Bezławki - Field School


Wersja Polska • English Version

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Application Link (We are currently hoping to run the program in 2022, pandemic pending. More info TBA)

The Medieval Bioarchaeology Field Program in Bezławki, Poland is a Summer field school run jointly through Humboldt State University and the Slavia Foundation. It is a unique opportunity to excavate and analyze human remains from a medieval cemetery at Bezlawki. Prussian burial sites are rare to find intact, and so a main goal of this project is analyze burial practices and osteological remains to illuminate the unique features of Prussian life and death. This site is also unique in its abundance of juvenile burials, providing an excellent opportunity for real hands-on experience analyzing these remains. This is an active research site, and students participate directly in the research.

This program is an intensive and rewarding experience. Students work side-by-side with archaeologist and osteologists to locate and excavate burials – they learn field methods such as leveling, revealing grave shape, excavation, and mapping. In the lab, students gain skills in human osteology and pathology by analyzing remains from the current and previous seasons and producing biological profiles of the individuals. Students also experience Polish culture and history firsthand by interacting with the community and visiting historical sites such as castles and churches, while living in a country that has been a crossroads of central Europe for hundreds of years.

Student looking through scope at Bezlawki


All field school participants will get credit for the following course (taken during the program, dates TBA):

  • ANTH 339, Bioarchaeology at Bezławki, Poland (3 units)

We also offer three additional (optional) courses. These courses consist of independent work prior to and in Poland (starting TBA), and additional lab/fieldwork and analysis of information during and/or after Poland.

  • ANTH 359, Bioarchaeology Field Methods (1 unit)
  • ANTH 485, Trauma and Paleopathology (1 unit)
  • ANTH 485, Polish Culture: Medieval to Modern (1 unit)

Students mapping at Bezlawki  Student excavating at Bezlawki  
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Dates (tentative) We are currently on pause for Summer 2021 due to COVID - we hope to be back up and running in 2022

  • Field School 2022 will be for approximately 23 days from late June / early July to mid-late July, 2022, as long as the pandemic is under control and travel is permitted and safe. Below are the preliminary travel dates - final dates may differ by a few days and will be updated as they are confirmed, likely in early Spring:
  • TBA: Recommended arrival in Poland. At least one full day ahead is recommended - many students opt to arrive a few days ahead and explore the surrounding area.
  • TBA: Bus picks students up in Gdasnk Poland (typically at the Hampton by Hilton Hotel, near Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport - GDN) in the morning, typically around 9:00am. Students should plan arrival/travel to arrive in Poland prior to this date.
  • TBA-TBA: Field and lab work at Bezlawki, and travel to nearby areas
  • TBA: Bus returns students to Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport (GDN). Students should plan arrival/travel to not leave Gdasnk prior to TBA.

Location / Site Information

  • The field school takes place in the beautiful countryside village of Bezławki in North-East Poland, in the Warmia and Mazury province, 35 miles NE of the regional capital Olsztyn. The earliest historical mention of Bezławki is in 1356 CE. In 1402, a hunting castle was built in the village to accommodate the Teutonic Knights. The castle was converted to a church in 1513 and still stands today. The region is famous for its beautiful lakes and sprawling countryside, making it a popular vacationing destination in the summer months.
  • At Bezławki, students stay in classrooms (at a local school) that have been adapted as dormitories. There are restroom and shower facilities. Cell phone reception at the school is generally good. There may be intermittent internet/Wi-Fi.
  • Meals are served at in the morning, afternoon, and evening. We will eat healthy Polish fare, and vegetarian options are available for all meals. There is also a small corner store with some snacks. Water is drinkable from the tap.
  • During the program, we usually tour all cities in the immediate area (Reszel, Święta Lipka, Kętrzyn), with at least one longer trip, often including attending the reenactment of the Battle of Grunwald


  • Program fee (preliminary): $3,195. This fee covers in-Poland travel during the program (e.g., from Gdansk to the site and back, touring during the program), lodging at the site, and meals during the program.
  • Tuition (preliminary): $220 per unit. Three units (ANTH 339) required, three additional units (ANTH 329, 359, 485) optional
  • International health insurance (preliminary): $85 - students enroll in a CSU-wide provider
  • Travel to and from Poland: Varies: Students are responsible for their own travel to and from Gdansk, Poland. Cost varies depending on time of purchase and travel choices. Flights are generally least expensive if purchased in advance and if flying from a major airport (e.g., SFO). Flying form the East Coast is generally less expensive. Some students choose to fly to another location in Europe and take a train to Gdansk .

Qualifications/Application to Attend

  • An application is required. Please see the Program Application Page for details.
  • Do you want to let us know you are interested in attending? Link to interest form
  • There are no required prerequisite coursework ior major for this program. Students with any major/background may attend if in good academic standing. This program is open to non-HSU students.

Contact Information

Interested students are encouarged to contact us if you have any questions - we are happy to help!

Ariel Gruenthal-Rankin, PhD
HSU Program Director, Osteology Lab
Department of Anthropology, Humboldt State University

Marissa Ramsier, PhD
HSU Program Director, Osteology Lab
Department of Anthropology, Humboldt State University

Katherine Gaddis, MA, HSU Program Faculty, Osteology Lab
Department of Anthropology, Humboldt State University

Jenna Nelson, HSU Program Faculty, Osteology Lab
Department of Anthropology, Humboldt State University