Posted by: signalhillarchaeology | August 4, 2009

A Glamorous Job?!?!

Here’s one student’s perspective on the contrast between fictional archaeologists and the real thing…

Archaeology, Oh how glamorous!!

Taking photographs of the wall of our excavation trench. Hm, somehow Indiana Jones never seemed to do this...

Taking photographs of the wall of our excavation trench. Hm, somehow Indiana Jones never seemed to do this...

Since childhood I’ve dreamed of digging up treasures, unearthing great temples, finding my Holy Grail and all the great adventures of the famous archaeologist (Amanda notes: Susan, if you find the Holy Grail, let me know… you can start to map it in and I’ll photograph it…)

As much as archaeology has always been of great interest to me, its not what I’ve been studying over the years. Instead I focused on Nutrition and Physical Education. Well, I finally found my mind or lost it!

A couple more courses and I will have an Archaeology degree– but Laura Croft I’m not!!

This summer, I have had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Signal Hill Field School and it’s better than anything I have imagined.

No, its no Indiana Jonas adventure but a smack in the face real look at what real archaeologists do, and there’s nothing glamorous about it. I’ve learned more in two months than many of my other courses combined.

The instructors have patiently walked us through the many requirements and procedures of real archaeology and I can honestly say it’s a lot of hard work and sometimes frustrating work. Today was profile mapping day. Two hours in and…..I’m starting over! Hey, it’s not as easy as it looks. (Amanda notes– again– the best way to learn how to map a profile is to screw it up royally and then have to do it all over again.  You’ll never make those mistakes again, trust me…)

The Curious Use of a Tarp, and other things one learns in field school... Bright sun and shadow in an excavation trench make for a poor photograph of an excavation trench-- the best thing to do here is to create overall shade in the excavation trench with a tarp and a lot of extra hands.

The Curious Use of a Tarp, and other things one learns in field school... Bright sun and shadow in an excavation trench make for a poor photograph-- the best thing to do here is to create overall shade in the excavation trench with a tarp and a lot of extra hands.

Sometimes the precise mapping, stratigraphic profiling,the upside down ditch digging and the intensive lab work make you want to pull your hair out…

But then you find a beautiful piece of ceramic, a detailed design clay pipe or a heavy cannon ball, and instantly the cold, wet, foggy weather and back breaking digging disappear.
Glamorous? No, but very fulfilling and worth every bruise, blister and aching
muscle.

Thanks especially to instructors and assistants– Amanda, Stéphane, Danielle,  and Jennifer. They eagerly and happily share their experience and knowledge making this summer a great learning experience.

— Susan Penney (Student).

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