Campus Archaeology Project Invites Students, Community to Learn About UI History

Thursday, July 24 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – July 23, 2014 – A group of University of Idaho students and community volunteers will discover some of campus’ hidden history over the next three weeks during the UI Campus Archaeology Project.

The students – primarily from UI’s sociology/anthropology and history departments – are conducting an archaeological excavation at the site of the future Integrated Research and Innovation Center on Line Street north of the Idaho Commons. There they hope to find the remains of everyday life left behind from the homes, dormitories and campus buildings that have been located on or near the site.

“We don’t know exactly what we’re going to find right now,” said Mark Warner, chair of the UI Department of Sociology and Anthropology, who is supervising the dig. “If we’re lucky, we’ve got the vestiges of everyday life in early Moscow.”

The site is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday until the dig wraps up around Aug. 15. Students will provide informal tours to teach visitors about archaeology, the site and artifacts they find.

Members of the public and campus community are also welcome to work with the project. To volunteer, contact Warner at 

“It’s a great opportunity for students to learn about archaeology on their campus, and for campus itself to become a teaching tool,” Warner said.

A few non-university homes were located on the site as early as 1910. Brink and Phinney halls, which served for decades as men’s dorms, are adjacent to the site. Most recently, the Navy/ROTC Building, which was built in 1942 and burned down in 2011, stood on the edge of the site.

Abram Grisham, a master’s student in anthropology and a field director for the project, said he’s excited to teach students and the public about Idaho and UI history. The university is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

“I think the university has a rich heritage, and to be able to go back prior to the school and see the heritage of the community is primarily why I was interested in this,” Grisham said. “The reason archaeology is important is because it ties the past and the people who did things in the past with us.”

The project also serves as a real-world educational opportunity for students, who are earning credit or fieldwork experience, said Molly Swords, a doctoral student in historical archaeology and project manager and lab director for the dig. Many professional archaeologists work at construction sites to discover what’s beneath the ground before a new building is in place.

The Campus Archaeology Project is supported by the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, UI Architectural and Engineering Services, Hoffman Construction and Motley-Motley, Inc.


Tara Roberts
UI Communications and Marketing
(208) 885-7725

Mark Warner
UI Department of Sociology and Anthropology
(208) 885-5954
(208) 892-4501 

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