I am currently a second year undergraduate student at the University of New England (UNE) in New South Wales, Australia. I’m studying a Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Archaeology and History.
I had planned to visit a local site on the Day of Archaeology, however poor weather on the day (and for much of the week before) prevented this from happening. Instead, much of my Day of Archaeology revolved around my studies. This included catching up on recorded lectures for some of my classes; completing an online quiz about historical archaeology; and making more notes for an upcoming history essay comparing memorials of the First and Second World Wars and the Vietnam War. Studying via distance (i.e., online) meant all of this was done in the comfort of my own home.
Recently I have been involved in a project called the ‘Digital Air Force’ for the website, AviationHeritage.org, whose goal is to digitally document Australia’s aviation heritage using modern technology. Part of this includes 3D scanning artefacts related to aviation heritage. So on the Day of Archaeology I started work on creating a digital 3D model of a small piece of metal from a Second World War aircraft crash site (see bottom of Figure 1). In a nutshell, this process – known as ‘photogrammetry’ – requires a lot of photos of an object to be taken from all angles. These photos are then loaded into a computer program which determines the angle and distance at which each photo was taken, builds a model of the object, then stitches the images together to form the textures of the object. This is a process I learnt about at an archaeology conference last year and have been experimenting with in my own time. The first part of this model was created overnight and resulted in what is known as a ‘dense point cloud’ of the scanned object (see Figure 2, below). At the moment this still needs quite a lot of work done to remove the surrounding items which were captured, clean up parts of the artefact itself, and join ‘chunks’ to form a complete model but it is hoped this will be completed over the weekend.
Personally I became interested in archaeology (and palaeontology) at a very young age. I was however dissuaded from pursuing a career in either of those fields because of a perceived lack of money that would be made. Instead, I followed my uncle into the I.T. industry, completing a Bachelor of Information Technology degree then working with a variety of systems for about ten years. It was at this time that I felt I had to change careers and decided to formally study archaeology, which today I feel is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
(P.S. July 29th was also my birthday, hence the greeting card from an archaeologist friend which can be seen in Figure 1).
This is my third year of doing this. In the previous years I had wrote about the desire to go back to school and then when I actually went back. On June 26, 2015, I graduated from my community college, Foothill College, with double honors, two Anthropology certificates, and my AA in Anthropology. This was a huge accomplishment for me because I am a mother of five and my (soon-to-be-ex-) husband recently left my children and I out of the blue… and homeless (my parents have been kind enough to allow us to stay with them until I can find a place of my own, which I’m hoping will be soon). To say things have been easy is a huge understatement. I will begin work on my BA in January 2016. The original plan was to begin in August 2015, but some things have come up that are preventing me to do that, so January it is.
I may not have any exciting stories to tell yet but I am sure as I move on to my BA and things get going –maybe even some volunteer work thrown in there- I’ll eventually have stories to tell. But for now, I leave you with this: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!!!! Don’t let anything stand in your way. Hard work DOES pay off! And if you are a parent… don’t be discouraged in thinking that you can’t be a parent and a student, it IS possible and doable!
There are all kinds of contributors to the day of arch and I feel extremely proud to be one of them. This is just an introduction to me and setting the scene for what I will actually be doing tomorrow. My name is Rachael Reader and I am currently writing up my PhD thesis, hopefully handing in within the next three months. My interest in archaeology began when I was eight (no, really!) when I was introduced to Time Team. It seems a little cliched, but it is the God honest truth! My parents were more than happy to fuel my interest and let me dig up the back garden of my house in a little town, just outside of Barnsley (my best find to date is a 1980s ten pence piece…). My parents found out where digs were happening and took me along to them, including one in York where I learnt the real truth about archaeology. I had an illuminating conversation with someone working in the museum gardens who told me that archaeology was poorly paid, nothing like Time Team and definitely nothing like Indiana Jones (which meant little to me as even to this day, as I have still not seen the films!). I asked the archaeologist why they still did it and they replied simply “because I love it”. The enthusiasm he had, even when describing the negatives, sealed it for me and off I went to university to pursue my career. I studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University before doing my Masters at Cardiff, where I developed my current research interests in the later prehistoric period and particularly, the landscape approach to archaeology.
Whilst writing my Masters thesis I was pondering over what to do next. I had spent several weeks here and there, excavating with the University but also community digs, including SHARP at Sedgeford in Norfolk. I loved digging but had yet to know how commercial archaeology worked, so I began putting my CV together and waiting for jobs to come up at units. However my supervisor directed me to an advert for a PhD position, at Bradford University and it involved two of my favourite things: Iron Age stuff and landscape! I could not resist and I eagerly put together my application, was offered an interview and ultimately the position, which I was thrilled to accept. I began my current position in October 2008 and I feel a little sad that I am beginning to wind down and *gulp* hand in.