If there’s one thing I’ve realized in my path to a career in archaeology: experience is worth its weight in gold. My intention in choosing to intern at the Blackfriary was to use the on-hand experience I would gain at the field school to apply for employment with commercial archaeology firms back in the US.
In only three weeks as an intern at the Blackfriary I have already experienced many facets of working at an archaeological site, from general excavation to recordation and registration of features and artifacts. While these experiences are not new due to my status as a returning alum of the Blackfriary, the scope of my responsibilities are greater. I work one on one with a cutting supervisor in excavating a single investigatory area, or cutting, on site and assist in teaching field school students general excavation techniques and procedures.
Through this one on one mentor-ship dynamic, I am learning more than just how to perform and teach archaeological skills. I am learning to think about archaeology in a more comprehensive way. Archaeology is more than just dig here, trowel there, neat finds. In the field, all the features on site are recorded in detail as separate and distinct events, but they are all still a part of a bigger picture. Working alongside my supervisor I am learning to interpret the evidence uncovered. For example, a wall is more than an organized pile of stone; it is a complex series of choices made by human agency to serve a purpose. That purpose could be constructing a wall or an arch. It could be the systematic destruction of a wall when quarrying for reusable construction materials, where every bit taken and left behind represents a deliberate choice.
The more I am exposed to and the more I learn at the field school, the more definite I am that this was the right path for me. There’s just one hiccup, but it’s positive not negative. The overall academic atmosphere encompassing the field school has inspired me to rethink my immediate plans to join the commercial sector of archaeology. This internship has helped me realize, the farther removed I become from academia, the more I long for the excitement and the intellectual challenge of research. So, with my bachelor’s and Master’s degrees already complete, I’ve begun searching for PhD programs beginning for the 2018/2019 academic year, as it’s a bit too late to apply for the 2017/2018 year. The forced gap year will give me time to apply for programs and funding at a more relaxed pace.
The ultimate endgame for me in my search for a career in archaeology would be a research position at a University or Museum working with an archaeological osteology collection. My path to this end is ever changing and not always clear, but I am excited nevertheless.
– Kelsey Gamble, U.S.A