After completion of nearly five weeks of the field school, it is finally coming to an end. Since the first day, our work area, the pit, has changed quite a bit. Unit C has come and gone and has been completely filled up with screened dirt, and three more units have popped up near the Station Terrace wall where we have been excavating. The process has truly been something else. For starters, my body aches, my knees hurt, and I’m constantly tired, so this is some pretty tough labor. Secondly, working with other people in the pit is kind of an intimate process. You definitely get to know the people around you to some degree, especially the squadmate in your Unit. It’s an interesting experience. I know that if this wasn’t a class, we would probably go out to a bar or get something to eat, so our time together is coming to an end and hopefully I’ll see my fellow pit buddies throughout my last semester at MSU.
The limitations of starting this project with only six students has also been apparent. I’ve felt the pressure to do my job quickly and accurately to make up for our small group, but and even though the process has been slow, it has also been sweet. The number one thing that I try to keep in mind is that I’m partaking in archaeology’s greatest past-time, digging. My trowel and my body are both acting in tandem to uncover secrets of the past. Sure, I may not be in Egypt or South America, digging in an un-excavated tomb, but I am still traveling through time, learning about what it was like on campus in the late 1800’s.
This is a class, and as such I’ve learned quite a bit. Firstly, I’ve learned to take care of my body. I don’t want my knees to explode and I want to be a healthy old man one day, so now I know I need to stretch and I need to keep weight and tension off of my knees while I work. Secondly, I learned that the feelings of my fellow classmates/workers matters greatly. Having someone or something negatively impact the mentality of a fellow coworker can be disastrous, both for the mindset of the archaeologist and also in regards to how much work can and will be done. Working together, being patient, caring about one another, and understanding where everyone comes from is crucial for the sake of the project and for the sake of the humanity of the people you are around for 7 hours a day.
And the final thing I’ve learned is something that hasn’t necessarily been taught directly. I’ve learned how important archaeology is to history and culture. We would be lost without the understanding of who people were in the past through analysis of their material culture. Even if written documents exist in a particular time period, excavation of artifacts yields such a tremendous amount of knowledge about who people were and what they did that I honestly believe that we would be blind about history without archaeology. I’ll take what I have learned from Anthro and apply it for the rest of my life, and hopefully, if you have read these blogs from these humble students, you have learned something too.