ECU archeology professor, students to dig at ancient site

Dr. Holly Jones teaches East Central University students archeological flotation techniques in this pre-Covid file photo.

Her first name may not be Indiana, but – just like the beloved Hollywood character – East Central University’s own Dr. Jones always has her sights on new discoveries.

Dr. Holly Jones, a professional archeologist for 25 years, will lead ECU’s first-ever field school early this summer at an undisclosed dig site in Oklahoma. The archeology field school will last three weeks and be good for three credit hours. The course will be limited to 12 students.

Jones, who teaches in ECU’s Native American Studies program, said the site could be home to a Native American earthlodge village as much as 3,000 years old. She hypothesizes the site may be pre-contact Caddoan, meaning it existed in the Caddoan culture before European contact.

“This site, which is on private property, was selected based on previous studies in the area,” Jones said. “However, there hasn’t been any professional archeological work performed there.”

An earthlodge is a partially subterranean structure constructed primarily with earth and timber by Native Americans on the Great Plains. On the Northern Plains, each earthlodge would hold as many as two dozen people and a group built in close proximity constituted a village. Earthlodge villages have been found on the Southern Plains as well, where Oklahoma is now located.

“It’s exciting,” said Jones, who has built her successful career in field archeology across the country, including in areas of historic preservation and cultural resource management. “This work isn’t glamorous; it’s hot, it’s dirty, there are bugs. That’s what it’s really like and students quickly discover whether this is the kind of work for them.”

Jones said the course isn’t just about digging for new discoveries. Students will gain valuable flotation practice on site, as well as have the opportunity to practice archeological lab work such as the cleaning and cataloging of discovered artifacts.

There are no pre-requisites for the course, Jones said. ECU’s Native American Studies program does offer a specialized bachelor’s degree in Cultural Resource Management.

For more information on this rare and unique opportunity, contact Jones at 580-559-5808.

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