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Thread: Finds Officer - what do I need to get my foot in the door?!

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    Junior BAJRite Djelibeybi's Avatar
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    Question Finds Officer - what do I need to get my foot in the door?!

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    Greetings!

    I'm new to this Forum and was invited to join to pose this question. To date I've been unable to locate information regarding required qualifications, essential or favourable skill sets or experience, and whether it is best to specialise in a particular material or period or to have a more broad-based knowledge when aiming at a career as a Finds Officer.

    It has been suggested that I speak with my local FLO and PAS to see if there are any expertise gaps here in Sheffield (as I'm disabled and don't intend moving) with existing Finds Officers, but does anyone else out there have anything constructive to contribute?

    All suggestions very gratefully received!

    xxx

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    Most finds officers in archaeological units started by finds washing or being an assisstant finds/archive officer to the person they sooner or later replace. In my experiece through several units, the actual Finds Officer is promoted from an existing member of staff, either already in the finds room or from the field team, as they have an existing knowledge of the procedures for that company, which is very useful for the position. Having a finds specialism if desirable but not essential, bear in mind you'll see more pottery and bone than coins and small finds. Useful knowledge for the role includes an understanding of processing and basic conservation techniques (i.e. what is necessary and when). what is vitally important is an understanding of archiving and the conventions that govern it, as this will often form the bulk of day to day work, with much of the remainder formulating finds concordances to go to project officers/specialists. Finally some knowledge of environmental processing, wet sieving etc is often very handy.

    I hope this helps

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    Junior BAJRite Djelibeybi's Avatar
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    That is indeed very helpful, Gonetopot. Nowhere have I found anything indicating that enrty is internal and the route, so this is greatly appreciated.

    If anyone has anything else to contribute it would also be gratefully received xxx


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    BAJRite of High Renown Kel's Avatar
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    Certainly in a Finds Department, pottery and animal bones are your best bet if you're looking for a focus. You either learn to love pottery or bone (or both) or you go slightly nuts.

    If you want to go the FLO/PAS route, you're more likely to see things which the public deem "interesting" (as a sherd nerd I object to this attitude, but apparently shiny is better!). You could take a look on the Portable Antiquities site to see the kind of finds you're more likely to trip across in that role in your area: http://finds.org.uk/

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    Junior BAJRite Djelibeybi's Avatar
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    Thanks, Kel!

    Last year I was Finds Officer on a community excavation with finds dating from between the 1860s and the 1970s and of all types of materials. I processed all incoming finds, supervised cleaning, and was responsible for recording using the ARTHUR system, so have some experience already. For the 2010 excavation at the same site but different trench locations I assisted the Finds Officer in recording the ceramic small finds.

    http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/heel...uth-yorkshire/

    xxx

    Last edited by Djelibeybi; 23rd March 2012 at 07:54 PM. Reason: I'm a doofus who has abysmal grammar today!

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    Chivalric Lord of BAJR kevin wooldridge's Avatar
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    I haven't noticed so many adverts specifically for finds staff in recent months and suspect therefore that any vacancies that are occurring in this area are being filled internally (as GonetoPot suggests). I think you may have set yourself a difficult goal....Many finds specialists work freelance and this may be a more open field than waiting around for a convenient position to be advertised. But I am afraid it is a little 'chicken and egg'....can you get freelance work without already relevant experience and expertise?

    I would imagine that your interest and obvious enthusiasm would be welcomed in a local society or similar volunteer position and that may allow you to gain the expertise to widen your horizons at a later date.
    Last edited by kevin wooldridge; 25th March 2012 at 01:56 AM.
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    Chivalric Lord of BAJR Dinosaur's Avatar
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    There's a chronic shortage of earlier prehistoric pottery specialists in Northern England if you're looking for a gap (Terry Manby excepted, of course!), but I've absolutely no idea how you learn such a skill except by handling thousands of pots in museum collections, which is doubtless what he did many moons ago when they were more easily accessible

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    Master BAJRite RedEarth's Avatar
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    Read plenty of books and reports, take every opportunity you can get to deal with finds, and wait around for a long time for an opportunity to come up. If you are genuinely keen and good at it that might almost be enough!

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    Junior BAJRite Djelibeybi's Avatar
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    Cool

    Past Horizons
    Thanks for the advice, peeps!

    Having looked at the module choices for Level 3 of my Degree which I'll be studying for the next two years, there's precious little relating to finds per se. I guess those specialisations come in at Postgrad level rather than Undergrad.

    Might have to rethink a little but know I'll have future opportunities in finds processing on a voluntary basis with the experience and testimonials I have already.

    Last edited by Djelibeybi; 25th March 2012 at 09:52 PM. Reason: I'm being a doofus again and English became my 2nd language!

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