Rice University Archaeological Field School on Gorée Island, Senegal

For information on the 2007 Gorée Field School, click on Rice Archaeology

June 15–July 28, 2005

In 2005, the small island town of Gorée, located off the coast of Senegal just a short ferry-ride away from the capital of Dakar, will be the focus of a six-week field school in historical archaeology and laboratory analysis. Renowned as the island from which West African slaves were shipped to the New World, Gorée Island is a remarkable field site for historical archaeological investigation. Its significance is underscored by its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The 2005 excavations are part of an ongoing investigation into the growth and development of Gorée into a supply port for the Atlantic trade, occupied and serviced by a polycultural population of slaves, Europeans, mainland Africans, and mixed-race female landowners, known as signares.

Two courses will be taught for a total of six hours Rice credit:

Anth 364 Historical Archaeology Field Techniques - 3 hours
This course offers field instruction in methods used in archaeology generally and historical archaeology in particular. It emphasizes practical instruction in excavation and data collection techniques, as well as recording methods, including drawing and site photography. Excavation takes place daily, Mon-Fri, from 7:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Anth 370 Archaeological laboratory techniques and analysis - 3 hours
The techniques of processing, recording, and conserving archaeological materials recovered from excavation, and their preliminary analysis, are emphasized in this course. Since many of the artifacts recovered will be imports from Europe, students will learn to identify the source area and production date of different types of imports. Lab activities take place daily Mon-Fri 2:30–5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m.–12 p.m.

The Field School's principal instructor is Dr. Ibrahima Thiaw (Rice University, IFAN-Ch-A. Diop laboratory). Also participating will be Dr. Susan McIntosh (Rice University), and Dr. Shawn Murray (University Wisconsin-Madison), an archaeobotanist, who will direct a program for recovering, processing, and sorting botanical materials from the excavations.

Additional instruction may be provided by one of more of the other Affiliated Faculty:

Dr. Alexander Byrd, History Department, Rice University, History of the Atlantic slave trade

Dr. Christopher DeCorse, Anthropology Department, Syracuse University
African Historical Archaeology – the identification of European trade goods at African sites

Dr. Roderick McIntosh, Anthropology Department, Rice University, West African archaeology

The cost of the field school is $3,500 for tuition, room, board, and local, program-related travel between Dakar and Gorée. International health insurance (required) and transportation to and from Dakar, Senegal are additional.

Refund policy: if the student withdraws before 1 June, but after assumption of expenses such as air tickets, housing deposits, etc, the student pays actual costs incurred. Withdrawal after 1 June but before Jun 15: actual costs plus 50% tuition
Withdrawal after 15 June start date: no refund

There are no specific pre-requisites admission to the field school, there is a general requirement that participants have prior course work in EITHER African history or archaeology. A student without any background in archaeology will be required to do extra preparatory reading (Fagan, 1999, Archaeology, A Brief Introduction). GPA in the major must be 3.0 or better. Excavation involves fairly vigorous physical labor: digging, scraping, lifting, climbing. Students must be physically able to undertake all these activities. No language preparation is required.

30 March - pre-departure orientation, 7 pm
15 June - arrival in Dakar Senegal
15-17 June - on-site cultural orientation in Dakar, Wolof language instruction
18 June –28 July - Gorée
28 July - Field School ends


Photos from the 2005 fieldschool

In the summer of 2005, Rice University undergraduates Abby Smith, Amy Foutch, and Ben Walker, participated in the Gorée Archaeological Fieldschool. The program was headed by Dr Ibrahima Thiaw, with lab instruction from Dr Susan McIntosh and Dr Shawn Murray. To see photos of this excavation season, click on Fieldschool Photos.

group excavating

Day Tripping on the Island of Ngor

One of the highlights of the Gorée Fieldschool was a day trip, led by Raina Croff, to the island of Ngor, just north of Dakar. First we took the ferry to Dakar, then jumped in a car-rapide headed for the northern coast of Dakar. To see more, click on Ngor Daytrip.

Inside a car-rapide, bumping through Dakar

Traveling around Sénégal

Near the end of the fieldschool session, we decided to see as much of Senegal as we possibly could in a couple of days. Very fortunately, Amadou Thiaw (brother of our project director, Ibrahima) agreed to accompany us as our guide. We started our trip by heading south to the twin towns of Joal and Fadiout. Fadiout is a visually interesting island community consisting of Muslims and Christians. A nearby island houses the communities granaries, and another island, connected by a bridge, shelters a pretty-pretty cemetery. See more of our trip at Tripping Around Senegal

Amy in pirogue in Foundiougne mangroves
Amy in pirogue floating through Foundiougne mangroves

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