Field Course in Archaeological Methods, Honduras

This six-week program provides an intensive introduction to field practice in archaeology. The summer session is part of a long-term research project on the colonial period in the Ulua River Valley of northwest Honduras under the sponsorship of the Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History.

Faculty: Rosemary Joyce
UC Berkeley Course: Anthropology 134A.4
Duration: 05/26-07/02/09


The summer field project will focus on investigation of the Late Postclassic and Colonial Periods, with a goal of contributing to our understanding of less understood aspects of colonial life, and in particular of the experiences of people of indigenous and African descent. Methodologically, emphasis will be on the process of site discovery, survey and data recording, but students will also be introduced to research design, mapping, and laboratory analysis of artifacts. In addition to formal instruction in archaeology, the program allows time for a weekend excursion to the classic Maya city, Copan, famous for its palaces, temples, royal portraits in stone and written texts (costs for this optional side trip are not included in the course fee). Participants will also be able to use free time to explore the Caribbean coast of Honduras or the mountainous areas surrounding the Ulua River's floodplains.

This is a physically demanding program involving high levels of activity in conditions of intense heat and humidity. Participant living conditions, in a modest hotel, are simple and require an ability to adapt to more primitive facilities than are the norm in the US. Accommodations will be shared with other participants. Honduras is a Spanish-speaking country, and knowledge of Spanish, while not required, is helpful. Background course work in archaeology and the prehistory of Mexico and Central America is helpful but not required.

Program costs

Students will enroll in Anthropology 134A through the Berkeley Summer Session, paying the course registration fee of $1524 (UC students--$1740 for visiting students) and a one time campus fee of $126.

Students considering this course will also have to budget for costs of travel to Honduras, lodging in Honduras from May 31 to June 27, meals and optional weekend travel. Lodging costs for shared double, triple or quad room are estimated at $900; arrangements for single rooms are possible but costs will be higher. San Pedro Sula is the site of an international airport, served by a number of airlines, including American, Continental, and Taca. Daily meal costs can be quite modest, from $2 a day, up to as much as $20 for dinner at one of the best restaurants in San Pedro Sula on the weekend. Using an estimate of $10/day, food costs should cost around $300 for the four week field season. The field school includes three free weekends, one of which can be spent on a field trip to the Classic Maya site, Copan (costs not included; allow $100). Optional travel to the Caribbean coast or ecotourism resorts such as Lake Yojoa or the Cusuco rainforest preserve, where quetzal birds can be seen, should be estimated at $50-$100 per weekend.


Applications for the program will be accepted through the end of April; selection of students will begin April 1, so early application is advised as enrollment is limited. Accepted applicants will be given the course control number to register through Summer Sessions after notification of acceptance. In order to be considered, please fill out the Application and return to:

Rosemary Joyce, Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3710

For more information about the field site and project, you can contact Professor Joyce via email at

Required Reading: Selections from Thomas Hester, Harry Shafer, and Kenneth L. Feder 1997 Field Methods in Archaeology. McGraw-Hill Humanities. A bSpace website will provide access to background articles on the archaeology of colonial Honduras, with assigned reading to be completed in the first week before arrival in Honduras. The final reflection paper due the last week, after return from Honduras, should reference these readings.

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