Northwestern Michigan Archaeology Fieldschool


13th June – 26th June, 2016


held at Northwestern Michigan College





Field School Practical Work 2012


Field-school aim:


The aim of the field-school is to provide participants with an opportunity to participate (under the supervision of qualified archaeologists) in the excavation of an early historic homestead (The Dougherty House) on Old Mission Peninsula. Students will also have the opportunity to survey the remains of a pier associated with the homestead, located in the shallow water of Old Mission Harbor.



Advanced students will have the opportunity to participate in the remote sensing survey of another area in either Cathead Bay or Northport Harbor located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. The goal of this landscape survey is to locate the remains of several historic shipwrecks that are known to have occurred in this area. 



Field-school objectives:


The objectives of the field-school are thus for participants;


1. To research and analyze information to contribute to the research objectives of work on the Dougherty House.


2. To understand the importance of safety and risk analysis in all archaeological fieldwork.


3. To gain experience in archaeological project management.


4. To gain experience in archaeological excavation.


5. To develop competency in non-intrusive (2D and geophysics) archaeological survey techniques.


6. To be actively engaged in the creation, compilation and publication of archaeological data and records.



Field-school personnel:


The Grand Traverse Bay 2016 field-school will be taught by:Surveying


Dr. Mark W. Holley (Northwestern Michigan College), 


Kerri Finlayson (North Central Michigan College),


Stephen Drake (Northwestern Michigan College),


Dan Harrison (Henry Ford Community College),


Brian Abbott (Nautilus Marine Group),


Dr. Charles Cleland (emeritus Michigan State University),


Dr. Mark Gleason (Grand Valley State University)


Dr. Mark Schwartz (Grand Valley State University)



Assistance will also be provided by additional NAS Part 3 tutors from Michigan.



Research Objectives:


The Peter Dougherty Homestead is the site of northwestern Michigan’s first non-native settlers, Peter Dougherty, who was sent by the Presbyterian Foreign Board of Missions in 1838 and advised by Michigan’s Indian agent located on Mackinac Island, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, to establish a mission and a school to benefit the local Indian tribe that had a village located on a well-protected harbor on what is today referred to as Old Mission Peninsula, in Traverse City, Michigan.  The homestead is located 20 miles north of Traverse City, just off M-37.  This excavation will be conducted as a training and reconnaissance exercise to document the nature, extent, history, and condition of the site.




The research objectives of the work on the Dougherty site in 2016 will be:


1.      To determine the extent and chronological date of the initial privy, which dates approximately to 1860


2.      To excavate an area north of the privy to determine the function of this out-building that was once there


3.      To be able to use relative dating techniques to determine the chronological age of the out-building


4.      To conduct basic survey analysis so the extent of our excavation can be located in 2-D and 3-D space




Surveying on the Foreshore


Project plan / method statement:


The Dougherty Site Excavation in 2016 will be undertaken over 7 days. The work is planned to include:


• Excavation
• Illustration and sketching
• Photography
• 2D survey techniques including offset and/or trilateration
• 3D survey techniques including the use of a Total Station
• Planning frame drawing
• Creation of a 2D site plan.





Data will be collected by using proforma sheets for each activity which will be subsequently written up to a paper archive. Participants will have the responsibility for writing up individual logs as well and processing any measurements and producing drawings each day.


The paper archive will be digitally scanned to create an electronic archive which will be stored and maintained on the project web site. Digital photographs and video taken during the project will also be added to the archive and participants will be requested to contribute photos taken of the site with personal equipment and allow these to be used as part of the project report. A copy of this archive will be provided to the North Central Michigan College and Northwestern Michigan College Libraries and on the web site.


Participants will be able to use the field-school for their Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) Part 2 project reports and would be asked to take responsibility (under supervision) for one particular element of the work. This may simply be the recording of a number of features or may entail processing the artifacts recovered. They would also be requested to submit their work as part of the NAS report to either North Central Michigan College or Northwestern Michigan College in 2016.


For a full schedule for the field school click here.


See what students said (Video) about the 2014 field school.