The public is invited to participate in an archaeological field class next week in an area of northeastern Arkansas City that archaeologists say was part of a 17th-century community of Native Americans.

EtzanoaCowley College social science instructor Meredith Mahoney said June 9 that members of the public who are interested in doing limited field work may join the class for free June 15 or June 16.

“I am going to open things up to the public from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday,” said Mahoney, who will teach an introductory course in archaeology next fall at Cowley.

People interested in joining the group for those limited times are asked to contact Mahoney by email at meredith.mahoney@cowley.edu or by phone at (757) 269-8820.

Last June, she assisted Wichita State University archaeologist and Plains Indian specialist Don Blakeslee with a large-scale archaeological study in areas of eastern Ark City.

Etzanoa is at least the second-largest pre-Columbian settlement  that has been discovered in North America, and possibly the largest, archaeologists agree.

Blakeslee is convinced that Etzanoa, a community of an estimated 20,000 ancestors of the Wichita tribe, lived along the banks of the Walnut River in what is now eastern Ark City from about 1425 to the early 1700s. Spanish explorers visited the site in 1601 and documented their visit a year later.

Mahoney’s short course in the archaeological field is sponsored by the Etzanoa Conservancy. It will take place from June 15 to June 24.

The class meets for the first time at 9 a.m. June 15. Class hours on the other days will be flexible, but likely will be from about 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., she said.

Several students have signed up for the full course, but there is room for some others, Mahoney said.

Students participating in the full course are asked to make an $85 donation to the Etzanoa Conservancy.

People interested in signing up for the full course should contact Mahoney.

The field school will be held in conjunction with further investigations of Etzanoa, to be conducted by Blakeslee, who directed the study here last summer.

“We can accommodate about 12 people,” Mahoney said. “This hands-on, intensive program will include excavation, screening, mapping, remote sensing and other opportunities for research. Students will work alongside students from … Blakeslee’s Wichita State University field school.”

This information was provided by Etzanoa Conservancy board member Foss Farrar.