Sunday, January 10, 2010

Things I didn’t know I needed to know for archaeology

When you first start off  trying to become an archaeologist, you worry a lot about what classes you should take.  Geology?  Anthropology?  Aramaic?  You end up taking classes like “Stone Age Archaeology as Seen Through Fiction” (true story, and it was a great class, oodles of fun) and “Anthropological Theory” (aka One Dead White European Male a Day).  You may even take “Archaeological Field Methods” or some other method and theory class that tells you how older stuff is under newer stuff, but leaves out the bits about double bagging and double tagging, which as a registrar I consider to be Quite Important, Thank You Very Much.

But I find that out in the field you draw on knowledge of all sorts.  Some of which you didn’t know you knew and some things that you knew you knowed (new word, watch for it in Webster’s) but never thought you’d use.

Like changing tires.  Everyone should know how to do this.  Why?  Because if you are digging there are bound to be rocks and where there are rocks there are tire punctures.  Or rakes used to rid your area of rocks are left in roadways turned the wrong way up and there are not only tire punctures but also the sudden loss of rakes.

I am a champion tire changer.  NASCAR could use a person of my skills.  Only NASCAR has nice areas where you park your vehicle and I doubt any pit crew has ever had to move finds bags out of the way to get to the jack.

Fire starting is also a handy skill.  Whether you are trying to clear a site of flesh rending thistles or find yourself in the desert in the winter where it is colder than you recall deserts being, being able to light a successful fire is a welcome skill.  

Being surrounded by other archaeologists that have spent seasons digging in all sorts of places is a learning experience.  Just about everyone has a skill learned on a site that comes in handy.  The amount of baking that has taken place on an open fire… yes, baking.  Apple crumble was successfully made using a large pot, some tuna cans, a baklava tin, and an iron wok.

Soda cans have been sculpted into fantastic light fixtures, furniture has been built, and we may have to write a book for 1001 things you can do with string.

But now you’ll have to excuse me, my fire has been left to smolder and it’s gone all smoky on me.  I wonder if there are any marshmallows left….


  1. Piiiiiiiiictuurrressss pleeeeeeeeeeease!!!

    I am glad you are well. Are you coming 'back' at any point? ;)

  2. Glad to hear from you again! Some of my favorite geology 'courses' were the ones I never had to pay for and never earned credit for - field trips! Invaluable sources of non-geology-related-things-you-never-knew-but-probably-should, wow-this-prof-knows-a-whole-lot-more-out-here and try-to-avoid-the-scary-landowner's-son.

    I agree with BABS - pics please! What are you working on? Can you tell us?

  3. You should go on Survivor. Seriously.

  4. Hi, your blog is amazing. Keep going.
    If you want, you can visit my blog.

    Have a good day :)


Keep it clean, don't be mean....