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Skidmore College
Off-Campus Study & Exchanges

Experiencing the Archaeology of the American Southwest

A domestic travel course exploring archaeology and environments of the American Southwest (New Mexico and Arizona).  Activities will include travel to cultural sites of prehistoric Native American groups including the Mimbres Mogollon, Hohokam, and Ancestral Puebloans and museums that exhibit cultural materials from ancient through modern times.  Students will explore architectural features, preservation issues, and environmental adaptations at archaeological sites.  The excellent preservation of much of the Southwest architecture is unique for North American archaeology and seeing it in person offers students an opportunity toChaco Canyon experience the actual spaces created by past people.  Additionally, this course will explore a wide variety of arid ecosystems across the American Southwest.  The travel through desert and mountain terrains will demonstrate how adaptability in the past was vital to survival of ancient people and had great impacts on their cultural materials.  Finally, a trip to a Pueblo community will be a venue for examining issues affecting modern Native Americans.

Students in this course will experience life in the ancient Southwest through exploration of archaeological sites and museums.  Most days of the course will include hikes and tours of different ecosystems to observe archaeological structures and materials.  Students will keep daily reflective journals of their observations and experiences and contribute to a course social media photo journal.  Assignments will also include a group/pair presentation on a topic pertaining to Southwest archaeology and a culminating reflection paper.  Finally, students will take part in an active learning experience in a Pueblo community, where they will engage with local individuals.

Learning Goals

Through this travel seminar, students will:

  • identify culture groups occupying the prehistoric American Southwest from 10,000 years ago to 500 years ago;
  • explore material culture for Ancestral Puebloan, Mogollon, and Hohokam groups;
  • understand the origins of agriculture and subsequent shifts in behavior;
  • identify and understand environmental variation and adaptation to arid ecosystems;
  • debate arguments/reconstructions of ritual, violence, identity, and regional abandonment; 
  • engage in discussions of ethical issues facing archaeological work and Indigenous communities in the region; and
  • interact with Native American communities to recognize current issues affecting.

Sample Itinerary*

Day 1: Fly to Albuquerque and orientation

Day 2: Museum visit and drive to Silver City

Day 3: City of Rocks, Elk Ridge & Three Circle

Day 4: Western New Mexico University Museum, Gila Cliff Dwellings

Day 5: Drive to Globe, AZ; Besh Ba Gowah; Casa Grande National Monument, Drive to Phoenix, AZ

Day 6: Pueblo Grande, Petrified Forest National Park

Day 7: Chaco Canyon

Day 8: Drive to Sante Fe; community project; Belen excavation

Day 9:  Community Project; drive to Albuquerque, Maxwell Museum

Day 10: Fly from Albuquerque

*subject to change


DatesMay 30 - June 8, 2022

CorequisiteStudents will enroll in AN 208 (Archaeology of the American Southwest) for the spring 2022 semester. 

Credits3 credit for AN 208 and 1 credit for TX200A. 

Program Fee: The anticipated fee will be between $2,500 and $2,900 depending on enrollment. The program fee includes Skidmore tuition; round-trip airfare between Albany (or NYC) and Albuquerque (or equivalent); ground transportation for program excursions; on-site accommodations in shared rooms; some meals; entrance fees; excursions and activities, and Skidmore faculty. Financial aid is available for eligible students. 

Meals and Accommodation: Students will stay in double rooms in local hotels. Some group meals are included and students will receive a meal stipend for additional meals.

Flights: Roundtrip airfare from Albany (or NYC) to Albuquerque is included in the program fee. Students are required to make their own way to/from New York City or Albany. 

Application Process: The deadline for applications is October 15, 2021. Students are required to apply for Travel Seminars through the MyOCSE portal and applications will be available in spring 2021.  Applications will be reviewed and students will be notified of acceptances before fall 2021 course registration. Students will then be required to register for SO 215 for the spring 2021 semester.

Class of 2022 Students: Seniors are welcome to participate in any of our spring or summer travel seminars. For the Southwest travel seminar, students will be reclassified as August graduates as the credits will still be in progress during commencement. Don't worry, you'll still be able to walk on graduation day!


Stop by the OCSE office (Starbuck 202) or contact Professor Kathryn Baustian ( directly.