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Summer Archaeological Field School: Documenting Endangered Architecture in Puerto Rico

Published September 6, 2018

The Department of Art History’s archaeological field school will collaborate with the Universidad de Puerto Rico Río Piedras this summer to document historical architecture and landscapes on the south side of the island endangered by Hurricane Maria and its aftermath.

Under the direction of Professors Paul Niell and Kyle Killian, a team of graduate students in the department’s Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies program will spend six weeks on the island recording historical properties and townscapes.

In addition to traditional methods of recording and archiving data, students will implement the latest technology in photogrammetry (calculating the exact positions of surface points from a series of photographs). Their research will contribute to our knowledge of 18th- and 19th-century Caribbean architecture, generate data and assessments for historical preservation efforts on Puerto Rico, and produce 2- and 3-dimensional graphic models of important threatened structures.

Dr. Niell is a scholar of Spanish Colonial art, architecture and visual culture and the material culture of the African Diaspora in the Caribbean. His publications present revisionist views of the visual cultures of Latin America, from the memorialization of Spanish imperial sovereignty in Cuba to the appropriation of European Gothic style in colonial Latin America. His current book project examines domestic architecture, colonial society, and material culture in nineteenth-century Puerto Rico.

Dr. Killian, who specializes in archaeology, architectural history and cultural heritage studies with a primary focus on the middle ages, directs the Art History Archaeological Field School, which gives students the opportunity to learn the basics of archaeological and architectural recording in the field. Past Field School sites have included the Letchworth-Love and Lake Jackson Mounds Native American sites in North Florida and Mission San Luis, the 17th-century Spanish mission site in Tallahassee.

Mission San Luis, Fine Arts Circle event