Anthropology Field Studies

NOTE: Due to safety measures surrounding the Coronavirus the NMU Archaeology summer field school scheduled for this summer had to be canceled. In lieu of that we are going to try a fall field school at a local site. Stay tuned for more details.

NMU Archaeology Summer Field School - Summer 2018 People taking a group photo

AN355 - The Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods course (Summer Archaeology Field School) will be offered this summer (2018) from May 20th to June 16th. We will once again be on beautiful Beaver Island, Lake Michigan. This is a 6-credit, 4-week course that includes daily field work and evening lab work. Join Northern Michigan University students and Great Lakes Archaeologist Dr. Scott Demel on Beaver Island, MI this summer as we explore the island's prehistory and early history. We will continue our excavations at the Late Woodland/Proto-historic/Mormon MPS-Isle du Castor site, survey and map Protar's farmstead (the island's first 'doctor'), and renew our search for the French fort. Learn archaeological survey methods and mapping skills, shovel testing and excavation methods, compass and GPS use, photography, and artifact analysis in a lab setting (evenings). Email Dr. Demel ( for more information and an application. Adult learners welcome to register (upon approval).

Register for AN355 Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods (6 credits); estimated additional cost of $1350-1450 for 4 weeks of room and board, 3 meals a day, round-trip ferry ride, and island transportation to/from sites. Scholarships available for NMU students. We anticipate having limited scholarships available to some non-NMU students to help offset the fee (more information to follow on our web site soon).

We will be staying in rustic cabins and/or dorms at CMU's biological field station on the island (beds, electric, hot showers; tent camp sites if you prefer), and we will enjoy our meals (3 per day) at the cafeteria. Connect via wi-fi in CMU's comfortable lounge area in the lodge, while looking out over Lake Michigan. Enjoy the island's diverse wildlife, swim, fish, kayak, snorkel, and explore the many historic sites (group outings included).

For more information see the following:

NMU Archaeology on Facebook:


See photos of the NMU Archaeological Field School – Summer 2014 Beaver Island

Beaver Island Archaeological Drone Survey Project: To assist with documenting archaeological sites, with the preparation of more accurate maps, and with relocating former structures, foundations and features we have employed the use of a Phantom II drone outfitted with a Zenhause Gimbal and a Go-Pro Hero 3 digital camera. Below are examples of an aerial views of one of our sites behind the former Mormon Print Shop (currently the Beaver Island Historical Society). The image to the right is an early aerial photograph (ca. 1940) that shows the same area. We compared these images to determine the location of foundations and other early structures. Subsequent ground-truthing proved successful and features were relocated. For an example of a drone flyover video go to:

Drone Shot

Drone ShotAn Aerial Photo

For a music video/photo review of summer field schools (2010, 2012, and 2014) go to:

Check out our NMU Archaeology Facebook page:

Anthropology Faculty Fieldwork Update

2018. Mt. Mesnard, Marquette MI. Work on a red sandstone quarry site commenced this past fall with the Historical Archaeology class. We were able to document one of the red sandstone quarries on the south side of Mt. Mesnard and to document the artifacts found during our investigation. A second cabin location was also discovered and initial investigations and mapping was started. This ongoing investigation has documented the remains of an 1890s quarry operation and cabin, as well as a prehistoric quartzite quarry. 

2018. Beaver Island - MPS- île de Castor Site, and the Theodore Protar Homestead. Work continued once again at the MPS site in an attempt to wrap up our investigations there. Four more excavation units were completed at the site, while three units were completed at the Protar Homestead. Features at the MPS site include several hearths, a smudge pit, and the continuation of a possible fortification wall (post construction). A black bear canine was recovered, as were turtle bones, and spines from a 5'-6' long sturgeon. More 1850s and post-1850s historical, Contact Period, and Late Woodland Period artifacts were recovered. The ancient garden beds were relocated and flotation samples reveal what appear to be charred beans (analysis pending). A surface survey at the Theodore Protar Homestead was also conducted to document the remains of his barn and outbuildings. A privy was excavated, revealing artifacts from the original occupants of the cabin, and subsequent occupation by Protar.

2016. Beaver Island -  MPS - île de Castor Site, French Bay, Cable Bay site. Work continued at the MPS site, working through the various horizons down to the Late Woodland anthrosol. Features discovered include a smudge pit, hearths, a fish processing pit, and a section of wall (post construction) that may be Late Woodland or Contact Period (analysis pending). A shovel probe survey in an area of French Bay helped define the ca. 1900-1910 lumber camp, while text excavations were concluded at the Cable Bay site. 

2012 and 2014. Beaver Island - Mormon Print Shop & île de Castor Site. Test excavations occurred behind the old Mormon Print Shop (current home of the Beaver Island Historical Society) during the summer archaeology field school (2012); artifact analysis is underway from this multi-component site. Beneath the historic layers was an occupation horizon from the Late Woodland Period (ca. A.D. 900-1100), complete with pottery, stone tools, cultural features filled with fish bones, charred sand cherry fruit, and butchered beaver. This may have been a late summer or fall beaver hide processing station. Radiocarbon dates from two pieces of charcoal associated with pottery came in at 925 +/- 15 BP (ca. AD 1025) and 840 +/- 15 BP (ca. AD 1110).

2010. Beaver Island - Cable's Bay Fishing Village. Survey and test excavations took place at this coastal site during the NMU summer 2010 archaeology field school and during the summer of 2011; artifact analysis continues. Research and results of analyses were exhibited in "Scattered To The Winds - The Vanished Community of Cable's Bay" which ran from April to September of 2012 at the Beaumier UP Heritage Center on NMU's campus. Portions of this collection may be exhibited at the Beaver Island Historical Society in the future.

2010. Beaver Island - Burke Farm. Survey and test excavations took place at the Mormon and Irish farmstead during the NMU summer 2010 archaeology field school; artifact analysis continues.