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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Professor keeps students digging for Chumash artifacts

Sitting under white tents, digging and taking measurements, a group of dedicated students take part in an archaeological dig looking for artifacts 400 to 600 years old.


This opportunity for students interested in doing field archaeology work is presented to student annually by professor Noble Eisenlauer.


Emma Nemitz, a 21-year-old Sign Language major, is passionate about the class even though archaeology is not her major.


“This is a good opportunity to apply what I was learning in textbooks to real life,” she said. “I can touch it, I can see it, I can experience it and it’s not a textbook.”


Marielle Stober, screen writing major, has the same passion for archaeology, though not in the major.


“I love archaeology,” she said. “My sister recommended Dr. E, and I’ve taken every anthropology class with him. [My family] is really passionate about archaeology and natives.”


Enduring troubles with location and funding, Dr. Eisenlauer has prevailed, turning his field class into a student volunteer class to preserve it.


He worked with a nearby school, trading an archaeology class for a section of land to dig in with his students.


Pierce is one of few if not the only two year school to have an actual field archaeology class, Eisenlauer said.


In Eisenlauer’s class, students can learn the basic and mandatory knowledge of archaeological field work while actually being in the field and experiencing things first hand.


In a sense, the students participating are interns.


Heather Myhan, a 38-year-old student, is in the class for the knowledge.


“You get hands-on training with Dr. E. doing the basic things you are going to need to do in field school, and you become able to recognize artifacts,” Myhan said.


Lina Ramirez, a 22-year-old anthropology major, has wanted to do this since she was a kid.


“Ever since I saw Indiana Jones I just wanted to get in there and do something,” Ramirez said. “Learning what to look for, identifying flakes and just the experience is pretty awesome.”


Pierce is also the only college in the district to have a total station, which is a laser mapping device that maps the site onto a computer exchange. according to Eisenlauer.


Professor Eisenlauer knows how great the experience is for students who want to pursue an archaeology or anthropology major.


“It’s exciting for students and it’s good training for them,” Eisenlauer said.


It is for this reason that he worked to keep the field archaeology class alive, and why he spends his own money on tools and gas to drive to the location every Friday.


“If I didn’t love archaeology I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

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