Fort Garland Field School continues to draw international interest

by Alyssa Montoya, class of 2012

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In the summer of 2004, Dr. Richard Goddard, accompanied by one student and two volunteers, began exploratory excavations at old Fort Garland, in Fort Garland, Colorado. Goddard, an archaeologist in the Department of History, Government, and Philosophy, wanted to determine whether enough remained of the old fort for him to operate an archaeological field school there. The results of that season's work confirmed that, indeed, there were rich remains. In the summer of 2008, Goddard, with a staff of 5 and a crew of 20 students and 4 volunteers, completed their fifth successful season of the Fort Garland Field School in Historical Archaeology.

The field school has a twofold purpose: training students in archaeology and conducting research on the impact of a frontier fort on both its occupants and the local inhabitants of the San Luis Valley. In 2008, students came from 16 colleges and universities and 2 high schools.

In recent years, the field school has received both national and international recognition. In 2007, a student from Cambridge University in England attended followed in 2008 by one staff member and one student.

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In 2008, Goddard was contacted by two publishers in Britain. One wanted to include the field school in a listing of archaeological opportunities that is circulated throughout Europe, and the other wanted him to write an article for their on-line archaeology journal. He has also been contacted by a representative of the History Channel about the possibility using the project as the subject of a future program.

Another aspect of the project that has received particular attention is the fact that it is open to anyone who wants to participate. Whether or not someone is enrolled in an academic program, they can take the course for credit through Extended Studies. Furthermore, the project is open to volunteers and visitors. Each season, volunteers from avocational archaeologists, to graduate students, to archaeologists with Ph.D.s show up for the experience.

Goddard has noted that the San Luis Valley has provides a myriad of opportunities for the study of anthropology and archaeology. "I consider myself very fortunate to have ended up in a place where I can pursue both of my passions, teaching and research, at the same time."