Arizona

5 Reasons Why I Became an Archaeologist

1. Travel

Ever since my parents took me on a trip to the Caribbean as a child, I plotted to find a way to spend every winter in the tropics. I wanted to get paid to travel. I wanted to escape the Chicago snow.

My chance came in grad school when I had the opportunity to teach field schools in Belize. I was in grad school for a long time so I was able to look forward to flying south with the birds each time spring semester rolled around.

Since completing my MA and PhD in Archaeology I’ve continued living a nomadic life by working on projects in Mexico, California, and Arizona. What I didn’t expect was that I’d eventually tire of travel after moving from motel to motel off remote desert highways as a CRM archaeologist. So now I’m what they call an armchair archaeologist, and today I’m exploring world archaeology via posts to this blog.

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A day of monitoring

Well, prior to the “great recession”, I used to work as a professional archaeologist holding a Ph.D., M.B.A., and having 30 years of experience in the private cultural resources industry. Now, however, in these days of slow economic recovery in the United States, I am back where I started working as an archaeological laborer (and am feeling lucky that I am able to find any work at all in archaeology).

Today I was up early, at 4 am, and out of the house by 5. After stopping at the office to pick up a truck and some gear, it was out to the Town of Marana, Arizona for a 6 am start time at a construction site. One of the local electrical utilities was installing some new poles and the transmission line crossed some known, and important, early agricultural village sites along the Santa Cruz River. My job was to monitor the contstruction crews and their hole drilling so work could be stopped if archaeological remains were encountered.

The first half of the day was spent setting in the truck waiting for the construction crews to get organized and actually start drilling. Finally, they began to auger down into the earth. I watched the spoils come to the surface, checking for artifacts, bone, charcoal, etc. and did my best to document the stratigraphic changes. Only two, three-foot holes were drilled today and both were to a depth of 16 feet. No archaeological artifacts or cultural deposits were encountered. After the first two holes, the construction crews discovered they didn’t have enough hole covers to continute drilling, so they quit for the day about 1 pm.

I then drove back to the office, dropped off the truck and gear, logged my hours, and headed home. Some days archaeology is cool and full of interesting discoveries and insights about the past. Today wasn’t one of those days!

It’s all fun and games until you break my GPS

The day in the life of a GIS manager.

As a GIS manager at a small environmental and archaeological firm in Arizona I don’t get out much to enjoy the archaeology any more (Dirt? Never touch the stuff).

Since I wake up 8 hours behind the rest of the world, my Friday is about to consist of getting a quote on a GPS repair (most likely not worth the fix since it’s a Juno and pretty worthless in the first place… 2-5 m accuracy? Boo hiss), working on proposals for local scanning projects , answering phoned in questions on the total station from the crew in the field excavating (told you I don’t get out), cleaning up data on the server (my nemesis), digitizing rocks and mortar, and pulling maps out of thin air. All by 5 or beer thirty, whichever comes first… hopefully the latter?

So I should probably stop blogging and get to work!