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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Archaeology is More than Dirt and Lecturing


Greetings Ancient Diggers from the catacombs of my new office as an Academic Coordinator. Needless to say, I have not been abreast to the latest findings in the archaeological world, as I'm digging through these old, ancient storage units, which I just can't find the words for. They hold these bizarre looking green folders, and they contain these cryptographic seals.

That's right! I'm in the coveted office of the Coordinator. The one that waves her wand and kids flock to forced study where evil scientists wield their powers, and kids grunt in protest. It's education, and I love it!

This has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my entire life. Even though I have an anthropology background, I'm amazed at how it can translate to so many other areas of research. One minute you're digging in the dirt, and the next, you're lecturing to a class of second language learners who eat and drink their new language.

Over the past few months I've spoken with many hopeful archaeologists and anthropologists students hoping to break into the field after college. In my case, I headed out of the dirt and into the classroom, and I haven't looked back, but for some you, teaching isn't an option. There nothing wrong with that. Just don't allow someone, a mentor, parent, or even another professor, to steer you down a path that you can't envision on your own.

This reminds me of that line in Indiana Jones when Harrison Ford says, "You can't be a good archaeologists unless you get out of the library". In this case, it's the classroom, yet every archaeologist teaching classes will say the same thing. It's great going out there and getting your hands dirty, but when it comes to cleaning up, i.e. reports and archiving, it's a plain drag.

This doesn't mean you have to spend your life with dirt under your fingernails hoping you never have to complete those reports yourself. It also doesn't mean that you can't still enjoy the feel of ancient dirt around your toes as you brush away the grains of sand from a ceramic.

The outlook is nowhere near as grim as people believe, because in order to really understand history, you have to teach it to others. This doesn't always mean lecturing. How many of you have visited a local museum and read the information plaque? How many hands up? Now how many of you said to yourself, "I never knew that"? This means you learned something, and why? Someone back in the dark trenches of the museum wrote those words for you after researching the topic in the field for years. It's just their way of communicating to you.

Look outside yourself and be creative, because our field is in dier need of innovation and creativity. The next archaeological genious could be you!

3 Comments:

Mandy Southgate said...

It's so good to see that you're doing so well and that you achieved your dream! Perhaps one day, when you're not so busy, you could write a guest post over on A Passion to Understand about how you achieved your dream as an adult learner going back to school. Or perhaps I could interview you? Let me know if you;re interested!

Lauren Axelrod said...

Mandy, I would love that. Email me at ancientdigger@gmail.com with some questions.

Ahmad Saadillah said...

Great post, thank you for sharing it to me
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