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Fact Sheet:
Language of instruction: English Minimum GPA: 2.5
Housing: Apartment Area of study: Archaeology, Field Methods, History
Program type: Field work
Program Description:

Archaeology Field School
Smiths Island, Bermuda


Now entering its sixth season, the Smiths Island Archaeology Field School has trained dozens of students in excavation and research methods and prepared them for graduate study. Besides investigating a variety of 17th and 18th-century sites ranging from a 400-year old early settlers’ house to a quarantine hospital, students learn about the early Modern Atlantic World from an island at its center. Students are involved in all aspects of fieldwork, including excavation methods, artifact identification, documentary research, mapping, photography, and 3D digital modeling. Through readings, exploration, tours of local sites and even an experimental archaeology practicum, students will learn about Bermuda’s extensive history, ethnogenesis, and the process of Americanization. During the 2017 season, we will extend excavations near Oven Site (c. 1615) to find the main manor house, continue digging a military and civilian quarantine site, and survey Cotton Hole Bight to find new sites.
Prior archaeological experience or knowledge of early American history is not required!
An ideal historical and archaeological research site, Bermuda has a rich history and tremendous natural beauty. Settlement began with a shipwreck in 1609 and the island has some of the oldest sites in English America - nearly as old as Jamestown and predating Plymouth and Boston. Tobacco and seafaring sustained Bermuda for 200 years, but after the American Revolution it became a British military stronghold and an important Royal Navy base. Its central Atlantic location made it an important US base during World War II and the Cold War. Today, tourism, banking, and global business are Bermuda’s mainstay.

Our field school is based in St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which boasts more than sixty 18th-century houses and forts for students to study – and is still an active sailing port which will play host to the AMERICAS WORLD CUP in June 2017.

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Fieldwork: We will spend four weeks excavating sites on 60-acre Smiths Island, located in St. George’s Harbour, and will commute to work daily by boat. Work will be physically demanding. Because the island is heavily overgrown, this field school may not be suitable for students highly allergic to poison ivy. Work will include a blend of field excavation and artifact processing and analysis. On rain days, we will conduct primary research in the Bermuda Archives in Hamilton (Bermuda’s capital). We will also snorkel over nearby bays and shipwreck sites to look for evidence of shipbuilding. The work, in short, will be hard but intellectually rewarding. 


Housing: We will stay in St. George’s Grammar School. Which overlooks the Town Harbour and is located near the site of Bermuda’s 1722 Government House. Housing and food are included in the program cost, but students may have to cook their own meals. Bermuda is very expensive: most food is imported and rents are very high. There will be a certain element of “roughing it” to keep the field school affordable. That said, you will be living in the oldest town in English America and a short walk away from four beaches. Program Costs are $4,950, exclusive of airfare to/from Bermuda (about $450) but includes housing, food, transportation, and field trips within Bermuda. NEW for 2017: UR students can get a grant up to $500 for airfare.

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Most students enroll in HIS 299 (Field and Research Methods in Archaeology) and earn 6 University of Rochester credits. Students with prior archaeological field experience can take HIS 399, Advanced Field Methods. This course can satisfy requirements in the UR Archaeology, Technology and Historic Structures program or be used toward history or anthropology majors. Graduate Students can get 5 credits for taking HIS 498 Archaeology Field & Research Methods for the same program fee. For more information about living and excavating in Bermuda, see the Field School Blog:
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Reality Check: Archaeology has little to do with Indiana Jones or Lara Croft and is hardly the romantic action-packed enterprise that movies present. This field school will be both physically and mentally challenging and involve meticulous attention to detail in the archives, field, and lab. Please attach an academic resume and a statement (500 words) relating why you want to participate in this project and what you hope to learn.

Scholarship for Summer 2018!

Apply for a UR Summer Faculty Scholarship here

Applications for the field school are due by March 1, 2017, but are accepted on a rolling basis before then until all slots are full. For those accepted, a $500 deposit is due by April 1, 2017, to secure your spot. The total program fee (including tuition) for 2017 is $4,950 plus airfare to Bermuda. Please send your application to Michael Jarvis, Dept. of History, Rush Rhees 364, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627 or by email to

Letter of Recommendation:
Please list the name, department, title, and email of a professor willing to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf. Also arrange to have this person send this letter directly to MICHAEL JARVIS at the address or email above.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 03/12/2018 03/16/2018 05/27/2018 06/24/2018