Don’t like to get your hands dirty? Dreading the thought of loading 30 screaming sixth graders onto a bus headed to Niles, Mich.? Just want to know what it’s like out in the archaeological wilds?
Now you can, without leaving the comfort of your chair! Western Michigan University’s Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project is offering free virtual lectures on the Project.
Virtual lectures (using a free software called Skype) will discuss the progress and history of excavation of an eighteenth-century French fort in Niles, Mich. Participants must download this free software and create an account and have access to a webcam, the internet, and a projection area where the lecture may be viewed. The virtual lecture will include PowerPoint presentations, images of authentic artifacts, and face-to-face discussion between participants and students, allowing the public to “enter” the lab where post-fieldwork analysis takes place on a weekly basis.
This virtual lecture program is offered free of charge and can take place in any classroom with a projector and webcam, so no permissions slips are needed (in most cases) for this virtual field trip.
This program is specifically designed to educate students, from grades 3 through 12, about what archaeology is, the history of the French fur trade in the Midwest, and the methods involved in recovering, identifying, and analyzing artifacts and other cultural materials. The program will also consider requests from adult groups interested in learning more about Fort St. Joseph and its importance in our collective heritage. The lectures will be offered on a first come, first served basis, with a variety of time slots and dates available for scheduling the virtual field trip. The program lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Fort St. Joseph is one of the oldest European settlements in the western Great Lakes Region and was occupied by the French, British, Spanish, and Native Americans for nearly a century (1691-1781). After a decade of excavation led by Dr. Michael Nassaney, the FSJAP is expanding its public outreach efforts to future archaeologists through new technologies and software. The FSJAP is a collaborative partnership between Western Michigan University, the City of Niles, the Fort St. Joseph Museum, Support the Fort, and numerous individuals and community groups. It began in 1998 when Dr. Michael Nassaney conducted a preliminary survey, eventually locating the site of the fort, beginning over a decade of excavation and research. FSJ is located in Niles, Michigan, known as the City of Four Flags.
The FSJAP offers a variety of public education and outreach opportunities including our popular summer archaeology camp program for adults, students, and educators, where participants can excavate at the fort site under the supervision of archaeologists for a whole week. Each season the fieldwork culminates in our annual open house that has hosted over 10,000 visitors over the past 5 years in viewing ongoing investigations, informational panels, artifact exhibits, and living history re-enactors who make the eighteenth century come alive. Excavation continues in 2012 as we work to recover the past and reconstruct the history of the French fur trade and the lives of the people of New France.