Gateway student spends summer in Zambia with the Rice Archaeological Field School

Sunee Quirante with other Field School participants

Digging in a mound filled with centuries of history; exploring the diverse landscapes of a remote village; meeting incredible people and learning from their life stories: these were just a few of the things I was able to do this summer through the Rice Archaeological Field School, where I spent five weeks in the Zambian village of Basanga. Directed by Dr. Fleisher of the Anthropology Department, the field school is an incredible opportunity for Rice undergraduates to gain archaeological field experience by doing hands on research. This year, the research revolved around questions of first and second millennium AD Bantu mobility. We were focused specifically on how data from multiple fields (i.e. archaeology, historical linguistics, geochemistry, ethnography) can be integrated to answer questions about how people moved through and used the ancient landscape. The interdisciplinary aspect of the project was why my four classmates and I were able to participate in such a wide array of research activities. Some of these activities included participating in sacred healing ceremonies, excavating 800-year-old shell beads, and finding and processing thousands of sherds of locally made pots. The field school was a transformative experience that allowed me to not only learn about archaeology but also helped me discover my own personal research interests and develop a sense of how I want to proceed with the rest of my academic career. I know that the same can be said for my peers as well, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this program!