Dr. Maria Bruno, Archaeology

Place-based and Community-based Components in Archaeological Method & Theory

Maria Bruno attended the Valley & Ridge Program in order to implement place-based and community-based components to Archaeological Method and Theory (ARCH/ANTH 300), a required course for the Archaeology major. It is designed to teach basic field and laboratory methods as well as introduce the major theoretical frameworks employed in archaeological interpretation. It has always had an experiential-learning foundation, as students are taught archaeological survey, excavation, and artifact analysis by doing these tasks in the Dickinson College “Dig Simulator”. Through the Valley and Ridge program, Maria worked to apply these activities to the real archaeological contexts that surround Dickinson College in the Cumberland Valley. For example, to learn about archaeological aerial and pedestrian survey methods, students carry out a series of classroom and field activities related to the archaeology of the Iron Ore Industry at Pine Grove Furnace in the South Mountain area. Because the Iron Ore Industry required the exploitation of the region’s natural resources, both mineral and floral, the students must also learn about the basic geology and ecology of the region.

In the coming years, we hope to implement excavation in the South Mountain region as well. Because the Archaeology faculty has research areas in Greece and South America, this course provides one of the only opportunities for students to learn about the archaeology of the region in which they currently reside. This place-based approach also generates important opportunities for the students to engage with the community. To implement the projects, they must collaborate with local organizations that manage these cultural resources such as the Cumberland Valley Historical Society and the South Mountain Partnership, part of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. For their final assignment, students must create posters for the general public about the archaeological discoveries they made during the class.