Dispatches from the field

This summer SFU students are reporting in about their experiences at SFU field schools and experiential learning courses around the world. They’re studying archaeology in Portugal, contemporary art in Berlin, design in Italy, history in Greece, international cybercrime in Scotland…and much more.  

Watch for their reports in our social media channels and in SFU News online.

Students dig up the past at bioarchaeological field school in Portugal

August 10, 2018

A small southern Portuguese village became the setting for a new SFU field school in bioarchaeology this summer. Fifteen students spent six weeks as part of a 35-member team excavating a medieval cemetery in the village of Cacela-Velha, in Portugal’s southern Algarve.

The idea for the field school grew from SFU archaeology professor Hugo Cardoso’s discussions with Portuguese colleagues. They noted the area’s amenability to further exploration of the social, cultural, economic and political impacts of early Islamic occupation on medieval Portugal, and saw an opportunity.

Offered for the first time this summer, the field school is a component of the Muslims and Christians in Medieval Cacela: Changing Territories and Identities archaeological project. The joint initiative between the Algarve Regional Cultural directorship, the University of Algarve, the Municipality of Vila Real de Santo Antonio and SFU seeks to further understand the region’s rich history, following a series of earlier studies between 1997-2007.

Students excavated an Islamic town, which had been abandoned before the Christian conquest of the village in the mid 13th century. It later became the site of a cemetery.

Led by field school instructor Hugo Cardoso, students received hands-on training in excavating, documentating and treating human remains from archaeological sites.The field school offered a rare experience for SFU students, given there are very few opportunities to be involved in excavating funerary contexts in Canada.

“We were excited to develop this new field school, given the unique opportunity that the Portuguese site presented, and given the growing interest among students in bioarchaeology, funerary archaeology and human osteology,” says Cardoso.

Barbara Winter, director of SFU’s Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, travelled with the group to Portugal. She says students gained a first-hand perspective on the discipline after being exposed to a different side of archaeology and experiencing the site’s unique historic and cultural contexts. 

The SFU team was mentioned in numerous Portuguese news articles detailing the project, and joined in sharing their findings with the local community.

See more dispatches from the field:

Absorbing culture in iconic Berlin

Hellenic Studies' field school