A group of villagers

In The Field

California Field School -ON HIATUS THIS SUMMER


  Clear Lake


Currently not running summer 2022

Foothill’s Anthropology Department spent July in Lake County, California on an archaeology project and it was amazing. We accomplished so much individually and as a group.  The anthropology students strongly connected with the surrounding community as they camped in the local state park and quite literally met thousands of people from the region. We were on the radio, in the newspaper, volunteering at museum events, and generally taking part in everything that Clear Lake and its surrounding towns had to offer. 

We were in Lake County at the request of the Ely Stage Stop Museum focusing on a salvage project investigating the proposed site where an old stagecoach stop sat.  A new highway will destroy what is left in the ground, so we took up the challenge to document what we could in a short amount of time. While our students were engaged in high-impact learning through excavation, surveys, and lab work, they also knew that they were engaging in a larger service project for the community.

The work lasted for twenty days of camping, and as the team members became more and more equipped they began engaging the indigenous Pomo tribal members living locally.  A major theme of the program was our continuing efforts to address the narrative of archaeology as a colonial endeavor.  It was imperative to understand the history of the region, in particular the imperial conquest of the region through taking of lands, forced enslavement, and outright killing by European settlers and subsequently the U.S Government.  Students were treated to direct and tangible evidence of this takeover as related by local Pomo and vistis to their historical places.  The native perspective of the earth - as caretakers - was an important discovery, as we witnessed firsthand the destruction of forest fires and drought on Clear Lake and the surrounding mountains.

Everyone took part in the excavations and data recording in the laboratory. All the earth was screened for artifacts, which ranged from modern plastic to pottery from the 1850s, when the stage coach was in operation. After excavation, materials were turned over to the lab for detailed analysis and database input.  This was the first lab from Foothill where every student learned nail typologies, looked at bottle types, and studied animal bones! 

Students also took part in our survey of the site with Ground-penetrating Radar (GPR) and everyone took part in using the equipment.  They also expanded survey to an area near the lakeside. The water level was six feet below normal creating newly exposed beaches, which were walked by teams who discovered sites that were previously unrecorded.  Students identified and mapped never before been seen artifact scatters.

Ultimately, everyone wrote up a Student Independent Projects (SIPs) that covered topics of their own interest, which not only focused on the archaeology but also ranged from lake revitalization and native perspectives to the damaged local tourism economy and the importance of Chinese immigrants to the area. A new student-led journal is being created that will show the incredible research and their new perspectives. Overall, it was an extremely valuable experience for students and professors alike. We cannot wait to return next year.

 the group

  the survey





the lab



Last Year's Program Announcement....

We are announcing the Clear Lake Archaeology Program, July 6-29, a project including archaeological survey and excavations, experimental archaeology, ground-penetrating radar training, and service learning with the community. 

Join us in the mountains north of San Francisco for an excellent and affordable introduction into archaeology, history, and service leadership with our local Summer Field School.

Learn about the rich cultural diversity present in our everyday landscapes. We will work in an area with stunning natural beauty located at beautiful Clear Lake.

You will be part of a team that will examine an area of the north central coastal ranges that has had few previous formal archaeological investigations and will greatly contribute to the emergent literature of the region.

Work on all aspects of the research project, including archaeological survey, excavation strategies, and artifact analysis.



 Three weeks in the Clear Lake basin on a research and service learning program of study. Finally, Foothill College’s Department of Anthropology is offering a low cost field program in California. Our course study will be led by Dr Samuel Connell and colleagues who are studying the remarkable history of the Clear Lake region through time. This summer student survey and excavations will focus on the historically significant site of the Ely Stage Stop, which was used as a stage coach stop, public house, hotel and a school for boys. Students will be learning all aspects of fieldwork from survey, ground-penetrating radar, excavation techniques and laboratory work. Eight course credits are offered [Anth 17L, 51,& 52]. The work involves defining foundations of the main building, finding the privies and excavating the out buildings. Each student is required to carry out individual research on a topic of their choice and prepare a Student Independent Pilot Project final paper. Lastly, every student will be heavily involved in community development projects with various stakeholders, to include the Lake County Historical Society.

Project Website for more details.  Preliminary Application is the red button on the right. 

students in foothills

Project Directors & Instructors

 Samuel Connell, PhD (Foothill College)

Ana Lucia Gonzalez, MA  (Foothill College)

Douglas Prather, MA (Mendocino College)

Maureen Carpenter, BA (Berkeley)

John Parker, PhD (UCLA)


A Note About Covid: 

-Update April 2021 - This program is on, we are accepting applicants. Safety protocols have been put in place, see our website for further details. We are closely monitoring the current COVID-19 pandemic in advance of the 2021 field season.  

While we are planning for a field season in 2021, we will continue to monitor the issues around travel restrictions and the various jurisdictional requirements. We also anticipate applying strict COVID-19 safeguards to our operation both in the field and where we reside to protect ourselves as well as the community we are working in.  If, however, we are forced to cancel the program, we will alert all applicants immediately.

What will you be Learning?

  • California and Bay Area Prehistory
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • Evaluate to Sampling Designs
  • Use of Total Station Survey Instruments
  • Excavation Methodology
  • Artifacts ID, Curation, and Analysis
  • Write Professional Field Notes
  • Interpret data into behavioral activities
  • Data Management
  • Develop Field Reports.


Course Titles
ANTH 52 Archaeological Field Methods (4 units)
ANTH 50 Archaeological Survey (2 units)
ANTH 12 Applied Anthropology (4 units)
ANTH 17 Archaeology Lab (2 units)



 Short Course Description:

This course will introduce students to fundamentals in archaeological field methods and theory. It will provide on-hand training for the investigation of different types of archaeological sites including field survey and sub-surface sampling strategies. Students will learn to identify local artifact types and lab techniques for artifact cleaning, analysis, photography, curation, and data management. The course will provide students a foundation in local cultural and environmental contexts with emphasis on the application of anthropological theory for final report writing.

PRELIM APPLICATION - not available

Anthropology skulls

We're Here to Help!

Anthropology Department

Sam: 650.949.7197
Kathryn: 650.949.7751

Samuel Connell
Kathryn Maurer


Office 3017, Main Campus