For the second year, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Anthropology has been selected by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine Inc. through the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to conduct a field study in Germany at the site of a crash of a World War II airplane.
The mission of the DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for missing personnel from America’s past conflicts.
IUP Department of Anthropology faculty Andrea Palmiotto and William Chadwick are directing the five-week field school, which began June 27. Six IUP students are part of the field school, joining five other students from other universities across the US and a German teacher from the Chambersburg School District in Pennsylvania who is providing translation services.
In summer 2021, Palmiotto, Chadwick, and 14 IUP students conducted a field school near Gifhorn, Germany, at the site of a World War II plane crash. This summer, the field school is working to discover artifacts at a different World War II plane crash near Frankfurt, Germany. The crash site is very different than the site the group explored in summer 2021; this year’s site is in a nature preserve, with more challenging logistics.
“The DPAA were impressed by our work last summer, especially our expertise with the ground-penetrating radar,” Palmiotto said. “We were very happy to be asked to lead this second field school for the agency.”
Prior to joining the IUP faculty, Palmiotto was a research fellow and then a forensic anthropologist for the DPAA, working at agency laboratories in Nebraska and Hawaii. She worked on cases related to WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and led archaeological recovery efforts in Vietnam and Laos. This year, she attained the highest professional certification through the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is one of two American Board of Forensic Anthropology Diplomates currently working in Pennsylvania.
“When I came to IUP, I knew I wanted to maintain that relationship [with DPAA] and I was sure that IUP would be a great fit for a partnership because of the expertise and experience our faculty have,” she said.
Chadwick also brings extensive experience in applied archaeology. He is a registered professional archeologist and licensed geologist who has broad experience in both geoarchaeology and archaeology. Prior to joining the IUP faculty, he worked within cultural resource management as a consultant for over 17 years.
While the students will not be analyzing any materials that they find—that will be done by the DPAA—the field school provides an opportunity for the students to make and properly document the discoveries. Two of the IUP students are in the Applied Archaeology master’s program and have had previous field experience. This year they are working as “crew chiefs” for the group, gaining supervisory experience in addition to a different type of field work experience.
“We’re really glad that the agency recognized what IUP can offer toward this project,” Palmiotto said. “As much as I enjoy my work at IUP, I am very proud to be a part of the mission of bringing people home to their families and to offer the students this life-changing opportunity that will open all sorts of doors to them,” she said.
“We chose IUP because they bring two highly qualified and experienced leads to the project who completed a successful mission for us last year in Germany and have many years of combined experience between them,” Joshua Toney, Henry Jackson Foundation senior lead archaeologist in support of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, said.
“Dr. Andrea Palmiotto is an experienced and former JPAC/DPAA anthropologist familiar with the DPAA mission, and Dr. William Chadwick is an experienced archaeologist and expert in geophysical survey. His geophysical survey work has helped their team last year, and will this year, to better understand where and how to excavate for maximum results,” he said.
IUP’s program, especially the master’s program in Applied Archaeology, continues to get recognition for providing students with practical experiences outside of the classroom, Chadwick said.
“This kind of project is one of the things that makes IUP’s program stand out, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Chadwick said. “We constantly get feedback from employers about how well prepared and trained our graduates are when they enter the workforce. IUP has been recognized as being typically within the top 10 schools each year producing registered professional archaeologists in the nation.”
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