Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Anthropology faculty has been selected by the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, through the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine Inc., to continue its field study near Frankfurt, Germany, at the site of a crash of a World War II B-17 airplane.

The project is directed by anthropology faculty members Andrea Palmiotto and William Chadwick.

This is the fourth year that IUP has received funding from the DPAA and HJF for study at a World War II airplane crash site.

In summer 2021, Palmiotto and Chadwick led IUP students at a field school near Gifhorn, Germany, at the site of a World War II B-24 plane crash. They began work at the crash site near Frankfurt in 2022 and returned to the site in summer 2023. In 2024, they will continue and expand their work from the previous years.

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

This year’s six-week field study includes four IUP students joining 12 students from other universities across the US and a secondary German teacher from the Chambersburg School District in Pennsylvania who is providing translation services.

The additional students are from Penn West University; University of Pittsburgh; University of Illinois, Chicago; Purdue University; James Madison University; California State University, Northridge; University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Virginia Commonwealth University; and Southern New Hampshire University.

“It’s been an incredible experience and an honor to continue this important work 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.

Palmiotto holds 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. In addition to her work with DPAA and HJF, she provides consultation on unknown skeletal cases for law enforcement professionals and medicolegal specialists in Western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas.

Prior to joining the IUP faculty, she 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.

“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 professional 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.

“This field school is an amazing opportunity to not only travel but to work with great programs such as the DPAA,” said Dakota Dickerson, a second-year master’s student in IUP’s applied archaeology.

Dickerson has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the State University of New York, Potsdam in archaeology and done a number of hands-on experiences, including completing a historical field school on a Civil War encampment site in northern New York state and assisting in a Revolutionary War cemetery excavation with the New York State Museum. She has also worked as a special education teacher.

“This project allows me to apply archaeological skills, including communication with the public, in an applied manner while participating in something amazing. I am interested in continuing my studies as a forensic anthropologist, and by participating in this field school I will be better equipped to do just that. 

“Not only will I add to my supervisory experience helping students learn in the field, but I will also be learning how these type of recovery projects work and even develop a working relationship with the DPAA. I am truly honored to be with this group for the 2024 field school,” Dickerson said.

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.

More About the IUP Faculty Researchers

William Chadwick

William Chadwick

William Chadwick is an archaeological geophysicist, geoarchaeologist, and director of the Archaeological Services Center, 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. Other activities while at IUP includes providing consultation with law enforcement crime cases using ground penetrating radar.

At IUP, Chadwick teaches courses in World Archaeology, Basic Archaeology, Archaeological Lab Methods, Archaeology of Coasts Cultural Resource Management, Laws and Ethics, Archaeological Geophysics, and Applied Spatial Methods in Archaeology. He also is an instructor for IUP’s North American six-week field school and Advanced Field Methods course.

Andrea Palmiotto

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, designed to help undergraduate students do research in all disciplines.

In spring 2024, she received a post-PhD research grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a private foundation and dedicated leader in anthropological research, guided by its mission to advance anthropological knowledge, build sustainable careers, and amplify the impact of anthropology within the wider world. She is working with a team of collaborators to explore social prescriptions and communal learning in the production of ancient bone tools on the South Carolina coast between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago

More about the DPAA

Seal of the DPAA The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency 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 our services (Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force) and include 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 their 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. When recovery operations are unsuccessful, 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, more than 1,000 active cases are under analysis.