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WIU students learn how to conduct an excavation at the Horn Field Campus.
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WIU Students Hope to Uncover History This Summer

June 14, 2024

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MACOMB, IL - - Ten Western Illinois University students are digging into their future careers this summer, but to do so they are trying to uncover the past.

Led by Jacob Skousen, WIU assistant professor of Anthropology, ANTH 426 (Archaeological Field Methods), the six-week course is designed to give students an understanding of the archaeological process and field techniques.

"This course gives a hands-on approach to what archaeologists do daily, so if anyone is interested in this field, this course is something they need," Skousen said. "It's a cool course. It's bizarre and different and students like it. Students always come away with a really good experience."

The first week of the course saw students learning the basics of excavating and surveying at the Horn Field Campus. That prepared the students for an expedition to Nauvoo, where students are excavating a store dating back to the 1840s. Skousen said the class is uncovering the foundation of the building, getting an idea of how the store was constructed and they may uncover past contents of the store which will give a better understanding of the past.

"Students get a chance to go out and do surveys, tests, small excavations and sometimes larger excavations on prehistoric or pre-contact (before European contact) sites," Skousen said.

The class is offered every two summers, exploring different locations each session, and Skousen said students stay engaged throughout the summer. Most days they will be out in the field all day walking the site, digging and cleaning up any artifacts found.

"We have a really good group and most of those are serious about getting a job in archaeology," Skousen said. "They've taken to it very well and are very excited."

For more information on WIU's Anthropology program, visit

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Office of University Communications & Marketing