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Things I Wish I Had Known About Archaeology
#1
For project I am helping create a guide for new archaeologists to commercial archaeology. It got me thinking about what I wish I had known before I became an archaeologists and what information I should include in our project for newbeis.

What do you wish you had known?

My list and some of the other responses are here- http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/20...chaeology/ I will add to the list as more people feedback.
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#2
List so far-
  • Pay- Yes, everyone also said pay was bad but no one has ever quantified it. Well a few reports did but they were hidden away and none dealt with the regional difference in pay (this is for North America).
  • Gear- People say get a trowel but not all trowels are created the same. I prefer a Marshalltown for sandy soils but a WHS/pick-ax for clay and other harder soils. Also, the little things like line levels, pencils that work, pens that work, markers, compass, a clipboard that works, etc.
  • Cloths- I know lots of people who buy snake guards once and then realise that places that have poisonous snakes are also very hot. You quickly realise that that extra layer of thick cloth is not great in 100 degree heat (40 C). I have seen someone heat stroke out because of them.
  • Basic ability to identify lithics, ceramics, hearths, etc. – Not just identify while standing still or in a lab after someone have told you its an artefact and handed it to you. No, while you are on the move, huffing it over steep and tough terrain in 100 degree heat. At a fairly decent pace, the type demanded of pedestrian survey ( I realise not every were in the world does this sort of survey) you can pace over the edge of a site in a matter of sec. and can easily miss a site if you have no idea what you are looking for. Picking out an arrowhead is easy for anyone but picking out a flake 1cm long in bad light is a skill. I remember when I first did survey I had no clue what I was looking for and afraid to stop everyone every tens sec. to say, “is this something?”. Yes, I picked up the skill eventually but man it would have been nice early on.
  • Laws- many times you are out doing archaeology with only at vague idea of why. It would be great if I known the laws before hand (US, UK) instead of picking them up as I went.
These are just a few of the things I wish I had known.
From Jim-
  • Insects, surprisingly, insects are a concern and we have seen freshly minted archaeologists quit because they could not put up with those annoying biting pests (it’s not that anyone really likes them). If you want to be an archaeologist, spend some time outside before you commit to a degree.
  • Diet, if you have allergies or other dietary conditions – when working in small towns and remote locations it can be a real bear trying to find something that you can actually eat. The usual response is that people then don’t eat. Unfortunately, if you are working outside all day, eating is important. So think about how to manage your needs before you go into the field (don’t expect your crew supervisor to have thought it through for you).
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#3
Quote:If you want to be an archaeologist, spend some time outside before you commit to a degree.

Cracks me up.... I like it!

For a list try this one

http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/showthread.php?...-trenchies

OR Here.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/400953/101-Tip...rchaeology


Top tipping Smile
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#4
From Robert-
I wish someone had told me about the need to protect your knees and hands! When I first started in archaeology in Ireland, kneelers were unknown. On far too many sites along the way they were a rarity. The macho culture being what it was, many of us never made a fuss about it and just trowelled our way along through the cold and the wet. Same with protective gloves – on many of the sites they were available we didn’t use them (and the pay was often so bad, it was considered an extravagance to buy your own). Today, after two decades in the field, I have arthritis in my hands, knees and one of my hips. All the same, I’ve got many more positive things to take from my career than negative ones … still wish someone had pointed me in the right direction early on!
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#5
Thanks David, added to the list of regrets/wisdom.
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#6
Doug Wrote:[*]Diet, if you have allergies or other dietary conditions – when working in small towns and remote locations it can be a real bear trying to find something that you can actually eat. The usual response is that people then don’t eat. Unfortunately, if you are working outside all day, eating is important. So think about how to manage your needs before you go into the field (don’t expect your crew supervisor to have thought it through for you). [/LIST]

I think most people with a specialised diet have learnt to cope with the availability/non-availability of their foods...the problem is often one where there are no facilites for cooking or preparing food and that's a problem for everyone on the project.

What opened my eyes to the reality of archaeology was when my late friend Robbie told me on the 3rd project I ever worked on 'Kev, there are lots of people who have got a long way in archaeology, without ever having to use any intelligence. Stick around and eventually you will meet them all'.
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#7
kevin wooldridge Wrote:'Kev, there are lots of people who have got a long way in archaeology, without ever having to use any intelligence. Stick around and eventually you will meet them all'.

Never was a truer word said. One constant of field archaeology is that everyone meets everyone else at one point or another and the same names and faces from that particular catagory crop up with alarming regularity.

My tip would be to consider if you have a thick enough skin. There are a lot of highly opinionated people out there who aren't backward about coming forward with their explanation of what the 'problem with you is' (at a professional or personal level).
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.
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#8
Be aware that throughout your career you will meet many people within archaeology that act like they are saving the world one site at a time.

Also be aware that no-one outside of the profession will ever think your job is even close to being that important.

Have a thick skin as you will be asked, regularly, if you do this as a 'real' job, and whilst most of your person will be indignant at this question, a tiny part of you will always know that this isn't a real job!
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#9
When to quit. Fun as it is, archaeology is a pretty hard row. Try and work out your goals, and how many deadpersons shoes you will have to fill to reach your goal.Sad
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#10
There is no structured progression in archaeology...........forge your own path, take every opportunity that arises.
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