations and in floral and faunal analysis
- Student presentations
AERA has begun to publish its field school manuals with the four-volume A Manual of Egyptian Pottery by Anna Wodzinska.