BAJR Federation Archaeology

Full Version: Crumbling Old Ruins*
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Has anyone else noticed an increase in the average age of people working on site recently? It used to be that I'd be among the oldest, with the possible exception of the statutory couple of 'old lags' that are present in every site hut, but recently I've noticed that there seem to be far fewer recent graduates and far more 40- or 50-somethings among any group of new starts. I've spoken to a couple of people at other companies who've said the same thing - far fewer people wanting to work in field archaeology straight from university, far more returning to archaeology after working in some other sector, either because they want a change of career or because they've lost their 'proper' job. I was wondering whether this was a widespread trend, or localised to one particular area, and if it's a general thing, what the implications are for field staff? The most obvious thing I'd say is that it may result in better pay and conditions, as without the regular supply of fresh graduates every year, diggers may find their skills more valued, with companies keen to hold on to good people. An influx of staff with knowledge of other sectors may also improve conditions, as people with a broader life experience are perhaps less likely to put up with exploitative practises than recent graduates with no experience outside archaeology.

*Before anyone accuses me of ageism, I would like to make it clear that the title of the thread is intended as a joke
Its all ageist. Look up age wave or middlescence and then ask why we dont put up the age of retirement by ten years to pay for free higher education.
Ageing, zimmer-framed experience or youthful, skate-boarding inexperience?...That is the Question...:face-thinks:
Being of the none recent graduate category and the returning to archaeology one as well I have a disctinct feeling that the current age "trend" is based on those with any get up and go do just that and those who hang on for grim death in the hope of something better are the ones still there, irrespective of age, year after year suffering the terrible conditions.

and..."diggers may find their skills more valued, with companies keen to hold on to good people"...well, I'd like to think so but after my year of experiences I rather think I'll be part of the get up and go brigade!! I would laugh if it wasn't so disapponting and sadRolleyes
I wish I could find something I could get up and go to. My old profession is in a worse state than archaeology. I wonder if the more mature archaeologists are those who are no longer supporting families and have partners in professions that bring in enough to enable them to support an archaeologist.
I'd be happy to start a 40+ BAJR self-interest group so that we can exchange memories of the good old late 80s, getting beer for less than a fiver a pint, poultice recipes to relieve pain in places that younger folk dont even have places and encouraging talk about the days when education was (almost) free...
kevin wooldridge Wrote:I'd be happy to start a 40+ BAJR self-interest group so that we can exchange memories of the good old late 80s, getting beer for less than a fiver a pint, poultice recipes to relieve pain in places that younger folk dont even have places and encouraging talk about the days when education was (almost) free...

I'm in!!!!Big Grin:face-approve:
deadlylampshade Wrote:Being of the none recent graduate category and the returning to archaeology one as well I have a disctinct feeling that the current age "trend" is based on those with any get up and go do just that and those who hang on for grim death in the hope of something better are the ones still there, irrespective of age, year after year suffering the terrible conditions.

and..."diggers may find their skills more valued, with companies keen to hold on to good people"...well, I'd like to think so but after my year of experiences I rather think I'll be part of the get up and go brigade!! I would laugh if it wasn't so disapponting and sadRolleyes

As someone who's worked in archaeology for the last 15 years, I'd obviously not agree with the suggestion that the only reason I still do so is because I lack the necessary 'get up and go' to do anything else, rather than it being something I still generally enjoy, and that I think I'm good at!

I think that a lot of people go into archaeology with unrealistic expectations - as has been noted before, some people assume that they'll be running their own sites straight off the bat, rather than accepting that they'll start out as one member of the team and may have to put in several years before they'll be in charge of an excavation. I think that this sort of attitude can apply regardless of the age of the person, and indeed, it can be more pronounced among people who come to commercial archaeology later in life, or who have previously held high-powered positions in an unrelated sector - I've certainly experienced people who seemed unwilling to accept that they needed to start at the bottom and would be working under the direction of someone younger who happened to have been working in archaeology for longer. While outside experience can obviously be very useful in terms of bringing different ideas about how things can be done, it would be unrealistic for someone to expect to be put in charge of a site simply because they'd previously managed an IT team (or something). While they would have experience of management, they probably wouldn't yet have sufficient archaeological experience to run a site.

I think it's good to have a range of different ages and levels of experience on a site, but I think that those that stick at it tend to be those who go into commercial archaeology with their eyes open to the realities of the sector, regardless of the age at which they start.
kevin wooldridge Wrote:I'd be happy to start a 40+ BAJR self-interest group so that we can exchange memories of the good old late 80s, getting beer for less than a fiver a pint, poultice recipes to relieve pain in places that younger folk dont even have places and encouraging talk about the days when education was (almost) free...


Can we include the late 70s/early 80s? - personally I enjoyed those more Cool(and had more hair then, although not certain that's relevent?)

I've been complaining to the management for years that I keep getting workforces who are all older than me, and I'm definitely straining the credibility of '40-something' Sad

Think the claim that older diggers are more likely to press for better conditions doesn't wash - after all we're the generation who used to have to spend 6 months at a time living out of a mouldy tent and surviving on 'subsistence', so from our point of view we already have hugely improved conditions right now? Surely it's the youngsters who've never had to survive any of that who have the inflated expectations from the digging profession? :face-stir:
I have no problem including the late 70s, but you realise that now puts you into your 5th decade as a digger, never mind how many you have survived in other human forms....!!
i
One of the interesting aspects of this thread is that maybe the 'classic' image of archaeologists giving up field work sometime in their 30s because of bodily disfunction or the 'call of the office' isn't as true as it once was or maybe it was never true. We need Paul to do another 'invisible diggers' investigation as to where the aged and hoary archaeologist hides themself away and why they are suddenly being noticed now.......
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