Field Research Opportunities

Ethnoarchaeology on Old Providence and Santa Catalina Islands, Colombia – 2024 Summer Field School

2024 Summer Field School Poster

In 1883, Robert Luis Stephenson published Treasure Island, a book about pirate adventures and hidden treasure, which was inspired by the author’s visit to Old Providence and Santa Catalina Islands because they were home to the infamous privateer Henry Morgan and his crew in 1666.

The Islands, located 130 miles of the coast of Nicaragua and around 8.5 square miles in size, have been a center of global trade and military action between the English, Spanish, and pirates since 1629, when the Islands were first settled by English Puritan colonists. The Islands are still occupied by the descendants of the English Puritan colonists, enslaved Africans, and self-emancipated Africans, who established a free-colony on the southside of Old Providence in the 1600s; and who now identify collectively as Raizal.

Although the seduction of pirate treasure is alluring, the real treasure of these Islands is the history of the Raizal and their unique culture. Of particular importance, is how the Raizal utilized the natural environment to survive…to make shelter, to produce food, and to secretly move around the islands freely during the colonial era when many of the inhabitants were slaves in the colonial system and movement was largely controlled by colonial masters.


During summer field research on the Islands, students will have the opportunity to 1) participate in archaeological excavations and ethnographic interviews focused on life on the Islands, over time, and documenting the unique English Criol language spoken in the San Andrés Archipelago, 2) perform various types of survey (conductivity/magnetic susceptibility, GPS, metal detecting, shovel test pits, and surface collection, and 3) learn about processing materials from the field to storage to the final report.

In their downtime and days off, students can enjoy the many things Old Providence and Santa Catalina have to offer…from SCUBA and snorkeling or relaxing on the beach, to horseback riding and hiking, to shopping or having a coffee and dessert in-town.

USC student funding is available through SURF & SHURE

For more information please visit IFR Global