Ahhh, the romance of archaeology. The feeling of the sun on your face, dust on your boots, your trowel in your pocket and a wide open playground of possibility in the field ahead of you. Staying up late in the lab, categorizing and analyzing lithics until your back is sore from being bent over the lab table. Running your data through a statistical test and finding out that your hypothesis may really be on to something after all.
That’s some of the fun stuff of archaeology.
What films and even university professors don’t often tell you about is all the paperwork.
I’ve spent most of my Day of Archaeology filling out forms and setting up new user accounts on websites in order to help provide digital infrastructure and GIS support to a friend whose company is bidding on an archaeological survey for Federal land. In order to be a subcontractor to her business, I needed to to apply for a DUNS number and then register my business with the US Federal government’s award system website SAM.
I’ve also been emailing back and forth with a few potential clients about database projects. It takes a lot of work and communication to prepare and set up to do the actual “Work” of archaeology. On the plus side, part of the reason there’s so much paperwork to do lately is that my business has been getting more and more interest from folks who are preparing grants. In particular, both the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) now require data management plans, which discuss what data are generated by research projects and what are each grantee’s plans for managing, archiving, and making the resultant data available to other researchers. I’m really happy that this requirement exists as I believe data publication and archival are extremely important for us to be able to conduct large scale studies and critically appraise past results. Archaeologist Robert Kelly gave a great talk at the AAA meeting about the role data sharing has in how we can use archaeology to answer some of the “grand challenges” facing our world today. If you haven’t seen his talk yet, check it out!
Some of the projects are pretty exciting and I love talking with other archaeologists about the many ways to organize and share digital archaeological information! We’ll see what comes of all this talking and hustling. While exciting, running my business the last 2 years has really made me wish that I had taken more business classes or even done like some archaeologists I know and pursued an MBA. While very few archaeologists probably really want to run businesses; knowing a little about the business world would help immensely in running better CRM archaeology companies and providing more funds for employees, proper artifact curation, and data publishing.
Now, I’m off to spend the rest of the day taking care of my baby son (one of the perks of working from home) and see what the rest of the archaeology world has been up to today!