Archaeology Field School

Archaeology Field School


We offer a summer archaeology field school in partnership with Ursinus College. This intensive six-week course combines instruction in archaeological methods and theory with hands-on excavation training and experience. Through assigned readings and classroom discussions, on-site training and experience, and weekly laboratory study, field school students will learn historical archaeology techniques and develop the ability to identify and interpret discovered artifacts and place archaeological information within a cultural/historical framework.

The 2024 field school is expected to run from June 4 to July 20, on a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. Saturdays will include public archaeology days with community members and public events.

Non-Ursinus students are encouraged to enroll in the course for credit.

The course title is ANTH/HIST-385 Historical Archaeology Field School and it includes six semester hours. The course registration fee is $2,250. Limited housing may be available to enrolled students at that cost and meals may be available at additional cost.

Please contact Professor Kate Davis at [email protected] for inquiries regarding the field school.


Artifacts from The Speaker's House Archaeology Field School

SH 2015 redware-resized

Artifacts provide information about daily life, including what people ate, the kinds of ceramics and glass they used, and even the type of nails they used to build their houses.


Fragments of a small plate decorated with a transfer printed design of camels and pagodas were found during the 2015 field school.

Oyster shells and animal bones provide clues to the Muhlenberg family's diet. We know from historical accounts that Frederick and his brother Peter were known for hosting oyster suppers, and not surprisingly we find lots of oyster shells during archaeology excavations.
Plate rim-resized

This large section of a dinner plate rim was found near the kitchen door. It dates to the 1760s and may have been used by the Muhlenberg family. The plate was made in England of white salt-glazed stoneware and is more refined than the local red earthenware pottery.

In addition to finding thousands of artifacts, the field school has also uncovered the remains of numerous outbuildings on the Speaker's House property including the general store operated by Frederick Muhlenberg in the 1780s, a smokehouse, outhouse, bake oven, and large barn. Excavation and study of these outbuildings provides additional clues into the property's appearance and how it evolved over time.
Bake oven foundation-crop
The bake oven foundation was discovered adjacent to the back wall of the Speaker's House. After it was completely excavated and documented, a new bake oven was reconstructed on top of the original foundation. The oven has a clay tile roof, consistent with both local precedent and numerous fragments of clay tile that were found during the excavation.
Smokehouse foundation 2015

The smokehouse foundation was discovered while shovel testing an area of the back yard to make sure it was clear of any archaeological features prior to the installation of the kitchen garden. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) had not indicated any subsurface anomalies, but the field school conducted shovel tests in the area to make sure. Surprise! We discovered two outbuilding foundations. The first is a smokehouse, measuring about 10 x 10 feet. The second is an outhouse, or privy. After excavation, the two foundations were rebuilt above grade and the units backfilled. Both structures will eventually be rebuilt as part of the property's restoration.