Research and Impact

Anthropology students conduct mid-semester archaeology fieldwork in Virginia 

Joseph Gingerich led Ohio University students back to Virginia in November, continuing his research to document eroding archaeological sites along the Roanoke River.

Supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the on-site experience gave OHIO students the opportunity to learn advanced mapping and excavation skills.

Rain out conditions during this year’s field session.
Rain out conditions during this year’s field session. | Photo courtesy of David Lamp

The sites being documented are some of the oldest known in North America dating back to 13,000 years ago.

“This a very unique opportunity for students to work on a series of very early sites. Also as these sites are being actively eroded by water, students work in challenging and wet conditions that help them become more resilient,” said Gingerich, associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University.

Senior Nellie Sullivan water screening.
Senior Nellie Sullivan water screening. | Photo by Ben Siegel

“I learned a lot on this trip and had many opportunities to get professional advice that will definitely help me transition into the field after graduation. My time spent in Smith Mountain in Virginia on this project is something I am extremely grateful for and will be one of my core memories from OHIO,” said senior Nellie Sullivan, who is majoring in anthropology and pursuing a Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Certificate, as well as minoring in Spanish.

Senior Cassady Wallace, also a major in anthropology, added that “this trip was a great learning opportunity. I got to work on a professional archaeology site and learn how a multi-year site works. It was unique to work on a Clovis site because they are so rare. It was fun to meet all the different people there and talk to them about what they do for their jobs. I also learned about different job opportunities for when I graduate and what I can expect from those jobs.”

The students are also gaining lab skills that will aid them in careers in archaeology and museum studies.

Senior Emma Kinsinger working on the project.
Senior Emma Kinsinger working on the project. | Photo by Ben Siegel

Gingerich’s work in the Roanoke River Valley has recently been published in “The American Southeast at the End of the Ice Age,” contributing to what is known about the early prehistory of Virginia and the broader southeastern United States. His work on this project has allowed him to propose new ideas about early settlement patterns in the more mountainous areas of the region.

Gingerich also took students to Virginia in November 2021 to take part in an archeological dig.

November 29, 2022
Staff reports