Anthropology excavation underway at Fort Boise

Posted at 1:42 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 15:46:41-04

Boise-area residents can catch a glimpse into life in the mid-1800s during an archaeological dig being led by the University of Idaho this month at historic Fort Boise.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology in UI’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences is again partnering with the Boise VA Medical Center and Idaho Archaeological Society on the excavation, which began last Monday.

The excavation -- on the former parade grounds for the Fort -- is expected to run for about three weeks.

“This year’s project continues the University of Idaho’s exploration of Boise’s history through archaeology,” said Mark Warner, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “We are excited to partner with the Boise VA Medical Center to provide a service while, at the same time, offer a hands-on learning opportunity for our students and a chance for the Boise community to see archaeologists in action. This is work for and about the community.”

This is the second project that the University of Idaho has done with the Boise VA Medical Center. The first, in 2014, was also located at the Fort Boise site and included excavating around the surgeon’s quarters.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with the University of Idaho on this project,” said David Wood, director of the Boise VA Medical Center. “As a leader in historical archaeology and after the success of our initial joint dig, they were our first choice for the cultural preservation of the Fort Boise site.”

The student-led excavation provides professional training and real-life experience for five student participants, all of whom are anthropology students at UI and range from undergraduates to doctoral students. 

“It’s really great for people to see archaeology in their own communities,” said Renae Campbell, from Portland, Oregon, who is pursuing a master’s degree in anthropology. “With this dig, people are able to experience archaeology on a local level and see how it relates to their daily life and the environment that they live in.”

The Fort Boise excavation will be the fourth that Warner and University of Idaho students have conducted in the Boise area during the last five years. Previous locations included the River Street neighborhood and the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga house in Boise’s Basque block.

The dig site is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Aug. 5. Guests interested in exploring and experiencing Boise’s local history are encouraged to visit and receive an informal tour of the work being done.

Parking can be limited, so guests are asked to be courteous of veteran patients who need to park to access care.

Volunteers are also welcome to participate. You are urged to call ahead to schedule a time to volunteer.

For additional information on the Fort Boise archaeology project or to sign-up to volunteer, you can contact Mark Warner at 208-885-5954 or 208-892-4501 or