Field School Press

Field School Press

Dr. Ventura Pérez and Heidi Bauer-Clapp on WGBY's "Connecting Point"


Ventura R. Pérez, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of Landscapes of Violence and Associate Professor of Biological Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst, talks about his field school and his class that deals with bio-archaeology and forensic anthropology. The field school gives students a chance to apply what they have learned at a mock crime scene and archaeological dig. Doctoral candidate Heidi Bauer-Clapp, who assists Pérez, also joins him in the studio.


UMass Amherst: "Skull Duggery"

Students excavate a plastic skeleton
Bailing out an exhumed grave with a model skeleton (Heidi Bauer-Clapp)

If you hike through the woods north of campus, you may just happen upon a fenced-in area tantalizingly marked “Keep out: UMASS AMHERST TAPHONOMY LAB.” A quick search on your smartphone reveals that taphonomy means “the study of decaying organisms over time,” only increasing the mystery.

The mysterious zone is the field site for Associate Professor of Anthropology Ventura Pérez’s ’00G, ’06PhD six-week-long summer intensive course, “Field and Laboratory Methods." Pérez, a specialist in bio-archaeology and skeletal biology, conceived of the summer archaeological field school to focus on the excavation and analysis of human skeletal remains while he was a graduate student in anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The taphonomy lab, home to a mock grave site and a mock crime scene, is fenced and clearly demarcated because in the early years of the lab, a hiker actually did stumble upon what he assumed to be hastily buried remains (the class uses model skeletons at the field site), and dutifully called the UMass Campus Police.

Continue reading "Skull Duggery" on the UMass Amherst website.


MassLive: "Students get muddy in UMass field class, where they learn to excavate and analyze bones"

Amherst - It’s another rainy day in a series of rainy days, yet the students are used to the mud and are focused on the bones that lie before them, not the weather.

These are not real bones but tools to help them learn what to do when they are in the field with the real thing.

The students have come from all across the country to learn about excavation and laboratory analysis of skeletal remains at the Taphonomy Research Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts. And mud or no mud, they are deep into it.

Continue reading at MassLive


Important Field School Dates

2018 Field Season

Applications Due:
March 18, 2018

Applicant Decisions Announced:

Field Season Dates:
UMass Summer Session 1
May 21 - June 29, 2018

For more updates and journals from the current excavations, visit the UMass Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology Facebook page.