(June 16, 2021)—It may not come as a surprise, but I—like many others—was first introduced to the concept of archaeology by watching Indiana Jones movies as a child. Although there is much to be said about Indiana Jones and his practices, the films drew me into the field and gave me the desire to learn about concepts and cultures I might not have otherwise been exposed to. And while my passion for archaeology has led me to great adventures, the delay of Archaeology Southwest’s Preservation Archaeology Field School seemed to put a wrench in my life plans. “If only…” became a state of being for me over the past year and a half.
Though I did indulge in moments of self-pity, I also attempted to adapt to the “new normal.” I was fortunate—and persistent—enough to land a job at a CRM (cultural resource management) firm near me working full-time as an archaeological field technician. Digging dirt and living the dream!
And it truly is my dream job. I was being exposed to beautiful artifacts ranging from projectile points to ceramics that I had only seen in museums. Even more, the people that I was working with taught me invaluable tips, tricks, and skills that helped confidently launch me into my first post-graduate job.
I hope I never seem ungrateful for being able to make a career out of a subject I am passionate about, but I must say that after months of working long, grueling days outdoors in midwinter, I began to feel weary about the work and continuing in archaeology. Unfortunately, I brought that attitude to the Preservation Archaeology Field School.
It had come to the point where I was frustrated by the idea of digging another unit, like it was just another day at work. As our three groups measured our units and began to dig, I noticed that all the other students found so much excitement in finding flaked stones and ceramic sherds and ground stone, whereas I continued to work quietly in my unit.
After only four days of fieldwork, my group reached the floor of the room we were excavating. And again, it seemed everyone was finding so much delight in every little step and every little artifact we found. Students and field crew members stopped work just to come and look at the cobbled floor of our unit. Indeed, it was incredible and puzzling at the same time, and though I did share in the excitement with others, it felt disingenuous, as if I were merely mimicking their enthusiasm.
Like they say, “fake it ‘til you make it.” As I continued to spend time with the other students, we developed friendships, spending our nights laughing and our days working hard together, congratulating and recognizing each other’s hard work. And instead of mimicking their delight, I genuinely began to feel it, too. The realization of how incredible each artifact is and how special the entirety of this experience is has come to me anew.
Before I arrived, I had created a narrative in my head that this year’s field school would heal my wounds from the losses of the past year. I was eager to learn more about public archaeology—archaeology that emphasizes the importance of public and community outreach—which is an aspect of archaeology that I find is increasingly important. I have been so fortunate to learn more about public archaeology and becoming an agent of change. The days may be long and tough, but the wounds are healed, thanks to the company of others who share my passions.