SFU: Curaçao: Environmental Archaeology Field School 2020

Curaçao, Central America and Caribbean Past Program Archaeology

Duration of Program:

February 28 - March 11: Mandatory Canvas Program 

March 12: Pre-Departure Orientation 

May 31 - June 23: Study in Curaçao

For the full program itinerary, please click here

Surrounded by the vivid blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, the island of Curaçao has beckoned many to call her home. Today, Curaçao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the first settlers to reach her shores came from South America by canoe 5400 years ago. More recently, Spanish, Dutch and enslaved Africans arrived. Each new group has sought to adapt to and shape the local environment to suit their lifeways. The legacy of these environmental interactions is archived in Curaçao's archaeological and paleoecological records. The Curaçao Cultural Landscape Project (CCLP) examines the dynamics of human-environment relationships preserved in these records, seeking to reconstruct landscape histories over deep time and inform contemporary Caribbean environmental issues. A collaboration of four international partners, we are pursuing long-term, high-resolution records for anthropogenic habitat alteration and biotic change from earliest Amerindian settlement on Curaçao to the modern era.

Field work focuses on pre-Columbian and colonial sites around Jan Thiel Lagoon, where several historic plantations and an important bird conservation area are today found. Here, students will conduct pedestrian and geophysical survey, initiate excavation, map archaeological sites and historic structures, and collect paleoenvironmental samples. Students receive practical training in the methods of environmental archaeology, receiving hands-on experience in the use of ground penetrating radar and magnetic gradiometry equipment, and the analysis of animal remains, soils and sediments. Field instruction is complemented by practical lab experience, lectures, and field trips.

The field school is a research driven project designed to provide students with experiential learning and the opportunity to contribute actively to paleoecological knowledge. CCLP's objectives are grounded in the conviction that knowledge of long-term landscape history is critical for understanding and managing contemporary environmental challenges in the Caribbean.

Students will complete 9 SFU Units for the duration of this Field School. 

ARCH 433-3: Background to Field Work 

ARCH 435-6: Field Work Practicum 

For a full course syllabus, please click here