Classroom Innovator: Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman

April 8, 2015

Classroom Innovator:Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman

To get to the classroom of Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, you need a vehicle, good directions and some enthusiasm for playing in the dirt. Especially the last part.

Pavao-Zuckerman, an associate professor in the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, oversees the UA’s archaeological field school at Mission Guevavi, on the Santa Cruz River an hour south of Tucson.

The field school, in its third season, combines training in excavation and analysis of material remains from several prehistoric and historical contexts in and around the 18th century Mission Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi, located within Tumacácori National Historic Park.

"It absolutely is a classroom," says Pavao-Zuckerman, who is also associate director of the School of Anthropology, celebrating its centennial this year.

"I love what I do, and I want the students to love what I do," she says. "To me, there’s no greater thrill than telling a big story about the past from tiny bits of bone fragments you find in the ground. That’s what gets me up in the morning."

The field school is part of a collaborative project involving the UA, the National Park Service and Desert Archaeology Inc. Students learn excavation methods, advanced mapping techniques, curation and analysis of artifacts, archaeological interpretation, and archaeological ethics and legal mandates.

"This is practical, hands-on experience," Pavao-Zuckerman says. "You have to be here and put trowel to ground to understand the techniques and the special control and the context.

"You have to test to see if this is something you want to do with the rest of your life."