Friday, November 02, 2007

During my final year here at Cal, I’ve finally decided to undertake a URAP position and none other than the Cheney House project. Although I study anthropology, my focus is on social/cultural anthropology and archaeology was least appealing to me, although I do love all aspects of anthropology. I’d only taken one course in archaeology and that was the general anthro 2 course. With a yearning to have a broader knowledge of archaeology I figured, what would be better than getting hands on experience in archaeology? Working on the Cheney House project gives me the opportunity to take part in excavations as well as lab work (other anthropology related URAP programs do not include excavations). Of the numerous conversations I’ve had with archaeologists and archaeologists-in-training, the one thing they’ve all mentioned is to take part in fieldwork before deciding that archaeology is not for you!
First day of excavation, I grabbed a pickaxe and started hacking away at the earth, within a square unit of course. A piece of glass, a bit of ceramic, a hunk of brick; each time an artifact was recovered excitement would fill the air. This piece of ceramic, I wonder what it looked like whole? Was it a cup, bowl, or something entirely different? Each artifact was a clue which helps us to understand the lives of those who lived here.
Although strenuous and dirty, excavation is the most exciting part of archaeology as one is exposed to the physical location that once bustled with the life of others in which one can only imagine the many happenings that occurred in this location.
Now I can say, Thank goodness I took the advice. I have a clearer understanding of what archaeology is and the work that it entails and a greater appreciation of archaeology. Working on the Cheney House project, I’ve begun to rethink my future plans, and archaeology just might be where I’m heading.

Nkauj Thao


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