Panama - Sitio Drago


Panama’s Caribbean Bocas del Toro Province was assumed to have been settled only 1400 years ago and to have remained isolated throughout its brief prehistory.  Recent research has uncovered much evidence to the contrary.  This project seeks to provide a broader range of information to better evaluate the region’s settlement history and developing social complexity.  To date the Proyecto Arqueológico Sitio Drago has uncovered evidence of a much older settlement history and illustrated evidence of contact with cultures hundreds of kilometers away.  The 2014 field season will focus primarily on excavation and data recovery from a mortuary area in the central part of Sitio Drago.  Previous excavation has uncovered an area adjacent to 5 burials that is rich in artifacts and faunal remains indicative of some sort of ritual feasting activity.  We will continue working in this area and gather data to better understand the nature of the proposed ritual behavior and social structure at the site.  

Panama Sitio Drago Archaeology Field School - Institute for Field Research Field Schools Panama - Sitio Drago18-352014-06-20
Course Dates: Jul 06 - Aug 9 2014
Enrollment Status: CLOSED 
Total Cost: $ 4,650 
Course Type: Field Archaeology
Instructors: Dr. Thomas Wake, Dr. Tomás E. Mendizabal



Thomas Wake

Dr. Thomas Wake

Dr. Wake ( is a Senior Museum Scientist and the Director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.  For more information, click here.
Tomás E. Mendizabal

Dr. Tomás E. Mendizabal

Dr. Mendizabal is a Research Associate at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and the Patronato Panama Viejo. 


“The sitio Drago field school not only allowed me to enjoy the beaches and jungle of the tropical paradise that is Panama but also the cuisine and culture of the Caribbean while doing archaeology. The field school gave me the opportunity to learn survey and excavate an abundance of fascinating artifacts such as shell, bones (human and animal), beautiful ceramics and beads and learn about the people who inhabited the island more than a thousand years ago and how they interacted with the environment.  The pursuit of this knowledge became increasingly relevant as we paralleled the island’s prehistory with a study of the present day people on the island and the breathtaking mystery of the jungle and marine fauna, flora and insects of today. The Sitio Drago field school in Panama encompasses two of the most wonderful experiences a student could ask for: An environment of unparalleled natural beauty for me to enjoy, where I also happened to gain skills that will serve me well in my future academic pursuits. And Tom is probably the most fun and knowledgeable field school director you will ever have the pleasure of working with!”

-Aleksandra van Loggerenberg, UCLA (2009)

“My summer working at Sitio Drago was one of the most unique and intriguing field schools I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of. The setting is beautiful – how many field schools take place on a Caribbean beach? Daily meals are served at a local restaurant on the beach, we have every Saturday off to explore the island and take part in the local nightlife. The archaeology at Sitio Drago is unlike any I’ve seen before – the sheer amount and diversity of artifacts found, as well as their preservation, is astounding. So much is unknown about the indigenous inhabitants of this site that it offers a wealth of present and future research opportunities; this fact alone was one of my primary reasons for working at Sitio Drago and I look forward to continuing research there in future field seasons."

-Kristina Eronat, UCLA (2009)




Student Fees

Early Enrollment Begins November 15 - Full payment must be received by April 1  
(Full Payment = Deposit + Tuition)
 Payment by Cashier or Personal Check Payment by Credit Card/Debit Card
Deposit:500 USD Deposit: 510 USD 
Tuition: 4,150 USD Tuition: 4,240 USD 

Late Enrollment Begins April 2 - Full payment must be received 10 days prior to course start date
(Full Payment = Deposit + Tuition)
 Payment by Cashier or Personal Check Payment by Credit Card/Debit Card
Deposit:500 USD Deposit: 510 USD 
Tuition: 4,250 USD Tuition: 4,340 USD 


Student housing is located in Boca del Drago, Isla Colón. Student housing consists of a large rented vacation house, 50m from a white sand beach and 20m from the main road.  The house contains 2 indoor showers and 4 indoor toilets.  Two outdoor showers are also available.  A maid will clean the bathrooms and public areas of the house once a week.  Students will be responsible for maintaining cleanliness and organization at all times.  A reverse osmosis water filtration system will provide pure drinking water at the student house.    

MEALS:  Project staff and students will eat three meals each day together at Restaurante Yarisnori, on the beach in Boca del Drago.  The restaurant is inspected and approved by Panamanian health authorities and provides filtered, drinkable water.  All meals are prepared fresh by the kitchen staff each day.  Special dietary needs can be adequately addressed as the restaurant has been serving archaeological field schools for the past 10 years.  Vegetarian meals are always available and, with prior warning, gluten-free or allergen-free meals can be prepared.