Stanford

Archaeology, Gigs and Grad School

Greetings Fellow Humans!

This is my first Day of Archaeology post, so an introduction. I am Nikki Martensen, an archaeologist, and an applied anthropologist. I am currently pursuing my Master’s Degree in Applied Anthropology at Humboldt State University. My thesis research focuses on the user experiences of archaeology as it is presented through the internet.

Here is me working on the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project (the artifacts on the tray are rubber telephone mouthpieces).

I have a few other things going on as well. I also work at the Stanford Archaeology Center as a research assistant for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, doing some collections management and ceramic analysis. I am also an intern at the Center for Digital Archaeology, and recently joined the team of Codifi, Inc., and we are helping some really cool archaeology projects go paperless with their fieldwork.

This week, I have been on location in the Center for Digital Archaeology office, hanging out with fellow interns. We got an awesome lesson from Chris Sims of Go Dig a Hole about podcasting and even got to join in on an episode recording.

Whether I am working from the office, or from home, a typical day for me will cycle through a few different experiences. It is normal for me to have several projects at once. I don’t do all of these things daily, but a typical work day of my life is a bit like this:

Walking, and java

First thing every day. Some days I end up at the computer all day, so this helps to keep me sane.

Thesis writing

I am currently in the proposal writing stage of my Master’s Thesis. Most days I will read something related to my topic, or write and revise some part of it.

Codifi Team Communication

Every day, the team has a quick check in meeting through a video call. Since the team isn’t always working at the same time, this helps to check in with our plans and availability for meetings throughout the day.Working with Codifi is both fulfilling and stimulating. We’ve helped with some awesome field deployments for archaeology projects such as Horvat Midras n the Judaean foothills (you can check out photos of the project on the Horvat Midras Excavation page on Facebook.)

Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA), Blogging and Outreach

One of my favorite parts of my internship is the blogging and outreach. Some days, I may be writing out some TrainingTIPS for the CoDA blog. This is a series of simple and useful tips that I have learned while being a student in CoDA webinars.

Ceramic Analysis/Data entry for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project (MSCAP)

The bulk of my work here has been about collections management and ceramic analysis for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project. This project is a research and education program developed by the Stanford Archaeology Center, the Stanford University Department of Anthropology, History San Jose, Environmental Science Associates, and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. This project is fascinating to me because of the many communities involved with it.

My career in archaeology has been fun and fulfilling, to say the least, and I look forward to sharing many more experiences and also learning about yours! Feel free to find me at liminalanthropology.wordpress.com or on twitter @liminalANTH.

Thank you for reading and have an adventurous day!

A Day of Archaeologists

Much of archaeology, especially in academia, comes down to how you spend your summer vacation. After finishing up the first year of a PhD at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University, this summer I’ve been making the project circuit in Italy and Jordan, the latter as part of the Brown University Petra Archaeological Project.

Today was the day off for the team, and met with a slow start after a late night of football and dancing under the stars on the roof of the dig house (aka Club Sayhoun). Day off or no day off, five of us were up early and ready for a six hour hike to Jebel Harun, the grave of Aaron (Arabic: Harun), brother of Moses. And what a hike it was- you can all check out Allison’s post detailing just why visiting the tomb has been a pilgrimage for almost two thousand years. To add to her sparkling narrative would hardly do it justice, so instead I’m going to focus on the archaeologists with whom I spent the day hiking to the top of the known Petra world.

The hiking team (from left to right): Sarah Craft, Andrew Moore, Linda Gosner, and Allison Mickel

Crafty just finished up the fourth year of her PhD at the Joukowsky Institute. She researches pilgrimage sites in central Turkey, so was mixing business and ‘pleasure’ in hiking up what seemed like 10000m in 30+ degree desert sun. She’s also been a great friend in my first year at Brown in showing me both the school and the city, and will be sorely missed this coming year as she lives in Istanbul with a fellowship at the Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations.

I just met Andrew this year at Petra, where he’s working for the first time after finishing his MA at the University of Colorado Boulder. In the last week I’ve already discovered he has a wicked sense of humour and, after today, I also know the man is a beast when it comes to an intense hike. I’m sure there must be some goat blood in his family tree somewhere.

Linda is another Brown student, so I’ve had the chance to get to know her pretty well in the last year. Aside from a shared love of dance (NB- she can actually dance, and I cannot), and a mutual hope for a Spain win against Italy on Sunday, we’ve also spent the last year in classes and brushing up on Latin to varying degrees of success. If I wanted to embarrass us both, I’d post the video of us re-enacting the opening scenes of the Lion King on the mountain today. I think this time discretion is the better part of valor.

Allison is another person I’ve had the good fortune to meet this season at Petra, and has just finished up her first year of a PhD at Stanford. We’ve already had some great chats about communicating archaeology to the public. I don’t know how she made it up the mountain after a serious bout of sickness yesterday, but after some strategic shady stops, a lot of water, and even more stairs we emerged victorious to greet the others and have some lunch.

Exhausted. A pilgrimage really is all about the journey.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of the discussion of archaeology focusses on the archaeology itself- on the site, the materials, the landscape, the archive, the publication. But at least to me, the personal interactions on days like today leave a more lasting impression. Meeting and developing friendships with these people- the archaeologists, my peers- is the thing that is ultimately the most rewarding aspect of a career in archaeology. I’m looking forward to similar days of archaeological pilgrimage, both in the rest of my season with BUPAP and in the future.