Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So, you think you want to be an archaeologist?

After just a few short weeks of excavation here at the Cheney house I feel that I am somewhat of an expert on the subject, and I feel that I should share my findings on the subject. I have learned a great many things in the last few months and I will list my findings as a guide to any curious parties considering this field for a career. Everyone should try archaeology at least once because archaeology is very rewarding, you meet cool people, and the best part—you get to play in the dirt!
Do you like instant gratification? Really? Me too. That’s one of the great things about your first day on an archaeological dig. You feel like you’re getting results. Imagine my rapture upon screening my very first bucket of dirt to discover a big, fat, rusty nail hiding in it. What a find! I feel I should probably have received some sort of award for my contributions to the field, but finding that nail was enough of a reward in itself. I mean, really what are the odds of finding such a priceless artifact anywhere in all of northern California, let alone right here on campus—especially in sub-decimeter deep soil in an area surrounded by perpetual construction projects. Now, imagine my disappointment when I visited the laboratory a week later to discover a mountain of rusty nails awaiting my attention with a bucket of dirty water and an eroded toothbrush. I was devastated, to say the least. But I didn’t allow my spirits to flag, and after several long hours I emerged from the laboratory—my fingers rubbed raw by my hairless toothbrush—triumphant, leaving a heap of slightly-less-dirty, rusty nails in my wake.
The next week I headed out to the dig site with a renewed vigor—determined to make the next great anthropologic discovery of my generation. I was fully prepared to find a human skull within the next few inches of soil in the unit in which I was working. When I communicated this desire to one of my co-diggers (he a very experienced research assistant) I was told that such a find would result in the entire dig being put on hold indefinitely. So I put the dreams of human remains aside and hoped for some nice animal bones instead.

Mike McCarron


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