The MTSU Archaeological Field School is the only field school in Tennessee currently certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists (and only one of 16 in the US and 1 international). The designation of RPA-7 means the class meets for 35 days/7weeks, and those are full 8 hour days!
What does it take to be a certified field school? Glad you asked!
The field school meets a set of professional standards covering the following five areas:
- Purpose. The field school must have both an explicit research design and an explicit curriculum design that integrates research with student education.
- Personnel. The Director or Principal Investigator of the field school must be RPA- certified.
- Operational Procedure. The field school must include formal instruction on field techniques including excavation, survey, and laboratory work.
- Field Procedure. The field school must include proper data recovery and recording techniques.
- Sponsor. The sponsoring institution must provide appropriate resources for laboratory work, curation, and publication/distribution of the research results.
You can read the in-depth guidelines here.
How does the RPA know that the field school meets the above criteria? There is an application process, of course!
For the educational component: Dr. Peres submitted a 22 page course syllabus detailing the course objectives, expectations for students, and daily and weekly schedules.
For the research component: Dr. Peres submitted a 10 page (single-spaced) research design which detailed the objectives of RCARP and why we specifically are working at Magnolia Valley in 2014.
What does RPA-7 mean for the students?
This designation immediately signifies to prospective employers that the field school was 8 hrs day/7 weeks (the minimum for certification is 4 weeks).
The Project Director is RPA certified (and thus qualified to train students and conduct archaeological research).
A set of standard professional methods for survey, excavation, data recordation, and lab methods were taught throughout the course.
After students have successfully completed the field school this summer they will receive a certificate attesting to this achievement.