In the Dirt with a PhD


Thunderstorm over Illinois River near Kampsville.

After the hours of driving my heart was shattered. The town was half flooded form the tropical storm Bill. Kampsville a town in southeastern Illinois near the Mississippi river and right on the bank of Illinois river. And from days of heavy rain the rivers went past their banks and flooded towns and completely covered roads with its strong flowing current. We spent hours looking for a route to the town but only say the destruction of this enigmatic force. With the main roads closed off we had to use the help of local divers as they guided use through country roads not even recognized by our GPS or paper map. The GPS kept telling use for miles to get on a road. When we finally reached the town, I was in dismay. It was the last straw. After hours of seeing flooded towns and reaching dead ends from floods I was brought to a very negative level and I almost wanted to go home. And when I saw the Kampsville it didn’t help me in the slightest. It was the same as the other towns with flooded buildings near the bank and the main road at some points under 2 or three feet of water. Now I was almost in a melodramatic state wanting my parents to turn around and take us back home. But luckily, we pushed through it and my worst fears were wrong, we finally found a staff member who told us the camp was still open and the cabin was further inland up a small hill!

The cabin where I would be staying for a week was part of the Center for American Archeology. Yes, it’s spelled without the a. And their mission, since 1953, is to educate and conduct research in archaeology. And to learn more about the unwritten story of early American. The week I would be there I was part of the High School Field School, a opportunity for young students to actually work in the field of archaeology with professionals, professors, other high school students, and Arizona State interns.



Our excavation site would be called Golden Eagle. A prehistoric site with geometric properties from ancient human activity. And throughout the week I learned more about field and lab work. At Golden eagle (field) I learned techniques like mapping and measuring and flotation sampling at a archaeological site. And how to use a shovel and trowel (archaeologists weapon of choice) while at the excavation site. And at the lab (really the cabin) we would wash artifacts and learn the process of identification, logging them, and storing them based on factors like where they were found and date found. And there were a couple of lectures throughout the week. My favorite ones where about the archaeological evidence about trade between Southwestern tribes and Mesoamerica. And learning about Sun Dagger at Chaco Canyon. Which can predict the solstices throughout the year. We had evenings off, but I remember mostly drinking Arizona like it was nectar and sleeping.

At Golden Eagle. You can roughly see me looking cool with my black cowboy hat.

Even though I had the worst drive of my life to get there. The rest of the week was nice and I only had to worry about brown recluse spiders getting in my boots while I was asleep. But if anyone in high school is serious about archaeology or anthropology in general then they should consider going to this camp. You get to spend a week with people with the same odd ball obsessions as you and know what you’re talking about or would want to learn about it. And you get on hands experience with professionals.

For more information visit there site:





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