Wyoming Spring Creek Field Studies: Anthropology/Archaelogy


This program is for first-year, Frederick Honors College students ONLY.  
This program is designed as introductionary courses and is open to Frederick Honors College students from all academic disciplines. 
The program will introduce students to systematic archaeological pedestrian survey and surface collection, and several targeted ground truthing techniques (shovel testing and limited test excavation), as well as data collection and analysis. The field school will take place at the Alan L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve approx. 45 min north of Laramie, Wyoming.  This space was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years and also includes the site of an original 1860s Transcontinental Railroad station. In this instance, the cultural landscape we will be exploring ranges from some of the earliest sites in the Mountain West to some very important historic sites just within the past couple hundred years.

What You'll Accomplish: 

The field school program will introduce students to pedestrian survey, including establishing and walking survey transects (straight lines across the landscape in standard intervals or distances apart), mapping and collecting archaeological materials from the surface using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, with datapoints to be entered into a regional GIS (Geographic Information System), and subsurface investigations focusing on the testing of the survey-based find areas in terms of data recovery from subsurface areas.
Initial instruction will be held at the University of Pittsburgh towards the end of the spring semester. This will be followed by three weeks in the field, two focused on survey and the third focused on excavation.
As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • An understanding of basic survey techniques, including creation of transects, conducting survey, surface collection
  • An understanding of archaeological mapping techniques, how to layout an excavation square, how to map it in relation to other features
  • An understanding of how and why archaeologists use shovel testing
  • Through excavation of 1m x 1m square, understand stratigraphy, appropriately recognize and record stratigraphy and features, recover artifacts, document excavation process (excavation journal)
  • Through processing, curating, cataloging, and conducting preliminary analysis on archaeological artifacts recovered in the field
  • An understanding of the history and pre-history of Wyoming

Most of the time this program is based in and around Laramie, Wyoming region. Students will frequently visit Allen L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve located a short drive west of the small town of Rock River, WY. The property is a sprawling 6000-acre tract that embraces pristine dinosaur-bone-bearing beds, 9,000 years of Native American archaeology, native prairie ecosystems, and a section of the original grade of the 1869 trans-continental railroad. There are even the remains of an old ghost town on the property.  The Preserve includes prominent exposures of the Jurassic Morrison Formation, which contains some of the most famous dinosaurs in the world.  In fact, the finest example of Diplodocus carnegii, whose skeleton resides in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, was unearthed from a site only about 30 miles north.  Unlike many dinosaur sites, the Spring Creek Preserve was left untouched during the great Western U.S. excavations of the 19th and 20th centuries. 
Temperatures and precipitation vary based on the season. Weather near Rock River and Laramie, Wyoming can still be unpredictable in June. The temperatures average 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 35-55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Temperatures cool off at night and there’s also always potential for rain. It is a good idea to pack a light, waterproof/resistant jacket. 

Where You'll Live: 

In Laramie, Wyoming students will live on campus at the University of Wyoming. You will live in double-occupancy dorms in the heart of the campus. During your time here in Laramie, you will have access to a variety of campus buildings including the cafeteria. Campus is also very centrally located and a short walk to the main street in town with restaurants, coffee shops and shopping.

  • Double-occupancy
  • Shared dormitory bathrooms
  • Bedding, bed linens
  • Tables or desks and chairs
  • Dresser, wardrobe or closet
  • Wi-Fi
What You'll Study: 

You'll earn a total of 3 credits on the Wyoming Spring Creek Field Studies: Anthropology & Archaeology Program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same course. There will be a few required class meetings in Pittsburgh during the spring semester. The course is co-taught by a Pittsburgh faculty member and University of Wyoming faculty member with backgrounds in Anthropology and Archaeology.  In this course students will study:

  • pedestrian surveying, including establishing and walking survey transects
  • mapping and collecting archaeological materials from the surface using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology
  • entering datapoints into a regional GIS (Geographic Information System), 

Sample Daily Schedule:
8am – Drive to Survey Area
9am – 10:30am: Survey
10:30am – 10:45am: Morning Break
10:45am – 12:30pm: Survey
12:30pm – 1:30pm: Lunch
1:30pm – 2:45pm: Survey
2:45pm – 3:00pm: Break
3:00pm – 4:30pm: Survey
4:30pm – 5:00pm: Clean-up/Artifact washing-processing
5pm: Drive back to Laramie
If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your academic advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you.

Honors Special Topics: Wyoming Spring Creek Field Studies: Anthropology/Archealogy (HONORS1510)

This 3-credit course is open to all Frederic Honors College first year students regardless of major.  In this course students will study:

  • pedestrian surveying, including establishing and walking survey transects
  • mapping and collecting archaeological materials from the surface using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology
  • entering datapoints into a regional GIS (Geographic Information System), 
Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Bryan Schultz

Greetings!  I am the Director of International Progarms at the College of Business.  I've been at Pitt since 2011 and during this time served in the Study Abroad Office, Swanson School of Engineering, Frederick Honors College and the College of Business Administration.  My portfolio of responsibilities includes expanding global and experiential opportunities for Pitt Honors students.  Prior to joining Pitt my career focused on providing executive-level leadership and consulting to nonprofit organizations in Colorado and Washington DC. 
I graduated from Kalamazoo College (MI) with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and earned a Master of Nonprofit Management degree from Regis University (CO).  During my free tine I enjoy long backpacking trips, following Detroit-based professional sports, painting, going to concerts, and exploring new places - especially those overseas.



Schedule an appointment

Email me at bryan.schultz@pitt.edu to schedule an appointment.

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Josh Cannon

Josh is a Frederick Honors College staff member that also serves as faculty on Wyoming Spring Creek Field Studies:  Anthropology/Archaelogy program. 
Josh advises students who are interested in applying for scholarships, fellowships, and other awards. While he enthusiastically supports students on any award, Josh is particularly focused on helping students interested in National Science Foundations (NSF) awards, the Boren Scholarship and Fellowship, the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, the Udall Undergraduate Scholarship, and the Critical Languages Scholarship. He is also a co-chair of the Pitt Veterans Affinity Group.
Josh was born in Jefferson City (Green County, PA) and raised in Pittsburgh. He joined the Marine Corps after high school and served for 5 years as an Arabic Cryptologic Linguist, including 2 tours in Iraq, and obtained the rank of sergeant. He then enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh, majored in Anthropology and Linguistics, and graduated with a Bachelors of Philosophy degree from the Honors College. Immediately after graduating, he went to the University of Chicago to pursue a PhD in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department.

Schedule an appointment

Schedule an appointment with me using Pathways!
Having trouble or don't see a time that works for you? Just email me!

James Johnson

James Johnson is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in Bronze and Iron Age pastoralist societies of the Eurasian steppe, ca. 2100 – 200 BCE. He has worked in North America for the past 20 years in addition to the Eurasian steppe. His primary project, the Uy River Valley Communities of Practice project, investigates how social integration manifests in mobile societies through household interaction, material culture, especially pottery, landscapes, and settlement patterning. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren, National Geographic, and the University of Wyoming. In addition to the steppe, Jim has worked in various areas of Europe and North America for the past two decades. In addition to the University of Wyoming, he has conducted research and taught at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and the University of Chicago

  In-State Out-of-State
Program Cost $5,000 $5,200
Study Away Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $5,300 $5,500

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare $500-$750
Personal Expenses $300-$500

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.


What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • 3-credits of tuition
  • Accommodation
  • Most meals
  • Most field gear and equipment

Elements not included in the program fee are:

  • Flight to location
  • Some meals
  • Books
  • Personal expenses
What Else You Need to Know: 

Additional Program Application Requirements:

  • This program is for 1st year, Frederick Honors College students
    This program takes place at higher elevations 7,000+ feet above sea level
  • Due to the nature of the program, the schedule is subject to change. There may be instances where a guest speaker or field excursion needs to be rescheduled. We ask for your patience and understanding in advance.
  • Remember that this is an academic program and that you should expect to invest the same amount of time and effort on this course as you would on a course at Pitt. 
  • There is a very structured scheduled with mandatory trips to the reserve. Independent travel cannot conflict with fieldwork. Independent travel may be better before or after the program.