It’s 5:00am here at my house in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. The baby is sleeping, the house is blissfully quiet, and the first pot of coffee is on. I sit at my computer and begin work on updating an archaeology website I’ve been maintaining in one form or another for the past 16 years. This early morning ritual of job postings to archaeologyfieldwork.com is well-known amongst my colleagues (and the poor souls I’ve had to share a hotel room with on projects).
I’ve been working as a field archaeologist longer than the website has been up, but over the past few years, my employment has been sporadic. I have two young children, and I can count the archaeology projects on one hand that I’ve participated in since becoming a mom. Being a field archaeologist and working within cultural resource management in the U.S. usually means a life of travel. In the past, a new archaeology project may have found me in Frostproof, FL, Wilmington, DE, or Penn Yan, NY. Quite often a phone call was received on a Thursday or Friday with the news that I would be somewhere across the state, or several states away on Monday morning. I used to spend so much time on the road that I rarely bothered to unpack my truck. Once I went nearly 5 months without seeing my apartment.
Fieldwork for me is on hold for the time being, and I must be content with running archaeologyfieldwork.com. The most popular part of the website is the forum for daily employment postings. Sometimes employers come to the site and post their own jobs, and often they are mailed to me to post on their behalf. However, the bulk of job adverts are forwarded from elsewhere on the internet. Each morning and throughout the day as time allows, I laboriously search employment aggregators, government websites, archaeology groups, company websites, e-lists, RSS feeds, and have mastered the art of incredibly targeted Googling. On a good day I’m able to find 20 or 30 new jobs, and on a slow day or a holiday weekend it may only be a few. Through the years I’d guess that tens of thousands of job adverts have been posted to archaeologyfieldwork.com. In a way, finding and sharing this information appeals to the archaeologist part of me that I’m still reluctant to give up.
Once you get archaeology in your blood and find yourself doing something else (whether it’s an office job, or being a stay at home mom), you miss it like crazy. I look forward to the day when a local archaeology position may manifest, or the kids are old enough and I may have the opportunity to be a shovelbum once again. In the meantime, running archaeologyfieldwork.com helps me to feel connected to the archaeology community. I’m not actively “doing archaeology” on a daily basis and getting my hands dirty, but by running the website I feel like I’m giving something back to my colleagues. The truth is, archaeologyfieldwork.com is helping me as much as it is helping others, and without this connection to the world of archaeology I would probably miss it even more.
I still have my archaeology dig kit in the closet, though. Hopefully it won’t be gathering dust for too long.