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New Court Archaeological Facility Allows Students to Gain In-Demand Skills While Doing Top-Notch Research


A $500,000 grant to establish the Court Archaeological Research Facility is allowing UC to offer students the chance to not only make important research contributions, but also gain skills that are in demand in the employment market.

Date: 9/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Jessica Donovan

UC ingot   Working as part of UC’s Ohio Valley Archaeology Field School, more than 20 students had a chance this summer to delve into history at the same time they were acquiring job skills for an in-demand career field.

Field work is an occupation that is constantly in need of more skilled workers than are available, says UC Assistant Professor of Anthropology Ken Tankersley.
UC student Matt Maley
UC student Matt Maley sifts through soil at the Shawnee Lookout site.



Training those students is one reason there is excitement about the new Court Archaeological Research Facility (CARF), which will be located in northwest Hamilton County at the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies. The center is funded through a $500,000 gift from John and Georgia Court and the Court Family Foundation.

When complete, the center will allow for year-round research into Ohio Valley archaeology through facilities that will include a field classroom, a wet laboratory, office space and temperature- and humidity-controlled curation space.

Any UC student is eligible to apply for UC’s summer field school, which used the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies as a staging ground for this summer’s activities.

To see UC students in action during this year's field school, view this YouTube video produced by Jessica Donovan, the director of Undergraduate Enrollment Initiatives for UC's McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

“You learn as you go. I learned a lot in 10 weeks,” says Craig Bergman, a third-year transportation design major from DAAP who took part in this year’s field school, as he sorted through chert that had been excavated at one of the Shawnee Lookout sites this summer. His goal was to separate out the fragments that had been employed as tools at the site.

“Every day was something different. You learned something new every day,” says Bergman. “I learned how to survey, how to map and how to site an area in general, as well as the proper ways to dig.”
Sign
Students working at the site.



Nearby, Matt Maley located a projectile point. Looking closely at it, he pegged it as being of the Madisonville design and estimated it to be from the late Woodland period, placing its origins back to sometime between 1400 to 1650.

Maley was volunteering at this year’s field school. The 1974 graduate from UC’s environmental engineering program is retired and agreed to spend the summer exploring one of his interests.

“It’s hard work,” says Dean Wells, a graduate student in anthropology who is a teaching assistant to Tankersley. “A lot of what we we’re looking at is not fully detailed – there are walls missing. There are mounds that are intact, but a lot of the earthworks are missing.”