CFCC Students Get First Taste of Archeology at Camp Legeune Dig Site

“It’s not every day you get to dig up history,” said Robert Uehara, president of the Cape Fear Community College Anthropology Club.

Southeastern Archaeological Research Inc. (SEARCH) partnered with archeologists at Camp Lejeune to provide CFCC’s Anthropology Club students with the opportunity to participate in an archeological excavation.

Students from CFCC traveled to Camp Lejeune on October 22 to learn first-hand about the fundamentals of archaeology. Most students only get an opportunity to dig an actual archaeological site in graduate school, yet through the collaboration of SEARCH, the USMC, and anthropology instructor Rachel Satzman, they were able to dig two sites located on the base.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime” said Andrea Cerniglia a first year student at CFCC.

The dominant feature at the historical site where the students excavated was a brick chimney that marked the small wooded clearing as a place containing its own history. To an uneducated eye, this chimney looked like a pile of rubble. However, to the expert archaeologists at SEARCH, this chimney tells the story of the ethnic origins of its creator. SEARCH archeologists explained to the students that because of the way the bricks were constructed and the overall architectural pattern of the chimney we are able to hone in on the probable ethnic origin for the architect of this historic site.

“It is like you are interacting with history,” said student Jacob Dearling, who was most impressed with the bricks that showed visible thumb prints of whoever made them.

While Satzman integrates archeology into her curriculum for Intro to Anthropology she says that the only way students can experience archeology is in the field.

“I remember as a child I was fascinated with archeology. It was not until my upper division classes that I actually got the chance to participate in a dig and after that it was all over. I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My hope was to provide this type of career defining opportunity for my students,” Satzman said.

This is precisely what the students experienced. Jillian Oliver, a first year student at CFCC, had always been interested in archeology but the process of actually doing it was a mystery to her before taking Introduction to Anthropology and going “into the field” with the SEARCH crew.

“I never understood the process of archaeological excavation like I do now. It was hard work but very fun,” Oliver said.

At the end of the day, students were grateful for the opportunity.

“We are so thankful for this opportunity. The vast knowledge of the SEARCH team definitely restated everything we’ve learned in the classroom and the ability to experience it firsthand helped everything fall into place,” said student Robert Uehara.

This is the second year Satzman has partnered with the USMC and SEARCH to provide this unique experience for her students.

“We hope to continue to build this relationship and perhaps integrate internship and volunteer opportunities for students who want to go on and pursue a career in archeology. This is a way for students to make decisions and professional contacts within their chosen career path very early on in their education,” Satzman said.

“It was a very valuable experience for me, as somebody who plans to go into the field of archaeology. It reaffirmed my career decision,” said student Alex Neal.