Paper No. 305-10
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM
GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL AND GEOMORPHIC GROUND PENETRATING RADAR INVESTIGATIONS IN LITHUANIA: HIGH IMPACT UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH EXPERIENCES - UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-EAU CLAIRE’S INTERNATIONAL FELLOWS PROGRAM
Undergraduate students actively participated in an intensive geoarchaeological and geomorphic field research projects in Lithuania. Project logistics were funded by the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s International Fellows Program (IFP) for Research, Service, and Creative Activity grant. This unique program capitalizes on the strength and success of high impact academic experiences for undergraduates and has won the prestigious Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education. The presentation will outline details and results of the 2016 project in Lithuania which investigated numerous sites. In Vilnius, we were part of a larger team that actively excavated 2 archaeological grids at the Great Synagogue of Vilnius. The synagogue was destroyed after WWII, leveled and an elementary school was built on top. The location for the excavations were based on results from ground penetrating radar (GPR) datasets collected in 2015. Further GPR grid datasets were collected around the 2016 excavations. The 2nd site, Ponar Extermination Camp, on the outskirts of Vilnius was a very sensitive and tragic site to investigate. During 1941 – 1944, over 100,000 people had been killed and later burned at the site. The site is one of many WWII extermination sites in Lithuania. As GPR is a non-invasive geophysical tool we were able to collect grid datasets without disturbing the present day landscape. We were asked to image the subsurface and to aid in locating archaeological features including a processing trench, a prisoner escape tunnel and a previously unlocated burial pit. Due to the significance of the site, the project received worldwide press coverage. Our remaining sites in western Lithuania utilized GPR to locate former lake shorelines that are now buried below peat bogs. These mapped shorelines will help archaeologists more precisely target excavations for Neolithic sites in the near future. The IFP program at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire demonstrates that undergraduate students can successfully carry out an international research program as well as provides a transformative learning experience.