Archeology – science or calling?

The documented chronicles preserved to our time are not enough to get a clear idea of ​​the events, life, and culture of the past. An archaeologist is a science historian trained to fill existing gaps through excavations.

Karen Johnson, a professor from the University of Colorado at Denver, shares her experience and knowledge in the field of archeology. “The work of an archaeologist is fraught with a certain risk. This does not mean that before sending to excavations you need to start thinking how to delete my LinkedIn account, just in case. But extra caution never hurts.”

To work in this area, it is recommended to have good health, extensive knowledge in a number of compulsory disciplines, and specific personal qualities. In practice, archeology is not as simple and romantic as it seems to many. But this is a necessary, useful, interesting profession, which allows you to get a lot of important information about the past of mankind.

“None become an archaeologist because of chance. It’s your calling. We do really hard work and we don’t do it for an exciting portfolio. We do what needs to be done. What noone else can do.” – says Karen. But she also underline the importance of updating a resume.

“You should always be on the alert, be ready to go to the farthest point on the planet anytime. An impressive achievement list as well as an impressive resume are only indirect evidence, but not an end in itself. But they are gotten not that simply, you need to sweat really hard to add to your resume a couple of new lines. And of course, do not forget to update it regularly. And you need to get rid of an outdated resume on time, this also applies to a resume on Linkedin:

Indiana Jones movie

Types of archeology and their features:

  • field – excavation of the remains of human settlements and the study of traces of their stay on land;
  • underwater – study of the remains of ships that went under the water of cities, the rise of sunken artifacts;
  • experimental – restoration of destroyed or very old things important to history by reconstruction using innovative techniques.

It is rare to find a general archaeologist. Typically, representatives of the profession have a narrow specialization with a focus on a specific time period, region, historical period, or even a specific country, nationality.

What personal qualities should an archaeologist have

Effective work with artifacts requires the applicant to have a number of basic, specialized, narrowly focused knowledge. Also, the profession of an archaeologist often implies certain difficulties, which not everyone can cope with.

Qualities that an archaeologist should possess:

  • willingness to work in not the most comfortable conditions – often excavations are conducted far from civilization, where there are difficulties even with basic convenience;
  • patience and the ability to perform monotonous work for a long time – the day of many archaeologists consists of waving a shovel, brush or brush;
  • sociability, the ability to get along well with others – often it takes months to excavate, during which you have to communicate with a narrow circle of people;
  • focus on performing not only intellectual tasks, but also hard physical exercises – for many archaeologists a working day consists of carrying weights, being in an uncomfortable position;
  • dedication to your work, willingness to learn constantly – if these qualities are not there, then difficulties will quickly override all the positive aspects of your work;
  • the ability to notice little things, analyze them, draw conclusions from not the most obvious signs;
  • the ability to compare a lot of different data, operate with large volumes of information, make decisions quickly;
  • accuracy, pedantry – most artifacts are in a vulnerable position. Any careless movement is capable of destroying the historical heritage;
  • lack of imagination or the ability to restrain it – archaeologists work only with obvious things. They should be able to abstract from theory, making conclusions only on proven facts.

Knowledge and skills

Historical knowledge is necessary, especially important is the knowledge of the era under study, knowledge in related fields: scientific restoration, paleo-soil cultivation, paleogeography, etc.

A field or underwater archaeologist needs good physical fitness and endurance. After all, they often have to work in adverse conditions, with critical indicators of temperature and humidity, and the absence of basic amenities.

Doctors identify a number of medical contraindications for applicants for a specialty: heart disease, changes in blood pressure, cramps, hearing or speech problems, diabetes mellitus, impaired blood composition, dermatitis, and chronic infections. A prerequisite is the absence of allergic reactions to various irritants – from dust or insect bites to chemicals.

Often it is necessary to study disciplines that are not directly related to archeology: anthropology, ethnography, heraldry, numismatics, textology, heraldry, physics, chemistry, statistics.

In addition, you must have the skills of a geodesist and topographer. And when working in the mountains or under water – the skills of a climber or diver. For this you need special additional training.