People in the Field

Beginning in May 2017, the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials will offer a series of 5-day intensive courses in the field of archaeological science. They are aimed at graduate students, scholars, and professionals with a background in archaeology or in a relevant field (BA/BSc required). All courses are taught by CAAM Teaching Specialists and Museum staff and are offered on rotation every 2-3 years with the final dates confirmed in the Spring of each year.


Location: Courses will be held in the Penn Museum’s Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA.

Course fees: $900 per course. Fees include all course materials and access to laboratory facilities. Travel to and from Philadelphia, accommodation, meals and course credits are not covered by the course fees.

A minimum of 4 participants is required for courses to be offered.

Deadline for 2017 registration:March 31st 2017

Deadline for payment in full: Two weeks before the first day of course.

To register for the Summer 2017 courses, please complete the Application Form.


Course Instructor: Dr. Chantel White

Tentative dates: May 22-26 2017

Description: The course is open to graduate students in anthropology and related disciplines as well as professional archaeologists. Coursework is geared toward individuals with previous experience. Our daily schedule will replicate the activities and decisions of a field archaeobotanist in order to familiarize participants with the responsibilities they will encounter on an archaeological project. Course lectures will educate participants on how to choose and implement appropriate sampling strategies, and case studies will be used to explore best-practice techniques for the recovery of macrobotanical remains, phytoliths, and starch grains. Hands-on activities in class will include learning how to set up a small field lab and build a recycling hand-pump flotation system. Participants will then process flotation samples and work to team-sort heavy fraction. We will also spend time practicing microbotanical sampling techniques with experimental artifacts from the CAAM lab.

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Course Instructor: Dr. Anne Tiballi

Tentative dates: May 29- 2 June 2017

Description: This course centers on the tools and techniques employed in the analysis of archaeological textile materials of ancient Peru and introduces students to the archaeology of the Andes. Students will learn to identify, analyze, and document the features of ancient textiles (fiber, spin/ply composition, color, weave structure, iconography) by examining archaeological examples from various sites in Peru from the Penn Museum’s collection, and by learning how to spin and weave the Andean way. No prior experience is required, and instruction is flexible enough to accommodate novice and experienced weavers and archaeologists. This course is ideally suited for graduate students in Andean archaeology, museum professionals, and textile enthusiasts with an academic bent.

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Course Instructor: Dr. Marie-Claude Boileau

Tentative dates: May 14-18 2018

Description: This course will introduce participants to thin-section petrography of ceramic archaeological objects and architectural materials (stone, mortars and plasters). Using polarized light microscopy, the course will cover the basics of optical mineralogy and the petrography of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. We will move on to the petrographic characterization of ceramic materials and the interpretation of provenance and manufacturing technology. Participants who wish to work on their own material are encouraged to bring their thin-sections. Note that thin-sectioning costs are not covered by the registration fee and thin-sections should be manufactured in advance of the course. Please contact the course instructor for more information.

Course Instructor: Mr. Moritz Jansen

Tentative dates: May 28-1 June 2018

Description: This course allows participants from different disciplines insights into the research at the interface of Archaeology, Geosciences, Material Sciences and Engineering. Topics to be discussed in lectures and practical lessons include: types of deposits, exploitation of ore, the transformation to metal, distribution of metal as a raw material, development and organization of early metallurgy, and interdisciplinary investigations of metals and related artifacts like slag and crucibles. Participants will become familiar with the full spectrum of analytical procedures, ranging from microscopy for materials characterization to mass spectrometry for geochemical fingerprinting. The goal is to provide basic principles to solve issues related to the research of metal production and processing in an archaeological context.

Course Instructor: Dr. Peter Cobb

Tentative dates: May or August 2019

Description: Excavation and survey projects create tremendous quantities of data in short periods of time.  Happily, digital technologies now enable us to capture these data with detailed representations at high accuracy.  We can then analyze these data with multiple techniques at many scales and publish complete datasets online.  In this course we will gain hands-on experience with many digital methods central to archaeological research, from relational database design and cloud computing to 3d digitization and spatial analysis.   We will also practice applying these methods to the study of archaeological data of all types and scales, from objects, to excavation contexts and architecture, to sites and landscapes.

Course Instructor: Dr. Katherine M Moore

Tentative dates: June 3-7 2019

Description: This course is designed for archaeologists either planning a field program or approaching an existing zooarchaeology collection. The basic research questions in zooarchaeology will be related to field practices for sampling, recovery, and conservation. Participants will practice the major tasks of sorting, identification, and data recording using hands-on material and CAAM comparative collections. Surface modification and histology will be used to reconstruct taphonomic pathways and life history variables. Sampling and interpretation of molecular zooarchaeology data (aDNA and isotopes) will be discussed and sampling protocols demonstrated.

Course Instructor: Team taught by PM Conservators

Tentative dates: May 2019

Description: This intensive course will cover the main sorts of materials recovered from archaeological contexts, how they are affected by their deposit environment, and how they may be preserved for study.  The mornings will consist of lectures and the afternoons of hands-on exercises to support lecture-based materials.  Topics covered will include basic cleaning, mending, safe retrieval, and proper storage.  This course will not make you a conservator but will help you know what to do (and more importantly, what not to do) if a conservator is not available onsite.


Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM)


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