(July 12, 2017)—Before coming to the Preservation Archaeology Field School, I was having a hard time reconciling my love for archaeology and my burgeoning interest in remote sensing and soils. For a long time, I thought I would have to abandon the cause and pursue geology or geography to get what I was looking for. All of that changed in September of last year when I met someone who put me on the path of figuring out what I actually want from archaeology.
I scheduled meetings with a few staff in my department last fall because I wanted to find a way to “reconnect” with archaeology. Because my degree is in Landscape Archaeology, I spend more time in the Geography department than the Archaeology department, and I often find myself feeling left out of the loop. After one of these meetings, I was invited to volunteer on an interdisciplinary project concerning Chaco Canyon. That same day, I was introduced to the pre-doc on the project and she almost immediately brought up the Preservation Archaeology Field School.
Following months of debating, I finally decided I wanted to see for myself where the samples I was cataloging were coming from. After I was accepted, I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond field techniques, but once I got here, I realized I would be getting so much more. The first thing that jumped out at me was the variety of lecture topics and field trips we would get to experience. The most important to me was Chaco Canyon. The moment I got here I started counting down the days to Chaco, until it was pointed out to me that Dr. Gary Huckleberry, geoarchaeologist, would be coming to give a talk and interpret the depositional history of the site.
This news completely changed the way I approached my experience here and it caused me to focus on developing my soils knowledge in relation to the site and the Southwest in general. I decided to take this opportunity to get an even better idea of how to strike the balance between archaeology and my other interests.
When Gary arrived, I shadowed him to see what went into soil consulting for sites. We walked the site and the surrounding area so he could determine the factors that could impact the stratigraphy. After surveying the area, we settled into the “Gary Huckleberry Trench” to read the depositional history. Gary explained how the soil was deposited and concluded that most of the flooding came from the arroyo and not the Gila River. From this interaction, I found out soil consulting is an option in the Southwest, and something I would be interested in pursuing.
This experience was only made better when the site mapper, Tyler, came out at the end of the field season. Tyler came to record the units and features that were excavated through the season using a Trimble similar to the one we used on survey. He took the time to talk to me about how he got into mapping and exactly what he does in the field. And he gave me some advice about casting a wide net.
This conversation, combined with the interactions I had with Gary Huckleberry and Allen Denoyer, made me realize I can make my own niche in archaeology. I don’t have to have a specific region or hyper focus on a particular specialty to do what I want to do. That being said, I am now leaving New Mexico with a better idea of what I want to do. Even if the “how” is still fuzzy and the “when” is up in the air, I know that whenever I get there, I will have this amazing new network of incredible people to support me.