June 18, 2024

With advising week steadily approaching Wittenberg students will have the opportunity to become a member of the college’s brand new minor: archaeology.
Program Director and Department Chair for the Department of History Dr. Darlene Brooks Hedstrom said while it is impossible to take students on excavations to places in turmoil such as Egypt, her work at the Geiger House and the Gammon House, both in Springfield, inspired her to develop the new program.
During a time of financial distress in which programs, faculty and staff are included in budget cuts, Brooks Hedstrom assures the minor draws on existing faculty and courses offered, including the first-year experience program.
The Archaeology minor was made possible through a donation of $1,500 from Wittenberg alumna and professional archaeologist Nancy L. Benco (’66) which was in turn matched by Lanty Smith (’64), a member of the Board of Directors. Students that are a part of the history program on campus are also eligible to apply for the Nancy L. Benco Archaeological Research Fund for research and fieldwork purposes.
“Campus archaeology is a developing field,” said Brooks Hedstrom. “We have an old campus; I want to really do this and create something [and] the funds helped me to think about this in a different way.”
Existing professors from the history, art history, geology, religion and sociology departments make up the faculty for the program; the minor is also designed to prepare students for future study in a variety of fields including curatorial studies, cultural research management, and historic preservation, among others.
These fields cultivate career-specific paths within the minor based on students’ majors. For example, history majors may choose to focus on early American archaeology that includes courses such as HIS 121: U.S. History and GEOL 113: Ohio Geology. Other fields include bioanthropology for sociology majors or Syro-Palestinian archaeology for religion majors.
The new program will also utilize Wittenberg’s newer May Term.
“Archaeological Field Methods” will offer students the opportunity to excavate on Wittenberg’s campus and participate in the Nearby Archaeology Project at Wittenberg. The course will include three weeks of experience involving mapping, documentation, photography, and report writing.
“The minor includes a combination of techniques plus exposure in the field and what a student is doing in their major,” Brooks Hedstrom said. “In the May term we could actually do something with three weeks of intensive lab; I thought, ‘if I can do this every May why can’t I put together a minor?’ The one thing we didn’t have was an introduction course, so I proposed it.”
“Introduction to Archaeology” will be among the offered course listings this fall. Coverage of last year’s field methods course is available on Wittenberg’s Vimeo page that includes interviews of students and footage of their excavation of the old Alpha Xi Delta sorority site.

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