(October 15, 2015)—Why did I become an archaeologist? Here in the United States, archaeology is considered a subdivision of the larger field of anthropology. And in the definition of that word “anthropology” lies the answer to the question for me.
In my first years of college, I found myself working on a double major in English and Mathematics, and spending every free second of my time in the Theatre Arts department. Talk about widely divergent interests! I loved learning about all aspects of the world. I simply did not want to be forced to narrow my intellectual focus to just one small piece of it.
And then I remembered anthropology. I had grown up on National Geographic Magazine—my grandparents had a collection in their staircase bookshelves that must have gone back to at least the early 1920s. Many childhood hours were spent sitting on those stairs, working my way through those magazines. I was fascinated by the insights into other people’s lives the wonderful images gave me, and I enjoyed trying to understand what it would be like to live in a different time or place.
Anthropology, simply put, is the study of humanity. It encompasses so much. One can be a scientist and be an anthropologist. One can be a humanities scholar and be an anthropologist. To me, it seemed the perfect field in which to let my basic curiosity about human beings and all the wonderful and strange things they do have full rein.
Although I personally no longer pursue archaeological research today, my role at Archaeology Southwest allows me to continue to indulge my basic interest in humanity. I have the opportunity to meet and get to know many fascinating people from many different backgrounds and walks of life. We are all brought together by our shared interest in the many human stories of the Southwest’s past. It’s an honor and a privilege to spend my days in this way.