Beaver Island 2014

AN 355 – Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods

(information updated 4/1/2014)

Archaeology Team Excavates the Burke Farm

Archaeology student team members excavate the Burke Farm

Summer 2014 Field School Information

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Join Northern Michigan University students and Dr. Scott Demel on Beaver Island, Lake Michigan this summer as we investigate the island's early history and prehistory. This summer we will be returning to the MPS-Isle de Castor Site. This multi-component site is situated behind the Beaver Island Historical Society building in the town of St. James. We are expanding our 2012 test excavation area to learn more about the interesting history, and prehistory of the location. Two of the components include a proto-historic level with trade goods, and a Late Woodland camp where hunters processed beaver skins and cooked fish in large pits. We will also learn how to conduct shovel probes and surface surveys at other locations on the island. In addition to field methods, students will learn archaeology lab methods where you process and analyze the artifacts you find. Outings include trips to various historic sites on the island, and to search for the island's chert resources.

The archaeology field school will be held for four weeks - May 18 - June 14. We will be staying in rustic cabins at CMU's biological field station (beds, electric, hot showers; camp sites if you prefer), and will enjoy our meals (3 per day) at the cafeteria. Enjoy the island's diverse wildlife, swim, fish, kayak, snorkel, and explore the many historic sites. For more information and to view photos from the 2010 and 2012 field schools, see NMU's Anthropology web site.

The Archaeology Summer Field School is run by Dr. Scott Demel, archaeologist in the Anthropology component of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at NMU. The location of the field school this summer will be on Beaver Island, which is the largest island in Lake Michigan, a short 2+ hour ferry ride from Charlevoix, MI. During the course students will learn the fundamentals of archaeological field methods, including surveying, shovel probing, and excavation. Between excavating and lab work, students will gain hands-on experience with artifact analysis. Students learn these skill sets and techniques through the excavation of the multi-component site mentioned above, and will participate in the search for the earliest prehistoric site on the island. Students are provided with a binder of materials, which will help further their knowledge of Beaver Island, as well as excavation techniques, soils, photography, mapping, and compass use. This field school is geared toward providing students with the necessary experience to be employed in CRM (Cultural Resource Management) archaeology.

Registration: Register for AN355 - Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods (6 credits); in addition to tuition there is an estimated additional cost of $1200* for room and board, all meals, round-trip ferry ride, and island transportation to/from sites (covers all 4 weeks).[* costs are subject to change because of CMU facility or ferry increases; pending].

Photo Gallery:  View a  sample collection of photos from the 2010 archaeology field school here.


Beaver Island map screed

Beaver Island:  The island lies in the northern portion of Lake Michigan. The island is approximately 13 miles long, 6 miles wide and roughly 55 square miles in area. It is a 2-2.5 hour long boat ride starting in Charlevoix, MI and is approximately 32 miles from the mainland to the island. The town of St. James on Beaver Island is equipped with a grocery store, multiple restaurants, and has a variety of extracurricular activities. There are two lighthouses, seven inland lakes, fishing, swimming, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking that the island has to offer its visitors. We will also be using the facilities of Central Michigan University. These include the use of seminar rooms, lab space, as well as the library and cafeteria areas. There are also rustic cabins and camping spaces located near these facilities where we will be staying.



This summer’s field school will last four weeks beginning Sunday May 18th and running until Saturday June 14th. We depart Charlevoix on the 2:30 pm ferry and will arrive on Beaver Island and disembark a few hours later. From there we will head to the CMU station. We begin the next morning. Our last day in the field is June 13th. We head off the island at 11:20 am on Saturday the 14th and arrive in Charlevoix a few hours later. If you drive to Charlevoix you can leave your vehicle in the extended parking lot that the Beaver Island Boat Company runs. 

Fieldwork and lab work will be conducted each week from Monday until Saturday afternoon. Sunday will be a day off where students can go and explore what Beaver Island has to offer. Weekly discussions as well as tours of the island will also be provided.

excavation under way

Excavation under way!


The cost for the Beaver Island Archaeology Field School this summer is estimated to be $1200* plus tuition (*final cost determination pending). The $1200 includes: one round trip ferry ride, lodging in rustic cabins, transportation to and from excavation sites, as well as all meals at the CMU cafeteria (vegetarian option available). Lots of suitable bike paths and places to see - it is recommended that you bring your own bike ($10 each way on the ferry), but rentals are available on the island. There is also a local airport available if you prefer to fly at an extra cost.

Eligibility and Insurance:

To be eligible for this field school you must be enrolled in a college. No previous experience in archaeology coursework is necessary – but it is recommended. All students must have health insurance and be able to provide proof of insurance if accepted into the Beaver Island Field School.

cables Bay

Cable’s Bay survey and testing underway

Health Insurance: If you don’t have health insurance you can get an enrollment package from the NMU Health Center. Go to the NMU web site and search “health insurance.” Collegiate Risk Management is listed as an insurance agent and can be contacted at 1-800-922-3420.

Payment Plan: If you would like information on paying summer tuition in installments, ask about this option when registering for the course, or contact Students Services at 906-227-1221.

Financial Aid: Information about 2014 summer financial aid is available at Additional information on FAFSA can be obtained from (NMU code: 002301).

Scholarships: ***We anticipate that several SCHOLARSHIPS will be available to defray some of the field school costs. Although all students can apply for the scholarships, priority will go to NMU students.***

You must provide a complete field school application. 


NMU Faculty

Dr Demel

Dr. Scott Demel

Dr. Scott J. Demel, Field School Director

Certifications: CPR

Bio:  Dr. Demel is a full-time Assistant Professor of Anthropology at NMU. He received his doctoral degree in archaeology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with an emphasis in Great Lakes archaeology; and a minor in geology. Scott is interested in how different ethnic groups have used the Great Lakes throughout prehistory and into the early 19th century. To fully understand the opportunities offered along the coasts of these inland waterways he also studies all aspects of the natural environment and cultural landscape to learn how humans have adapted to this dynamic landscape.

Prior to coming to NMU to teach in the Fall of 2009, Dr. Demel worked at The Field Museum in Chicago  where he was the Head of Collections for the Department of Anthropology. He has co-directed numerous archaeology field schools in the Great Lakes region. Some of his recent research includes archaeological sites: Camp Douglas - Civil War Prison (Chicago), Tetter Homestead – Kankakee IL (reconstruction era), Pullman State Historic Site - Chicago (early industrial), the Kubinski Site - a Middle Woodland Ossuary (Romeoville, IL), and the Brewster Creek Mastodon (DuPage County, IL), Burke Farm – Beaver Island, Cable’s Bay – Beaver Island, an immigrant neighborhood in Chinatown – Chicago, and a multi-component site on Mount Marquette/Mt. Mesnard, in Marquette County, MI.

protars home

A visit to Protar's former home


Students or continuing education adults must fill out and send in an application, which includes a personal statement. Students that wish to apply for a scholarship also need to provide a current transcript with their application. Students should register for the Summer I term offering of AN355 - Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods. Please send all application materials to:

Dr. Scott Demel
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette, MI 49855

Phone: 906-227-2843

E-mail Address:

Additional Information:

If you have any questions, concerns, or want more information regarding the field school please feel free to contact Dr. Scott Demel. Please put “Summer Field School” in the subject line of an e-mail.

Download Health Insurance information here.