Sunday, March 31, 2013

How To Be... an Archaeologist

Today is the FREE! release of "Part Eighteen: The Angel"
But, first, it's time for the letter "A"!

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen someone say something to the effect of, "Well, I saw Indiana Jones, and I wanted to be an archaeologist just like him!" And, you know, I get that. Who wouldn't want to be Indiana Jones? The only problem is that Indiana Jones was more of a treasure hunter than an archaeologist. Sure, he was a professor of archaeology, but that was as Dr. Jones. When he was Indy, he was after treasure!
"I doubt any archaeologist who spent part of their youth in the 1980's didn't have Indy as a huge influence in deciding his career. How could you not?" -- an archaeologist (no, really, it's a real quote!)
"No matter how hard they deny it, every archaeologist is a fan of Indiana Jones. Without him, our field wouldn't seem nearly as romantic as it does." -- another archaeologist

Archaeology, although it can contain a measure of treasure finding, is much more complex than that. First of all, in the United States, at least, archaeology is a branch of anthropology, specializing in the recovery and analysis of material culture and environmental data. Generally speaking, a degree in anthropology is suggested. However, none of the founders of the discipline had that degree as anthropology, in many ways, developed out of archaeology, although what it really was was tomb raiding. So how did they do it?

Well, one archaeologist says, "If you were that kid that always came home with dirt on your jeans and a bullfrog in your pocket, this might be the right job for you." I'm taking that to mean that the first thing you need to be an archaeologist is a love of getting dirty. Or, at least, a willingness. I have to take the bullfrog out of the picture, because, if the goal was just to catch bullfrogs, I'd have to say that path would more likely lead to herpetology (and, no, that has nothing to do with a disease).

So, once you're willing to get down in the dirt, what do you need? You need to like being outdoors, because, unless you just want to be a professor and teach, "you are going to spend a majority of your time outdoors, walking for miles on field surveys, digging for hours in the earth, and generally getting completely filthy every day."

Now, you need to know how to dig. I hear you saying, "But I know how to dig. Just get a shovel and go to it." That would be wrong. Unless you want to destroy the stuff you're digging up. The best way to learn how to dig is to attend a field school, a course that puts you out in the field, teaches you the tools of the trade, and gives you experience in digging with a spoon instead of a shovel. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it's not much of one. On a dig, the goal is to remove 5-10 cm of dirt at a time so that the soil and artifacts can reveal history, not just yield treasures. It is the responsibility of the archaeologist to convey that story to the world.

That's a good place to start, but you might remember that Indy had a pretty good grasp of the languages and cultures of the places he went, so, if you really want to excel, especially if you're going to be looking for buried treasure, you better start brushing up on those language skills! And, you know, acclimate yourself to the local cuisine. Oh, and have a good background in history and geography. And, well, there's actually too many things to list.

I suppose the real question is whether you want to be a real archaeologist or just a treasure hunter. A lot of the obvious places to just go dig things up have already been dug up or are in the process of being dug up, so that go-out-and-find-it-yourself archaeology is becoming harder and harder to do. All sorts of new technology help today's archaeologists find interesting places to dig for new stuff, including satellites! I don't think you actually have to know how to navigate a satellite, though, to be an archaeologist.

So there you go... where to start to be an archaeologist. Now, where did I put that shovel...?

Now that you know how to be an archaeologist, it's time to go dig up some FREE! books. Or, at least, parts of a book. Look at it like finding bits and pieces of an ancient manuscript! Here are today's FREE! Shadow Spinner offerings:
"Part Eighteen: The Angel" (NEW!!!)
"Part Seventeen: The Tree of Light"
"Part Sixteen: The Dark Tree"
"Part Fifteen: Food of the Garden"
"Part Eleven: The Kiss"
"Part Ten: The Broken Window"
"Part Nine: The Shadow of the Tree"
"Part Eight: The Cold and The Dark"
"Part Six: The Man with No Eyes"
"Part Five: The Police Car"
"Part Four: The Cop"
"Part Three: The Bedroom"
"Part Two: The Kitchen Table"
"Part One: The Tunnel"
"The Evil That Men Do"

That's 14 of 18 parts plus the part 0, "The Evil That Men Do"!
And, as an added bonus, I'll throw in Charter Shorts for FREE! today, too.

Make sure you pick up your copies today!


  1. I saw Indiana Jones, and I didn't want to be an archaeologist. Or a professor of archaeology.

    But I do think it's a cool profession. I just don't have the patience for it.

    Now, I'm off to download Part Eighteen.

  2. *raises hand* Guilty as charged.

    To be honest, what turned me off from wanting to pursue archaeology as a career was learning the realities of the expense and the need for funding and thus dealing with bureaucracy.

  3. Lol! I've got an archaeology degree, but I can honestly say it has nothing to do with Indiana Jones. I think I may have seen one or two of the films but I don't remember much about them.

  4. There's a lot more involved in the job than most people realize!

  5. Gawd, I can't imagine how boring that job would actually be. Of course if Harrison came along and jazzed thangs up I might change my mind. YOWZAH!!!!!

  6. Psssh, of course I know how to dig. I'm part Mexican. Also, I knew from a very young age that archaeologist was not nearly as fun as ol' Indie made it out to be. It seems the likelihood of being pursued by Nazis has dropped almost 100% over the last 70 years.

  7. Archaeology is both boring and interesting, the hours spent achieving nothing and the rare chance of actually finding something require a dedication I could never give to it.


  8. I definitely considered archaeology after watching Indy as a kid. But you're right, he's more of a treasure hunter. And on my list under "t"...

  9. I was not into Indiana Jones and never wanted to be an archaeologist, but I love those documentaries where they show you the digs...the ancient buried cities, fossils and the like. I don't think I would have the patience required for this career. Plus the hours and days and weeks of hunching over the site must be killer on the back!
    Hey, great offer on the books!

  10. I would rather be the treasure hunter than a archaeologist! How cool to be Indiana JONES!! When I was growing up I thought the most glamours job would be an airline stewardess.
    I'm visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  11. As long as Indy is with me, I'd do the archaeologist thing ;)

  12. I always thought that would have been an interesting with some job security. We're always digging something up! :)

  13. I knew you'd look to lucasfilm for your first "A" post. And I was right!

  14. After I watched Indiana Jones all I really wanted was, um, Indiana Jones. I think I'm rather shallow. :P

  15. I think, more than anything, to be an archaeologist, you have to be very patient. So not my thing.

    BTW - your comment on my post cracked me up!

  16. M.J.: Well, I didn't want to be an archaeologist, either, but that's because I still wanted to be a paleontologist (which people confuse with archaeology all the time).
    And thanks for picking up 18!

    Sarah: Yeah, the realities of things are like that, like me with paleontology.

    Kellie: Oh, cool! But do you actually use it? That's the real question.

    Alex: There is. The thing with the satellites was just the beginning.

    JKIR,F: He's probably getting a bit too old for field work these days, don'tchathink?

    ABftS: Well, that's true; you're not likely to have to go up against any Nazis, but I bet you could arrange to mix it up with the Taliban. Yes, that can be your next blog post.

    Jo: I bet it's a lot like gambling and the way that affects the brain.

  17. S.L.: Well, I can't wait to see that one, then.

    Eve: I'm not much the outdoorsman anymore, so I don't think I would really enjoy the field work.

    Connie: I think that would -almost- be fun. You'd get to travel all over the world (potentially), but I think you wouldn't get to see that much stuff while doing it.

    Cassie: That sounds familiar...

    DL: Evidently, there's not a lot of job security in it these days as international interest and funding has fallen off and is at the lowest point in decades.

    Michael: heh I didn't really look there; it just happened.

    L.G.: No different than guys wanting to be him, I don't think.

    Nancy: I'm tempted to fall back on a Yoda quote here...

    Good :)

  18. The Indiana Jones job sounds much too complicated for me. I guess I'll just stick to my less appealing cleaning job. :)

  19. So what started off as tomb raiding was legitimized as archeology, then romanticized as treasure hunting. Fascinating stuff!
    As a side note, I was once asked in a college class what I'd, as a kid, wanted to be when I grew up. I answered, Indiana Jones. The professor looked really confused and said, you mean, the female sidekick? Ouch!

  20. GG: Well, archaeology is kind of cleaning. Very careful cleaning. Just don't break anything.

    Winopants: Oh, man, that's just wrong. I hope you corrected him. Seriously, I'm offended for you.

  21. I think many people wanted to be (or date- whatever) an archeologist after watching Indiana Jones. ;)

  22. Free books....or, at least, parts of a book?!?!? I'm in....

    I loved your post!

  23. Another fine A to Z theme. You always come up with the goods.

  24. Can't pass up The Angel...I have a lot of reading to do now!
    How to be a... good theme! I only wanted to learn about "butterflies, flowers, birds and horses" and not dead ones.

  25. We must be about the same age. I wanted to be an archaeologist, too, after I saw the Indiana Jones movie. Of course, that's part of my basic nature: I can't watch anything without wanting to do it or make it or be in it or something.

    I told my mom I wanted to be an archaeologist, and she said "You know it's nothing like Indiana Jones," which I did NOT know but I responded with "Of course I know that, I'm not dumb," and then I got really mad at her for assuming I didn't know that archaeology was nothing like Indiana Jones, and even madder at her for pointing out to me that it was nothing like Indiana Jones even though I didn't want her to know that I didn't know that.

    So I got her back by not becoming a doctor. That'll show her! And also help a bunch of sick people that I inevitably would have doctored very badly.

    "So. Um. You're sick. I can see that. No, please, don't touch me. That's gross. I would rather treat you by IS THAT BLOOD? NO? WHAT IS COMING OUT OF YOU? NURSE."
    -- My final speech as a doctor, in another universe.

  26. I have read a couple of books about Archeology (pop science ones... the best!) and in the end I feel like it has a fundamental flaw that most sciences have... they require obsession with that single subject. There aren't any real disciplines that call for a generalist's knowledge.

    I mean, as a way of having a career.

    Regardless, if this is a sign of what the month is going to be like here, then I'm pretty excited.

  27. I think this is a great look at archaeology. There are probably a ton of disappointed first year students out there who realize it's not quite as full of whips and tomb raiding as Indiana Jones claimed. Honestly, I'd prefer real archaeology anyway. It sounds more interesting.

  28. Gotta love Indy! Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I'm delighted to return the favor.

  29. Kimberly: Well, with Ford... Now, imagine if it had been Tom Selleck, instead, like they wanted.

    MOCK!: I'm glad. I hope you enjoy the book pieces!

    Elizabeth: Well, until I don't, but I hope that doesn't happen for a long time. I do already have an idea for next year, but I'm not sold on it yet.

    Donna: Well, yeah, I can understand that. I have no interest in dead horses... ew...

    Briane: We are the same age-ish. Not more than 2 years off.
    I'm glad you're not a doctor. That was always one of my top 3 things I did not want to be.

    Rusty: Well, I think this month will have some interesting stuff. And I think you'll enjoy "I."

    Jeanne: Yeah, culturally, it is much more interesting.

    TAS: Oh, yeah, sure. Thanks for coming over.

  30. I am so guilty of this. And of watching Jurassic Park and wanting to be a paleontologist. Great post!

    Jessica @ Visions of Other Worlds
    Twitter: @jmarcarelli, #atozchallenge

  31. Jessica: All it took for me to want to be a paleontologist was a dinosaur on a gas station. I can't imagine what it would have been like if I'd seen Jurassic Park at around the age of 5.

  32. The fun part is that they keep discovering older cities/villages/whathaveyou buried beneath other ones. There's actually quite a bit to explore; it's just not as obvious as, say, a pyramid. Yes, initially I wanted to be a Indiana Jones archaeologist, but it's the discovery and learning about past cultures, of seeing bits and pieces of what they did, how they lived, etc., that really interested me. Still does. I always find it fascinating, and always will.

    I wish I'd taken anthropology in college. I may just go find a used textbook and learn it myself. There are a few subjects I want to do that with. Then, hey, if I ever get to go back and pursue a degree beyond my Associate's, certain classes will be a cinch!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  33. Shannon: My wife has a degree in anthropology. Cultural stuff is really very interesting.

  34. Cool! What work has she done related to anthropology? Or has she ever gotten to?

  35. Shannon: No, she's never actually used it. Well, except to correct me :P