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Costa Rica: Faculty Led: Archaeological Field School
Guacimo de Limon, Costa Rica (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Spring
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Fact Sheet:
SUNY code: 800
Program Description:

Program Information | Requirements | Academics | Support Services | Housing | Cost Estimates | Resources

Program Information

The Las Mercedes Archaeological Project field school carries on a UAlbany tradition of providing undergraduate and graduate training in archaeological field methods. The site of Las Mercedes is located on the piedmont of Costa Rica's Atlantic watershed and was occupied from A.D. 1000 to 1500. It was the center of a large chiefdom the likes of which early Spanish explorers reported from the coast of Panama. Research goals of this project include documenting the processes required to establish political power and its maintenance in pre-state societies as well as the integration of ethnohistorical data to address these issues.

This project contributes to the University's priority of global outreach and also to UAlbany Study Abroad's current focus on Costa Rica as a safe and affordable location for students to study. Dr. Rosenswig will lead the Las Mercedes Project in collaboration with Dr. Ricardo Vazquez from the National Museum of Costa Rica. Dr. Vazquez earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at UAlbany in 2014.

During the past decade, over 170 undergraduate and 50 graduate students have participated on UAlbany field schools. Students participate directly in archaeological discovery and the recovery of primary scientific data about prehistoric society. Undergraduate students learn basic scientific skills essential for the archaeological excavation and they practice a variety of methodological approaches appropriate to a full range of research objectives. These skills provide the credentials needed for employment with private archaeology companies once they return to the US. A field school is also the first step in professional training of students who pursue archaeology in an academic setting.

Visit the Archaeological Field School website at



Students are eligible to participate after one succesful semester of college level study. Permission of Dr. Rosenswig is required.
NOTE: Admissions decisions will be made on a rolling basis. Apply early as spaces are expected to fill quickly.



This archaeological field school experience yields a total of 9 credits.  Dr. Robert Rosenswig will teach the two field school courses: AANT 335 (3 credits) and AANT 338 (6 credits). The latter is an intensive field course of practical instruction and hands-on learning that comprises the 8 hours per day (5.5 days per week) of field work. The former consist of evening lectures, lab training and weekend field trips to archaeological sites in the region.

AANT 335: Field Methods in Archaeology (3 credits)
This course introduces undergraduates to field and laboratory techniques in archaeology through lectures, practical demonstrations and exercises in the field, and readings. It will be taught in tandem with AANT 338 under the auspices of the Las Mercedes Archaeological Project in Costa Rica, Central America. Students will acquire skills in setting up excavation units, recording elevations, selecting excavation strategies and areas to test, filling out field records, making field observations, drawing plan, profile, and site maps as well as laboratory processing of artifacts. These skills will be practiced daily in the field. Students will be required to pass a practical exam demonstrating competence in a full range of field skills and a written exam on field methods.

AANT 338: Archaeological Field Research (6 credits)
Students will join the research team of the Las Mercedes Archaeological Project as assistant staff members in the exploration of the monumental core of the Las Mercedes site. This field research course will stress links between data collection and interpretation. The research objective of this project will be contextualized within the context of lower Central American archaeology. Lectures will cover a range of topics on archaeological research, and field trips will be taken to nearby sites. This course will be taught in tandem with Aant 335.

Various 8 week quarter classes are offered at UAlbany each year and students are encouraged to explore their options for the March-May session:

Students may also be able to register for independent study credit with Dr. Rosenswig if they arrange this prior to leaving for Costa Rica. In addition, the Department of Anthropology will offer Human Osteology as a quarter class that students can enroll in and begin once they return to UAlbany. Please contact Dr. McCarthy for more information at 

AANT 311 Human Osteology (3 credits)
This course is an intensive study of the anatomy of the human skeleton. This course will
cover bone histology, growth and development of bones, common pathological conditions,
the determination of age and sex from skeletal material, and the identification of whole and
fragmented bones in archaeological and forensic contexts. This course will include a
laboratory component to provide students with the opportunity to examine the material
discussed in class. Prerequisite(s): Junior or senior class standing and permission of the instructor. R. McCarthy,


Support Services

Student participants are accompanied by Dr. Robert Rosenswig of UAlbany's Department of Anthropology and also have the full support of the EARTH University staff.

Click here for more information about the EARTH University's student services: 



Students and staff will live in the modern, clean campus residences of the Earth University.

Click here for General Information About Housing at EARTH University  



Please download the most recent estimate of costs here: Cost Estimate for Archaeological Field School Spring 2012

The cost of the field school is $3100 plus the costs of SUNY tuition for 9 credits at the usual rates and the mandatory international health insurance. Airfare is not included; students are responsible for the cost of round-trip airfare to Costa Rica.

1) Fill out the field school application form located at (see the application form link on the left side of the page) and email it to

2) Click on 'Apply Now' on this website and fill out an on-line study abroad application. NOTE:You must complete both the field school project application and the study abroad application.

3) Then send a check payable to "University Auxiliary Services " for $200 (non-refundable) to:

Dr. Robert M. Rosenswig,
Department of Anthropology
The University at Albany-SUNY
1400 Washington Ave, AS 237
Albany, NY 12222


Click here for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid



Visit the Archaeological Field School website at


Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2017 10/01/2016 10/15/2016 01/15/2017 02/26/2017
NOTE: Insurance dates: 1/10/17-3/10/17