Molly Trivelpiece ’15 is currently a volunteer supervisor in the underwater archaeology field school of the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) in St. Augustine, Fla.
Participants in the field school are excavating the site of a 1782 shipwreck one mile off the St. Augustine coast. Trivelpiece, who was a student in the field school in 2014, is one of nine volunteer supervisors from the United States, England and Australia in the field school, which continues through June 26. It’s one of only about five or fewer such field schools in the United States, said spokesperson Shannon O’Neil of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, the parent organization of LAMP.
"Last year’s field school was a great learning experience," said Trivelpiece, who holds a degree in anthropology from Longwood. Her preparation for the LAMP program included becoming a certified open-water diver. "I learned how to dredge, which is underwater excavating, in zero-visibility water. Sometimes you can see only one foot in front of your face. I came out confident about my diving. It’s not scary anymore."
Trivelpiece went through the James W. Jordan Archaeological Field School while at Longwood and participated in several projects. The field school in 2015 became one of the fewer than 10 percent of field schools in the world to be certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists. Founded in 1980, the field school is one of the 17 RPA-certified field schools, and the only one in Virginia, among the 189 listed field schools worldwide.
As a LAMP supervisor, Trivelpiece will be paired one-on-one with a student, on a rotating basis, when they excavate daily at the site. The five students in this year’s program did training the first week, then will start diving at the site on June 8.
The LAMP field school began in 2007 and has excavated since 2010 at the site of a British ship carrying Loyalists who were fleeing Charleston, S.C. Artifacts that have been brought up and are being conserved include cannons, muskets and cauldrons. The accredited program provides methodological training and academic lectures to give students valuable real-world experience in all aspects of archaeological fieldwork, scientific diving and laboratory analysis.
Trivelpiece, who plans to pursue a career in underwater archaeology, learned of the field school from Cassie Shiflett ’13, who did an internship with LAMP in summer 2012 and was a field school student in 2013. Trivelpiece applied after speaking with Dr. Brian Bates ’92, associate professor of anthropology, and Brendan Burke ’03, LAMP archaeologist and logistics coordinator.
Later this year, Trivelpiece will take part in a two-month maritime archaeology internship in the "Queen Anne’s Revenge" project in Beaufort Inlet, N.C., involving the pirate Blackbeard’s last flagship. The internship, from the first week in September through the first week in November, is coordinated by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.