A Day in the Life of Bones Don’t Lie

That's me in a giant trench excavating for Campus Archaeology, found part of the first dormitory

That’s me in a giant trench excavating for Campus Archaeology, found part of the first dormitory

The Day of Archaeology is a digital celebration of the breadth and variety of archaeology that occurs throughout the world. It provides a snapshot of what different types of archaeologists do on a day to day basis. The goal is to increase “public awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world” (Day of Archaeology). I’ve participated in this event for the past two years, and I’m excited to be joining in again for my third year! I’m adding my perspective in two ways, the first is through my primary job as Campus Archaeologist of MSU. You can check out my Day of Archaeology post on Campus Archaeology here: Our Favorite Moments in Campus Archaeology which includes my favorite moment from digging this summer. Second, I can share what I’m doing on a daily basis.

Early Morning: I always start the day with a flavored coffee, and my current favorite is Macadamia Nut Cookie coffee that I have to order special online. Once I get that first sip into my system, I read up on the archaeology news. It’s important to keep up to date on what has been found, what new techniques are being used, and what may potentially serve as a new blog post for Bones Don’t Lie. I’ve found that starting the day like this prepares my brain for work. This morning I’m caught looking up the effects of corsets on bones; an odd topic for breakfast, but oh so intriguing.

Morning: I head into the office to start my job as Campus Archaeologist around 8am. The MSU Campus Archaeologist is a position held by a grad student, and involves running the day to day operations of the program including monitoring construction, excavating prior to construction, engaging with the campus community and conducting research on the archaeology of campus. It is a two year position, and I’ve been Campus Archaeologist for approximately 23 months. This means that my time today is going to be spent preparing for the new Campus Archaeologist. I’m hoping to get all of my reports finished before my predecessor begins. A quick break from writing to meet with the Chair of the Anthropology department to discuss my new job, and then I’m back to working on Campus Archaeology reports. We did about 6 archaeological surveys, so there is a lot of research and writing that needs to be done to complete the summer work.

Afternoon: This afternoon I’m working on writing up my research trip. As many of my Bones Don’t Lie readers know, I’ve been in England examining archaeological collections and meeting with various archaeologists to prepare for my dissertation proposal. Every day over the two weeks abroad I visited a different museum or university. All of that information needs to be collated and written up before it leaves my brain. When I think about my life as an archaeologist, I mostly remember the days in the dirt. Realistically though I spend most of my time at my computer writing up what I’ve been doing or what I intend to do. Archaeology is a few months of digging bookended by months of careful research, interpretation and writing.

Night: If it is a Monday or Wednesday night, that means I’m going to spend a couple hours researching and writing a new Bones Don’t Lie post. One of the things I love about writing a blog broadly on mortuary archaeology is that I get the chance to learn about a lot of different regions and time periods. Burial practices vary so much through time and space, and I love that I have a venue for sharing what I’ve learned about them. Tonight though, I’m doing something less scholarly because its Friday. I was inspired as a kid by Tomb Raider, and I still get a thrill playing archaeology themed video games. Admittedly, tonight I’m playing a grave robbing and completely not politically correct adventure game with archaeological undertones- Uncharted. These types of games allow me to feel something I only feel when digging- the sense of the unknown and the opportunity to uncover it. I’d rather be digging up a burial, learning who the skeleton inside was, and doing the hardcore research- but sometimes we need downtime, and games like these provide a quick fix for that desire.