After one intro archaeology course her first year at Hamilton, Petra Elfström ’18 was hooked, soon signing up for Hamilton’s six-week summer archaeology field school course at the Slocan Narrows Pithouse Village in British Columbia.
Students in the course work with professors to learn field methods as they excavate the dwellings in a village where the Sinixt indigenous people lived for some 3,100 years. Working with Associate Professor of Anthropology Nathan Goodale, Elfström’s field-course group looked at how to excavate the site and answers research questions about it.
Majors: Archaeology and Creative Writing
Hometown: East Haddam, Conn.
High School: The Williams School
To her delight, as a rising senior she was hired to work at the Pithouse Village as a teaching assistant, showing students new to archaeology how to conduct an excavation. “I felt pretty insanely lucky to be able to go back, and this time be even more invested in the work being done,” says Elfström, who majors in archaeology and creative writing.
For her senior project, in collaboration with Goodale, she’s looking at household organization in the village. For that she’s using the geoarchaeological method of collecting and analyzing sediments from inside the houses. “That will basically give us a map of what was happening,” she says. The sediments can, for instance, allow researchers to determine where poles once stood to support a roof, or where a hearth was located or stone tools were made.
She says the pithouse research experience will help her when she applies to archaeology graduate programs. And so will being listed as an author when the geochemical project she’s doing with Goodale is published, which Elfström expects will happen soon.