Archaeological Field Work I and II

CLA 3000 & 3900

Coordinating professor: Jitse H.F. Dijkstra
Office: ARTS, room 012 (ground floor, end of corridor)
Telephone: 562-5800 (ext. 1325)


Participation in archaeological field work is offered to any student who has completed the course CLA 2110, Archaeological Methods and Techniques. In this course the basic theories, methods and practices of archaeology have been learned, and field work is the logical sequence for those who want to experience the practical aspects of archaeology in the field.

Practical arrangements

At the moment, we have established ongoing relations with excavations in Croatia by the University of Zagreb and Italy by the University of Groningen, who will allow us a limited number of students on their digs. These excavations are recommended because we know the field directors and their field work, but the student is free to look for another suitable excavation. A list of excavations is available at the departmental office; web pages of other universities could also be checked.

Once the student has found a suitable excavation, he/she needs permission from the director of undergraduate studies at the Classics department. Application forms for the approval of digs (‘Request for Archaeological Field Work’) can be obtained from the academic assistant (room 101). They must be filled out, then submitted to and approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Permission will be granted on a case-by-case basis, on the basis of the advice of the coordinating professor and the following minimum requirements:

  1. the excavation must run as a course through another university or is approved by the coordinating professor
  2. the excavation must last 2-4 weeks for CLA 3900 and 4-6 weeks for CLA 3000; a ‘week’ includes a minimum of 5 working days
  3. the excavation must involve a classical site or sites (in exceptional cases Bronze and Iron Age sites will also be allowed)
  4. the excavation must offer suitable training
  5. the student must not be paid for the field work

The difference between CLA 3000 and 3900 is that the former is worth 6 credits, whereas the latter is worth 3 credits. The period of overlap is at 4 weeks. It will be decided, again, on a case-by-case basis if 4 weeks of field work will count for 3 or 6 credits (on the basis of work load, intensiveness of work and so on). If the student participates in a course at another university, the director of undergraduate studies decides if the course is equivalent to either CLA 3000 or 3900 on the basis of the work load and requirements. For example, a course at another university might be credited with 6 credits, yet it might only take 3 weeks of field work and might not require a field work report. In such a case, the course might count here only for 3 credits (that is, as CLA 3900).

All possible combinations up to 12 credits and a maximum of 2 excavations can be pursued, that is, the maximum credit can be achieved by completing CLA 3000 twice. The student is only allowed to enroll in one excavation per term.

With an ‘excavation’ we mean both excavations proper and survey projects. In exceptional cases, students could also receive credits for restoration work, underwater archaeology, museum work and so on.

Once the student has received permission to participate in an excavation, the student has to be registered for the term in which the field work takes place. If the excavation takes place in summer and the student is a full-time student in the preceding winter semester he/she could register for that term. Instead of having to pay the whole sum for an extra registration for the summer term, we then ask the students to contribute a small fee to the costs made by the excavators.  

In the case of students who participate in courses offered by another university, after approval by the director of undergraduate studies and the number of credits has been established, a ‘Letter of Permission’ must be filled out and submitted (with appropriate payment). This will allow the marks from the host university to be automatically transferred here upon completion of the course. This can be obtained from the academic assistant or from Info Services in Tabaret.


Excavation Performance (on the basis of Field Director Report): 40%

Field Work Report: 60%

NB (this also holds for the next two sections): courses in other universities may be arranged differently!

The field work

It is recommended to take a notebook into the field and make constant notes of the work done (this notebook is usually called a ‘dig diary’). These notes serve a practical goal for they could be of use for recording data or drawing sketches but at the same time will serve as the basis of the field work report the student has to write after the excavation.

The requirements for a field work report can be obtained by the coordinating professor before the excavations. It should be read through carefully in order to know what needs to be recorded in the field notebook.

Other requirements for the field work (practical arrangements) depend on the excavation. For advice, ask the coordinator.

After the field work, the coordinator will send a Field Director Report to the field director of the excavation the student participated in. The field director will give marks about the excavation performance, finds processing, theoretical insight and social skills. Possible additional work conducted or any other remarks will also contribute to this mark, which accounts for 40% of the final mark.

Field work report

The student’s report of the excavations, the field work report, will account for the rest (60%). A field work report is a report, not an essay or paper in which a case is argued and a question is answered. A field work report is merely a detailed report about the student’s participation in the excavation. A field work report consists of an adequate and precise description of:

  1. topography and geology of the site
  2. its excavation history
  3. methods and techniques used at the excavation
  4. results of the excavation

[for a sheet with a more precise description of the report, ask the coordinator]

The length of the field work report should be 15 to 18 pp. for CLA 3000 and 12 to 15 pp. for CLA 3900.

The student will be judged on how adequate and precise the descriptions are, the report must conform to the normal rules of style and spelling, and contain the mentioned parts and pp. A good field report unfolds exactly and clearly to the reader what has been done during the excavation. It is recommended to include maps and pictures, but only if they illustrate the report. For example, a description of the topography of the site almost always requires a good map of the site. In addition, it is also judged if all information given is relevant. For example, if the dig took place in Pompeii, a complete history of all excavations taking place there should not be included, but only a general history leading to the field school the student participated in. If secondary literature is used for a description of the excavation history, the source should always be mentioned in a footnote.

The Field Work Report has to be handed in two weeks after returning from the excavations, or, if the two weeks extend to after term, at the end of term.

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