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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

North America - West Virginia - Coal Heritage Archaeology Project - 2016

North America - West Virginia - Coal Heritage Archaeology Project - 2016

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2016-06-06
End Date 2016-07-30

Multiple Sessions Yes
Multiple Session information

Volunteers can choose how long they volunteer and when to begin.

Archaeology Field School Location

Mullens, WV, USA

Archaeology Field School Tuition


Archaeology Field School Room and Board

Donations encouraged

Archaeology Field School Travel
Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

This is a community archaeology field school. Volunteers are responsible for the costs of their food, transportation and field journals. Equipment and housing will be provided (however donations to the community group providing housing is strongly encouraged)

Archaeology Field School Description

Coal Heritage Archaeology Project Summary:

The 2016 Coal Heritage Archaeology project is being led Carl DeMuth (MA, ABD) in West Virginia's southern coal fields.  Our excavations will focus on the towns of Tams, WV and Wyco, WV (the majority of the focus will be on Tams).  These towns sit along the Raliegh County/Wyoming County border with Tams being in Raleigh County and Wyco being in Wyoming County.  Both of these towns were formerly owned and operated by WP Tams Jr.  They are significant because WP Tams wrote a memoir about running coal towns, meaning that they are some of the most well documented company towns in Appalachia.

The primary research questions that this project seeks to answer is ‘How did the harsh labor conditions experienced by miners and their families affect day to day life?’  Specifically, we are interested in developing a better understanding of the relaxation of race relations in these towns, which historical documentation shows were comparatively better than the rest of country during the early 20th century (integrated workforces, and communal structures).  To answer these questions, we will be using archaeological excavation to examine the segregated residential communities at Tams and Wyco.

Fieldwork during 2016 is currently scheduled for June 6 to July 29 of 2016. Volunteers do not have to dedicate to participating for all 9 weeks, but those who commit to at least four weeks will receive a certificate of completion.  During the week we will be staying at the Mullens Opportunity Center in Mullens, WV just a short drive from both field sites.  The MOC is providing housing for the students. While the organization will not be charging participants for housing, donations are strongly encouraged (and tax deductible).  The MOC has ample kitchen facilities, showers, and high speed wireless internet.  Students are responsible for food, transportation, a field journal, and incidentals, but field equipment will be supplied.

Field work will consist of Phase 1 and Phase 2 Archaeological Surveys.  Phase 1 Surveys mostly include setting up a site grid, mapping the site on a total station, and performing controlled shovel test pits aimed at understanding the soil stratigraphy and examining the area's potential for archaeological features. Phase 2 surveys typically consist of opening an excavating 1 meter square archaeological units.  We will be reopening a unit from last summer, and opening new units as well. By the end of the project, volunteers who have participated for the entire project will be well versed in both Phase 1 and 2 surveys, reading and interpreting soil stratigraphy, site mapping, archaeological excavation, site documentation, and basic laboratory methods and artifact analysis.

The project runs from 8:30-4:30 Monday through Friday. On weekends volunteers are free to do as they wish. We will be staying near the New River Gorge which offers some of the outdoor adventures in the mid-Atlantic. (Whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, mountain biking, etc). On rainy days we will do laboratory work, cleaning and analyzing the material recovered in the field.  There is also the potential for museum visits if heavy rainfall is experienced. 

Anyone with additional questions should contact Carl DeMuth at

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type


Time Period

June 6 - July 29

Field School Setting/Conditions

Our field sites primarily consist of mowed grass fields in southern West Virginia. While not treacherous terrain this region is known to become especially hot and humid in the summers.

How is the project area accessed each day

Field site and project area are accessible by road.

Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation
Is there a professional certification for this field school


Directors and Instructors

R. Carl DeMuth, MA, ABD

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn


On rain days will there be lab work?

There will be lab work on rain days

Will there be additional organized activities?

This field school is located near West Virginia's New River Gorge, a popular destination for adventure and ecotourism. Volunteers are encouraged to spend their weekends exploring the area and doing things such as hiking, rock climbing, and white water rafting.

Will there be additional organized activities?


Is travel restriced during free time?


Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Carl DeMuth

Field School Contact E-mail:
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