Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Anthropology has been selected by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine Inc. through the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to continue its field study in Germany at the site of a crash of a World War II airplane. This is the third year that IUP has been involved in the DPAA mission.

The mission of the DPAA is to provide the fullest possible accounting for missing personnel from past conflicts of the United States. 

The project is directed by IUP Department of Anthropology faculty Andrea Palmiotto and William Chadwick. The six-week field study includes three IUP students joining 12 students from other universities across the US, an IUP alumni consulting on ground-penetrating radar, a forensic anthropology consultant from the University of West Florida, and a secondary German teacher from the Chambersburg School District in Pennsylvania who is providing translation services.

The additional students are from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshall College, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Princeton University, Boston University, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, University of Oregon, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Colorado Mesa University.

In summer 2021, Palmiotto, Chadwick, and students conducted a field school near Gifhorn, Germany, at the site of a World War II B-24 plane crash. In 2022, the IUP group excavated a World War II B-17 plane crash near Frankfurt, Germany. This year, the IUP group will be returning to the same site near Frankfurt to continue and expand on their work from the previous year.

“We are honored to be invited to lead this third field school in support of the DPAA mission,” Palmiotto said. “We are very happy to offer students this international applied archaeology experience while contributing to the recovery of US service members,” she said. 

Prior to joining the IUP faculty, Palmiotto was a research fellow and then a forensic anthropologist for the DPAA, working at agency laboratories in Nebraska and Hawaii. She worked on cases related to WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and led archaeological recovery efforts in Vietnam and Laos. In 2022, she attained the highest professional certification through the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is one of two American Board of Forensic Anthropology diplomates currently working in Pennsylvania.

“When I came to IUP, I knew I wanted to maintain that relationship [with DPAA], and I was sure that IUP would be a great fit for a partnership because of the expertise and experience our faculty have,” she said.

Chadwick also brings extensive experience in applied archaeology. He is a registered professional archeologist and licensed geologist who has broad experience in both geoarchaeology and archaeology. Prior to joining the IUP faculty, he worked within the cultural resource management industry as a consultant for over 20 years.

While the students will not be analyzing any materials that they find—that will be done by the DPAA—the field school provides an opportunity for the students to make and properly document the discoveries.

Two of the IUP students are in the Applied Archaeology master’s program and have had previous field experience. This year they are working as crew chiefs for the group, gaining supervisory experience in addition to a different type of fieldwork experience.

IUP’s program, especially the master’s program in Applied Archaeology, continues to get recognition for providing students with practical experiences outside of the classroom, Chadwick said.

“This kind of project is one of the things that makes IUP’s program stand out, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Chadwick said. “We constantly get feedback from employers about how well prepared and trained our graduates are when they enter the workforce. IUP has been recognized as being typically within the top 10 schools each year producing registered professional archaeologists in the nation, and our program is recognized by the American Cultural Resources Association,” he said.

About the IUP Faculty Researchers

William Chadwick

William Chadwick is an archaeological geophysicist, geoarchaeologist, and director of Archaeological Services, housed within the Department of Anthropology. His primary research is on landscape and environmental change related to continuing sea level change on historic and precontact archaeological sites.

Chadwick holds a PhD in geology from the University of Delaware, where he gained extensive training in archeological geology, ground-penetrating radar, quaternary geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and geomorphology. His dissertation, titled “Paleogeographic and Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction of Terrain Associated with Coastal Prehistoric Archaeological Sites, Cape Henlopen, Delaware,” utilized geophysics and intertidal coring to reconstruct the terrains and environments related to the construction of prehistoric shell middens on relict recurved spits in Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.

He has conducted numerous geoarcheological examinations of paleogeographies and paleoenvironments and geophysical surveys related to both historic and precontact archaeological sites and their environs throughout the Middle-Atlantic, Mid-Western, and New England regions. Experiences in geomorphic assessments include surveys within glaciated, coastal, and fluvial systems. Notable geomorphic assessments in fluvial settings include deep testing on floodplains of the Schuylkill River and Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland, and the Wabash River in Indiana, in addition to smaller rivers and streams. Other areas of expertise include geospatial predictive modeling, quantitative and statistical analysis, and the utilization of GPS and GIS in archaeological research. His experience in archaeology includes all phases of excavation related to precontact and historic period sites throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Chadwick’s research interests include archaeological geophysics, intertidal archaeology, and the application of geospatial technology to archaeology.

At IUP, Chadwick teaches courses in World Archaeology, Basic Archaeology, Archaeological Lab Methods, Cultural Resource Management, Laws and Ethics, Archaeological Geophysics, and Geospatial Technologies. He also is an instructor for IUP’s North American six-week field school and advanced field methods course.

Andrea Palmiotto

Andrea Palmiotto is an archaeologist specializing in zooarchaeology and human osteology. Palmiotto earned her MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Florida, where she analyzed faunal materials from pre-Columbian coastal sites in Florida with an emphasis on seasonality and mobility.

Prior to joining IUP, she worked as a forensic anthropologist with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, where she led field recoveries in Laos and Vietnam and analyzed skeletal materials leading to the identification of US casualties from WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. 

Palmiotto has extensive experience in academic and professional contexts and has worked with colleagues to publish in numerous peer-reviewed journals, including recently serving as a guest editor for Forensic Anthropology on a special issue about commingled human remains. Her zooarchaeological research interests include zooarchaeology of the southeastern United States, coastal and island zooarchaeology, bone tool debitage, seasonality, and subsistence; her osteology research interests include past conflict casualty resolution, commingled human remains, perimortem skeletal trauma, and quantification methods.

She is a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Society for American Archaeology, and Southeastern Archaeology Conference. She is currently collaborating with researchers from various institutions, including the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, on a number of different research and field projects.  She also provides service as a forensic anthropology technical assessor for the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

At IUP, Palmiotto currently teaches Contemporary Anthropology, World Archaeology, North American Archaeology, Zooarchaeology, Human Osteology, and Forensic Anthropology. She is the director of the IUP Undergraduate Research Office, responsible for organizing the annual Scholars Forum and Undergraduate Summer Opportunity for Applying Research (U-SOAR), helping undergraduate students to do research in all disciplines.

More about the DPAA

DPAA combined the functions of the former Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, and the Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory. DPAA today is comprised of more than 600 highly skilled and talented civilians and military from each of the services (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force), and includes historians, research analysts, policy experts, anthropologists, archivists, archaeologists, odontologists, linguists, logisticians, communication experts, field operators, material evidence experts, strategists, and planners, as well as numerous additional support personnel. These professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds and specialties are integral to the successful day-to-day operations of this important mission.

Personnel from DPAA, along with other US and foreign specialists, research, investigate, recover, and identify remains of Americans unaccounted for from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Iraq and Persian Gulf wars. DPAA professionals work hand-in-hand with Service Casualty Officials to provide answers to family members on the fate of their loved ones.

The analysis and investigation sections also provide historical analysis to help with the identification of recovered remains. At any given time, there are more than 1,000 active cases under analysis.