Program dates for the next program are July 1 - July 23, 2018
*This is not an exchange program*
HSU and NON-HSU students are welcomed to the program - if you are a non-HSU student and have trouble with the application when it opens, please contact Marissa Ramsier (email@example.com).
Excavate skeletons from a Medieval mortuary site, and analyze the remains in an on-site laboratory while exploring Poland’s rich history and landscape.
The Bezlawki Medieval Bioarchaeology Field Program is a summer field program that is an international collaboration between archaeologists and osteologists through Humboldt State University, USA, and the Slavia Foundation and the University of Gdansk in Poland. We are honored to be welcomed by the local community and enjoy public outreach while on site.
This program is a unique opportunity to excavate and analyze human remains from a medieval cemetery in Northeastern Poland. The Bezlawki cemetery captures a time period of transition from Prussian pagan ritual to conversion to Christianity by the Teutonic Knights. One of the main focuses of the program, and the ongoing research project at the site, is to better understand the changes and pressures that conversion placed on the lives of these Medieval Prussians. Over previous field seasons, the site has yielded over 150 skeletons from single and multiple burials. This site is unique in its abundance of juvenile burials, providing an excellent opportunity for real hands-on experience analyzing these remains. It also has an abundance of complex multi-individual burials, which provides training in some of the most complicated burial excavations. As mentioned, this is an active research site, and students participate directly in the research.
This program is an intensive and rewarding experience. Students work side-by-side with archaeologists and osteologists to locate and excavate burials – they learn field methods such as leveling, identifying grave shape, excavation, and mapping. In the lab, students gain skills in human osteology and paleopathology by analyzing remains from the current and previous seasons and producing biological profiles of the individuals. Students also experience Polish culture and history firsthand by interacting with the community, eating delicious local food, and visiting historical sites such as castles and churches, while living in a country that has been a crossroads of central Europe for hundreds of years.
Applications will be evaluated based on the following:
Date of application completion
Years of college coursework completed
Anthropology, archaeology, history, and other related majors will be given priority over students with majors unrelated to the program.
GPA and previous coursework in related subjects.
Potential to succeed in physically and mentally rigorous field conditions.
Maturity and preparedness as demonstrated in letters of recommendation and resume.
Quality and seriousness of application.
No significant incidences of offensive/disruptive behavior, plagiarism, cheating, or felony convictions.
Priority Application deadline (for receipt of all materials): TBA
Students who have completed the application by the priority deadline will have first priority for admissions. Your spot will be held if you pay the deposit on time.
Rolling Application deadline (for receipt of all materials): TBA
Admissions will be rolling basis, in that as soon as your application is complete a decision will be made; once a decision is made, you will have two weeks maximum to make your deposit to hold your spot. Applications may close before this date if the program reaches capacity.
The courses you take for this program will probably be unlike any other courses you have had; most of the learning will take place by doing real ‘hands-on’ bioarchaeological excavation and osteological analysis. You will spend many hours on-site excavating and evaluating historical human remains, and you will be asked to assimilate what you are experiencing through observation, data collection and analysis, writing, reflection, and discussion.
Anth 339: Bioarchaeology
: 3 units, in Poland -- REQUIRED COURSE
This course provides hands-on training in the evaluation of human remains in an archaeological context. Students will excavate human remains and evaluate contextual and demographic information for the site. Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:
Anth 485: International Bioarch Field Preparation. 3 units, online
- Excavate human remains while preserving contextual information,
- Create biological profiles (including sex and age) for historical remains,
- Assess pathological and traumatic features in human remains, and
- Construct demographic information for the skeletal population at the research site.
- See “FIELD” for more detailed information.
This is an optional course for students that would like additional preparation for travel and field work at Bezlawki. Topics include bioarchaeological methods, human osteology & pathology, Polish history, Polish culture, and cultural sensitivity.
Lectures and exercises will be posted online using HSU’s online course delivery platform, Moodle. Information on how to access the material will be provided to students via email after acceptance to the program. There will be about 50 hours of independent work to complete between April and June and an additional ~40 hours of lab work and journal assignments in Poland.
Anth 485 will cover the following topics:
- Skeletal Biology/Pathology: Focuses on recognition and interpretation of skeletal material, with an emphasis on skeletal conditions present from neighboring archaeological sites from similar time periods. You will learn to estimate sex, age and height in human remains and to identify degenerative and pathological changes in bone.
- Archaeological Methods: Focuses on proper archaeological methods, ranging from measurement and documentation to excavation techniques.
- Polish Culture: Focuses on Polish and European History from the 11th Century to present day, with an emphasis on the 14th-16th century history. This module will emphasize the cultural and historical context of the individuals whose remains we will disinter. Modern Polish culture and politics will also be emphasized to aid in our transition to living and working respectfully in another country.
All students are also required to complete pre-departure advising through the HSU Center for International Programs. HSU students must complete this requirement by attending a three-hour Pre-departure Orientation (for information regarding dates and times, see http://humboldt.edu/goabroad/). Non-HSU students should contact the Center for International Programs for information on how to complete this requirement off-campus.
GE and/or Major, Minor Requirements
For HSU Students: ANTH 339 fulfills an upper division biological anthropology core requirement for the anthropology major, and an upper division course for the anthropology minor. ANTH 485 fulfills an upper division seminar requirement for anthropology majors and an upper division course for anthropology minors. For HSU MA Applied Anth graduate students, this program can fulfill the internship requirement. Non-majors and non-HSU students should consult their program advisors for information on how the program might fulfill major requirements.
- All students (HSU and non-HSU) must sign up for Anth 339 (3 units). Students can also enroll in Anth 485 for an additional 3 units of prep work.
- There are no pre-requisites for these courses or the program, but students must complete an application and be accepted onto the program to attend.
- All courses and field instruction will be taught in English.
For the cost of the program see the budget sheet
. Proposed fee will be determined Spring 2018 - please contact faculty with any questions.
Students are advised to not purchase airfare until their acceptance to the program is verified. Students are advised to purchase flight insurance; the program shall not reimburse students for airfare if for any reason the student does not attend the program.
Students may take out any eligible student loan amount that they have not yet used for the academic year. You might want to seek out scholarship and other funding sources to help finance your trip to Poland and also to help build your resume.
Some scholarships of particular interest are:
For past field schools, students have also been successful in organizing fundraising activities.
Preliminary schedule - updated details to be provided by TBA when participants will be emailed course syllabi and information. The arrival and departure times below will remain.
Order or update your passport. Watch prices on flights and purchase as soon as you are able to when you find a good price. You may be able to find a less expensive flight by departing from a major airport (particularly the East Coast), or taking a Ryanair flight within Europe. It is highly recommended to purchase travel insurance in case you need to cancel or change your flight for any reason.
Orientation materials and optional Anth 485 online coursework becomes available. More details TBA.
Students depart for Poland if they have not done so already. Students must arrive in Gdansk (by air at the Gdansk airport, or by train) no later than 9:00 am July 1st. It is highly recommended that you arrive at least a day early to accommodate delays and to travel around Gdansk (early arrival/travel at your own expense). There is a hotel near the airport (Hampton by Hilton) or within the nearby town of Gdansk if you need to arrive early.
End of program. A bus will take all students on the program site to Gdansk. From there, students may either continue independent travel in Europe or fly back to the States. Please plan your departing flight for no earlier than 1:00pm July 23rd.
General Site Information
We will be staying in the countryside village of Wilcowo (next to the Bezlawki site) which lies in North-East Poland, in the Warmia and Mazury province, 35 miles north-east of the regional capital Olsztyn.
The region is famous for its beautiful lakes and sprawling countryside, making it a popular vacationing destination in the summer months. The weather in Bezlawki will be humid, with average high temperature for the month of July around 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
The earliest historical mention of Bezlawki is in 1356 CE. In 1402, a hunting castle was built in the village to accommodate the Teutonic Knights. The castle was converted to a church in 1513 and is still standing today.
Although Poland may adopt the Euro at some point, the official Polish currency is currently the zloty. One US dollar is usually worth about 3 zloty. Most towns and cities in Poland have ATMs, but Bezlawki does not have one so plan to change some money at the Gdansk airport. Credit cards are often accepted in major cities, and Visa is the most widely accepted credit card in Poland. You will be in charge of obtaining, converting, and protecting your cash for incidentals (we suggest that you bring about $200).
At Bezlawki, you will stay in classrooms that have been adapted as dormitories. You will be provided with a sleeping mat, linens and a small pillow. It is suggested that you bring a light blanket or a sleeping bag depending on your preference, and any other items (larger pillow etc) that you may want. There will be approximately six students per room, and males and females will have separate rooms. Males and females will have separate shared bathrooms (toilets), but shower facilities are shared (males and females have separate bathing times). A (small) washer may be available on site, and its use should be kept to a minimum. It is recommended that you bring your own laundry detergent if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to heavy fragrances like those often found in detergent in Poland. Cloths can be hung to dry. The staff will have cell phones for emergencies. A basic computer room and Wi-Fi will likely be available at the school site, however internet access will likely be intermittent and slow. Be prepared for the possibility that you may be without access to the internet for several days at a time.
Meals and Special Nutritional Needs
Meals are served at pre-set times in the morning, afternoon, and evening and will be brought in by an outside caterer. We will eat healthy Polish fare, and vegetarian options are available for all meals. You will also be able to purchase selected snack items at the store next to the school. If you wish to have additional or particular snack items, you should bring these from home Water is drinkable from the tap and is available at all times.
Please note: This program will be physically challenging -- please see below.
Students with disabilities should consult the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) in House 71, (707) 826-4678, and read about the specific housing and field conditions in Poland. Students are encouraged to research the site before applying and to meet with faculty to discuss any accommodations needed for the program. Reasonable accommodations may be available for students who have a documented disability. All accommodations must be approved through the Humboldt State University Student Disability Resource Center.
Student Health, Physical Requirements & Safety
***This program will be physically challenging – please see below. While in Poland, students are required to either excavate or work in the on-site laboratory during the day. Students must also be prepared to perform manual labor for long periods of time. You will be required to excavate/shovel/sift heavy dirt, transport heavy buckets and wheelbarrows of dirt, use shovels/trowels to level ground, climb in and out of pits, stand/stoop/kneel for many hours daily in different weather conditions. The weather can alternate between approximately 55 and 90+ degrees F in the summer and rainstorms may occur. Osteological excavation can be a slow process, and students must often spend long periods of time bent over and excavating. The daily schedule is rigorous and there will be some evening lectures as well. Students will have Sunday off but will be required to work and participate the other six days of the week.
The program participants will live in close quarters and will be required to stay in the dormitory housing provided, with approximately six students per room. Males and females will have separate bathrooms (toilets), but shower facilities are shared (males and females have separate bathing times).
You will also be expected to be awake and ready for the field typically around sunrise. The field activities take place in a rural environment outdoors with the associated flora and fauna (note possible allergens, bees, occasional spiders, etc.). You will not be allowed to leave the site (to go to town for example) without first obtaining permission from the HSU course instructors or TAs and without signing out.
To participate, you should be in good health, and should have a medical examination prior to departure to Poland. You can find information on recommended vaccinations and health precautions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/poland.htm .
Students are responsible for obtaining all immunizations required by the US Public Health Service for Poland as well as the student's medical condition and history. All students will be required to have international medical, accident, and evacuation insurance and must sign the HSU Insurance Agreement and Release prior to leaving for Poland.
Students are advised to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program with the State Department prior to leaving for Poland: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/registration/registration_4789.html
In-Country Medical Facilities
The Bezlawki site has first aid kits that may be used for participants on the program. The facility also has telephone access to contact local medical personnel and a regional hospital, if needed. The regional hospital is five miles away in Ketryzn. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you make sure you have enough prescription medication to last your trip and to keep your medicine in its original prescription bottles.
Inherent to any study or research abroad program is the stress to student participants caused by unfamiliar surroundings, “culture shock” and the intensity of the program. If one student does not act responsibly, is easily distracted, falls behind in their assignments, or is not culturally sensitive, the entire program is negatively affected. Thus, in order to enhance the overall operation of any HSU study and research abroad program, as well as each student’s experience, all participating students should be mature, self-motivated, academically competent and ready to accept the challenges of international study.
The program staff may send home any individual whose conduct, in the opinion of the program staff, is detrimental to the program or to the other students. This includes uncooperative or disruptive behavior, alcohol abuse, illegal drug use, and failure to perform satisfactory academic work. Fees will not be refunded if a student is asked to leave the program early. The avoidance of any illegal drug use, drug purchase, or drug sales cannot be stressed enough. Polish officials inflict severe penalties on foreigners breaking domestic laws, especially illegal drug use. Students are cautioned that a foreign passport and ignorance of local laws will not protect them nor is it likely that anyone from the program or the U. S. Embassy/U. S. Government (or other embassies) be able to provide assistance if they are arrested or convicted for drug use or other crimes.
The field activities take place in a rural farmland environment. Students should not venture off site without an accompanying staff member.
The local area typically does not see a large amount of American tourists. Students must be respectful of local customs at all times. Not all locals will be able to speak English so an English to Polish dictionary is advised.
Visa & Travel Requirements
United States citizens are required to obtain passports for entry into Poland. Students who are not US citizens are responsible to obtain all necessary documents and permission to allow them to participate in the Poland portion of the course. The most authoritative and up-to-date information on Poland entry and exit requirements, including visa information, may be obtained from the consular section of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, 2224 Wyoming Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 234-3800, or the Polish consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York.
The following information was obtained from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, at www.travel.state.gov: ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You may enter Poland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa according to the Schengen Agreement, to which Poland is a party and which allows for free travel between Schengen countries. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. You must have sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet. Although European Union regulations require that non-European Union visitors obtain a stamp in their passport upon initial entry into a Schengen country, many borders are not staffed with officers to carry out this function. If you wish to ensure that your entry is properly documented, you may need to request a stamp at an official point of entry. Under local law, travelers without a stamp in their passport may be questioned and asked to document the length of their stay in Schengen countries at the time of departure or at any point during their visit, and could face possible fines or other repercussions if unable to do so. You should carry proof of sufficient medical insurance in case of an accident or hospitalization while in Poland. Medicare does not cover health costs incurred while abroad. For more information, please see the Medical Information for Americans Abroad website. You should also carry travel insurance to protect you in case your travel arranger or travel supplier becomes insolvent.
Program participants enter the country as tourists (not on student visas).
Independent Travel Policy
Students who wish to travel independently after the program ends will do so independently. During the course, students will not be allowed to travel independently outside of Poland. Those who choose to leave the course before it is complete will be required to sign the ‘Release Early from Program’ documents.
HSU Faculty & Staff
Ariel Gruenthal-Rankin, M.Sc, ABD, HSU Program Co-Director
Lecturer of Anthropology
Research Associate, Biological Anthropology Research Center
Marissa Ramsier, PhD, Program Co-Director
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Director, Biological Anthropology Research Center
Poland Instructors and Program Staff
Marek Polcyn, PhD, Poland Program Coordinator
First Piasts Museum, Poland
Arkadiusz Koperkiewicz, PhD, Poland Site Director, Head Archaeologist
Lecturer, Institute of Archaeology
University of Gdansk, Poland
College of Extended Education and Global Engagement
2nd Floor Student & Business Services Building
Phone: (707) 826-3731
Center for International Programs
Feuerwerker House (House 13)
Tel: (707) 826-4142