Social Media

Somewhere Between Social Media Officer and Archaeologist

Over a decade ago, I sat down to choose my A Levels. At the time, Hereford Sixth Form College was one of nine colleges in the country that offered Archaeology. Having always been interested in history and Time Team, this seemed like an interesting option. So I took it.

Little did I know that I was embarking on my future career that would take me all over the world, challenge the way I thought about people in the past (and people in the present!), set me on the path to becoming a Doctor, and lead me to…

A desk in Cardiff.

From PhD Student to Intern

Okay, so that might seem anticlimactic, but I am currently on an internship with the History and Archaeology department at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum of Wales, which is incredibly exciting. My role in the museum varies on an almost hourly basis, but my typical day can be broken down into a series of coffee breaks, intermitted with serious contemplations that I should tidy my desk.

My desk on a good day

Interestingly enough almost my entire day has been taken over by Day of Archaeology and/or Festival of British Archaeology. I foolishly suggested a couple of weeks ago that as a department, we should contribute something to Day of Archaeology to compliment the various activities we’ve had going on all week. This somewhat spiralled out of control as members of other departments, including botany, photography and natural sciences, all expressed interest in contributing a piece and soon I found myself coordinating about nine/ten different blog posts, including manipulating images and Welsh translations, while juggling three Twitter accounts simultaneously.

Perhaps at this point some might consider me more of a Social Media Officer than an Archaeologist! But communication of research and ongoing projects is increasingly becoming an essential part of what archaeology has to entail.

10.45am is coffee time as an essential standard, where people from different departments and specialisms come together to share their projects, expertise and general gossip. As it’s Festival of British Archaeology, mine was cut short to help with a Behind-the-Scenes talk by Dr. Elizabeth Walker and photograph activities in the main hall. I’ve been helping with various talks, walks and exhibits throughout this week, ranging from identifying Celtic coins to building skeletons in under three minutes; today it was extinct cave animals and Medieval tiles!

A Medieval Tile collage created by kids today

Engaging members of the public with extinct Palaeolithic cave animals (one Bronze Age auroch!)

In amongst the various blogging and tweeting, I spent my in-between time uploading Treasure Reports onto the PAS website and researching Early Bronze Age axeheads in preparation for a meeting I have at the start of next week. There’s nothing too exciting so far about this latter project, but my research will lead to an in-depth handling and analysis of the objects in question in order to understand more about what we can understand about Bronze Age society from these objects. This is essentially what archaeology is all about.

Studying Bronze Age flat axes

As I write this, my day is still not over. I currently sit crammed onto a Cross Country train on my journey home to Cornwall procrastinating from the PhD work I know I still have to do. So I will turn my attention from broken links to broken objects, from the Modern Age to the Bronze Age, and from objects databases to… well, different object databases.

Fortunately for me, every day is a Day of Archaeology – and I wouldn’t change that.

Diwrnod ym mywyd Archaeolegydd preswyl

Rydw i wedi bod ar leoliad gwaith gydag Amgueddfa Cymru yng Nghaerdydd am y ddau fis diwethaf. Roedd hyn yn rhannol fel profiad gwaith, ond hefyd yn saib o brysurdeb y cwrs PHD yn astudio metelwaith yr Oes Efydd.

Dechrau delfrydol i ddiwrnod cyffredin yn yr Amgueddfa – paned!

Does na ddim diwrnod cyffredin – un o’r pethau gwych am weithio fel archaeolegydd ac mewn amgueddfa yw gorfod ymateb i bethau wrth iddyn nhw ddigwydd! Yr wythnos diwethaf, roeddwn i’n ysgrifennu adroddiad ar gelc o’r Oes Efydd; ddoe roeddwn i’n pori drwy archif cloddfa anheddiad Canoloesol; heddiw rydw i’n gwneud gwaith ymgysylltu cyhoeddus a cyfryngau cymdeithasol ar gyfer yr adran Archaeoleg. Pwy a ŵyr beth fydda i’n ei wneud wythnos nesaf?!

Yr amrywiaeth yma oedd un o’r pethau a ddenodd fi at archaeoleg. Dim ond un elfen yw’r gwaith cloddio a darganfod pethau newydd. Mae gwaith ymchwil, dadansoddi, curadu, cadwraeth, darlunio, ymgysylltu a llawer mwy i’w wneud hefyd.

Fy nesg, a’r rhestr o brojectau i’w cyflawni

Mae fy nghyfnod yn yr Amgueddfa yn fy helpu i ddeall yr holl agweddau yma, ac rwy’n lwcus i weithio gyda phobl mor groesawgar gydag amrywiaeth o arbenigedd. Mae pob sgwrs yn gyfle i ddysgu, ac mae archaeoleg yn fy herio yn barhaus. O gywain basau data ar aur hynafol, i ludo crochenwaith at ei gilydd – mae fy niwrnod cyffredin wastad yn ddiddorol.

Rhai o’r deunyddiau yr ydw i wedi bod yn gweithio gyda nhw

Ac ar y nodyn hwnnw, mae’n rhaid i fi fynd i helpu gyda thaith tu ôl i’r llenni ar anifeiliaid darfodedig Cymru!


A Day in the Life of an Archaeology Intern

This post is also available in Welsh here.

For the last two months I’ve been on a placement with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in Cardiff. This has served partly as work experience, and partly as a break from my PhD avidly studying Bronze Age metalwork.

A typical day at the museum begins as any good day should: with a cup of tea!

There’s no one thing I do on a standard day – part of the beauty of working in archaeology and in a museum is that you have to respond to whatever is going on at that time! Last week I was writing up a report for a Bronze Age hoard, yesterday I sifted through an excavation archive for a Medieval settlement, today I’m focusing on public outreach and social media for the History and Archaeology department, and next week… who knows!

This eclectic mix is part of what drew me to archaeology. Digging and discovering new things is only one element of the story. Beyond that there’s research, analysis, curation, conservation, illustration, outreach, and so much more.

My list of ongoing projects sits proudly on my desk

My time at the museum is helping me understand all these different facets and I’m lucky to be working with such a great bunch of people with a range of specialisms. Every conversation is a learning opportunity, and archaeology constantly challenges me. So whether it’s compiling databases of ancient gold, or sticking pots back together, my average day is never dull.

Some of the material I’ve been working on

And on that note, I now have to go help out with a behind-the-scenes talk on extinct animals in Wales!


Archaeological Analytics for American Archaeology

Archaeological Analytics Logo


Making North American Archaeology Googleable … 
and Shareable…. and Tweetable… and Pinable!


What is Archaeological Analytics?

Archaeological Analytics promotes public outreach on the web and social media for Archaeologists in the U.S. and Canada. Our goal is to turn our experiences into trending topics and shareable content. Hey- if a cute dog can have over a million Instagram followers,  SO CAN ARCHAEOLOGISTS!

Turning Archaeology into a Social Phenomenon

That’s easy… sort of! We know that managing websites, blogs, and a Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest page is a lot work… IF YOU WANT IT TO WORK FOR YOU. Web platforms are great tools for archaeologists to interact with the public at large. For example, a single post can reach thousands of people within a few hours. But, getting that kind of traffic depends on what your post, how often you post, when you post, etc.

You Photograph It, We’ll Make it “Googleable”

Archaeological Analytics created platforms for Archaeologists to share IMAGES of artifacts!  Images, in contrast to reports or academic articles, have higher ranking in Google searches and are one of the most shared formats in social media. Follow American Artifacts Blog for daily features of recently excavated artifacts. If you’re a professional, student or researcher, subscribe to Open Artifact and learn more about North American material culture through open access collections, forums and analysis guides.

Support North American Archaeology

Click the images below to learn more about our work at Archaeological Analytics. FOLLOW US on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Archaeological AnalyticsOpen ArtifactAmerican Artifacts Blog

Activism, Equality, and Social Media…

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Equality and Diversity Group banner


I’m struggling to believe that Day of Archaeology has come around again. This time around I have a confession; I no longer work in Archaeology professionally. I can’t even claim a tangible link as I used to. The closest link I can claim is that I work within the museum/tourism industry – I work in tourism at a heritage site (very loosely). I was really struggling to think of what I could discuss for this year’s Day of Archaeology; certainly nothing in my day job.

Thankfully, I didn’t fully leave archaeology – I’ve “kept a toe” in the industry. In particular I’ve become involved in promoting equality in archaeology and advocating wider diversity within the profession. The CIfA’s 2012-13’s Profiling the Profession showed archaeology was a predominantly white, male orientated discipline. Just over half are male (and most of these hold the more senior positions), 99% are white, and 98% do not consider themselves to have a disability. I’ve always personally viewed archaeology as a traditionally, “left wing, accepting” discipline however recent realisations have shattered my rose-tinted spectacles. I’m committed to making a change; to improve the industry I originally worked in and still love.


Archaeology and Twitter…

One method of making a difference is communication; raising awareness that there is a problem and discussing ways we can bring about positive change. Whether you like it or loathe it, social media is seemingly here to stay, and it appears as though isn’t going away. It’s a great way of reaching thousands of people very quickly though regular updates, blogs, and specific social media events using specific hashtags (such as #dayofarch). I’m directly involved with two projects/organisations: the Every DIG Sexism project (based on the Everyday Sexism Project), which aims to highlight sexism in archaeology but also champion good practice. Secondly I’m one of the communications officers for the CIfA’s Equality and Diversity Group. We aim to continually assess barriers to equality and diversity within the profession by researching, supporting, and developing best practice strategies for challenging inequality (particularly areas relating to gender, ethnicity, sexuality and disability).

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Equality and Diversity Group Logo

I don’t know if whoever is reading this has ever had the displeasure of using multiple twitter accounts simultaneously. If you haven’t, it’s really tricky.


But sometimes a twitter event arrises, you send a couple of tweets, and before you know it, it’s 7pm and you’ve spent the entire day tweeting so much you’ve lost all concept of time, and which account you’re currently using! A recent example of this was #queermuseum Day – which discussed representation of LGBT+ communities in museum collections. After a few minutes into the day, my work station looked something like this:


My computer during a Twitter campaign....

My computer during a Twitter campaign….

I’ve never been more thrilled to have multiple screens – you need it when you’re tweeting from so many accounts…!


Surely this isn’t archaeology…? 

People still scoff when you say you mainly do archaeology on social media nowadays. After all, archaeology is about the stuff you can see, stuff you touch, stuff that has been dug out of the ground. To me, archaeology is simply; the study of the human past through what is left of material remains. This can come in the form of ceramics, ditches, burials and things traditionally dug out of the ground. It can come in the form of objects that are thousands of years old, that have been newly discovered, that haven’t been touched for centuries. This can also mean things that happened a few moments ago; the sweet wrapper on the floor, the remnants and litter of a protest; the stratigraphy of graffiti on a wall, or the tweets and discussions on social media.

Anything that has been used, touched, or changed by humans, regardless of when this happened, is archaeology. The other, perhaps less abstract idea of social media is that it’s a great communication tool. It’s a great way of reaching people – the #queermuseum hashtag was one of the top trends in the UK, which involved and reached a wide ranging group of people.

So my day in archaeology? This year it was spent on twitter, talking about #QueerMuseums, trying to diversify the heritage industry. It was spent educating people on how diverse our heritage actually is. It was spent trying to improve archaeology as profession. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re on the right path….

For more information on the Equality and Diversity Group:

Visit our website:

Visit our Twitter: @CIfA_Equality

For more information on the Every DIG Sexism Project:

Visit our website:

Visit our Twitter: @everyDIGsexism

Computer (arm)chair archaeology

Would you be surprised to learn there are archaeologists who don’t step foot in the field to do their work? *raises hand* I’m one of those archaeologists. Modern technology has added a positive side to what it means to be an armchair archaeologist and I, for one, am thankful.

While my fellow grad students are packing up their trowels, screens and Total Stations, I’m double-checking my Internet connection, booting up Hootsuite and checking my “public archaeology” Google Alert. You see, nearly all of my archaeological work and research is based in the Web. Instead of working in the field and making my own archaeological discoveries, I want to communicate the amazing work other archaeologists do to non-archaeologists.

I will admit, I get jealous of my friends who do amazing things like spend their summers working with Alaska Natives to record sites impacted by climate change. However, I rest easy at night knowing that when they return, I can help folks effectively share with the world the neato frito stuff they’ve done.

A day in my life as an archaeologist includes a variety of projects and tasks. In between looking at hilarious Buzzfeed listsicles I read up on useful ways we can use social media to communicate with people. I also try to share interesting archaeological news on the Archaeology Roadshow Facebook page or help manage the Society for American Archaeology’s Public Archaeology Interest Group Facebook group.

I also spend a lot of time looking at archaeology websites and trying to systematically study and evaluate them. My goal is to develop a manageable way archaeologists can assess their own websites to make sure they the best they can be. With how easy it is for anyone to make a website or a social media account it is critical to learn how to use those tools well. That’s what I want to help with. *fist pump*

My work may not seem as exciting as those fighting off insects in South America or folks who make an intense backcountry hike to reach their sites. But hey, I may get carpal tunnel!

If you want to learn more about public archaeology, follow the #pubarch hashtag on Twitter. There are also public archaeology groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’d also love to talk with you about public archaeology, digital archaeology, communication strategy, and hilarious gifs – let’s chat on Twitter!

Archaeology in the margins

Some days, archaeology only creeps into the margins of one’s day or one’s plans. It might be in one’s social media “feeds” or compilations of news tidbits; it might be in “calls for proposals,” conference announcements, or correspondences with fellow archaeologists.

Today for instance, my immersion within pure archaeological bounds/boundaries was quite minimalist, not necessarily by design, but rather, because that’s how some things play out.

In one regard, that frustrates me, especially when hearing and seeing what is being done around the globe in investigation, lab work, preservation, conservation, education, etc. as it just feels as though I could and would want to do more, but it is something I accept the same too.

When I teach, it primarily is sociology, cultural anthropology, or nowadays, even biological anthropology (human evolution specifically); there just are not the archaeology courses left to teach. Even still, I keep the archaeology in the margins, mixing it in as examples relate, as questions correspond, or as it supports learning and increases engagement. I also informally educate K-12 students in informal workshops when I can, with mock dig boxes, pseudo-soil stratigraphy boxes (use paint chips as Munsell charts!) In that regard, the passion for archaeology is still there, but it is leveling out with my passions across all disciplines of anthropology, along with my work experiences as a more generalist, and as an anthropologist.

While I still read up on archaeology and keep current that way, I see myself and identify myself more as an anthropologist first rather than as an archaeologist, in part because it steers more away from “where/when was your last dig” or even, “how do you get a job in that” discourse. The archaeology identity is there, but like much of textual analysis and translation; it is more in the margins than sprawled across the daily or even the monthly calendar personally.

For that reason, although I blogged since the inception of Day of Archaeology in 2011, I think I am going to transition into reading the entries and in that way leave archaeological blogging in the margins. It has been an enjoyable time, and the more I get to know the bloggers, the more I know I will still have the means to relate and to exchange information, just like good marginalia notes do for translations and for deep textual analysis. I will forever support this international blogging cause, as I will always be an archaeologist at heart.

Spreading the Word about Archaeology in Illinois

My archaeological career began as a high school student participating in a field school at the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville, Illinois. Although my job responsibilities have changed over the years, my research interest still focuses on bioarchaeology and learning how people lived and died in the past. I have been working for almost 20 years at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey/Prairie Research Program at the University of Illinois.  Our organization has a long history with the Illinois Department of Transportation where we are responsible for conducting archaeological investigations prior to any type of road construction. During this time, I have had the opportunity to work with an amazing group of archaeologists who are dedicated to Illinois archaeology and site preservation.

In recent years I have become more involved in outreach and public engagement.  This is a very broad field and includes being involved with events such as ‘Archaeology Days’ at day camps, formal presentations to community groups, presenting research at professional conferences, and helping to organize events where we are able to share our knowledge with school groups and families as well as professional conferences.  In addition, we have recently made a push to disseminate information about Illinois archaeology through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and our website. Fortunately, I work with three other amazing people (Mike Lewis, Angie Patton, and Linda Alexander) and we are each able to focus on one aspect of the process (selecting images, posting in Facebook or Twitter) so that the task doesn’t become overwhelming. My days often consist of lots of emails, attending meetings, giving presentations, assisting researchers gather information, entering Facebook posts, as well as – occasionally- my own research projects in bioarchaeology.

from David Davis History Career Day Camp website

I feel strongly that one of our responsibilities as archaeologists is to give back to communities and teach them about archaeology and the importance of preserving the past- whether it is preserving the site materials or the site itself.  One area of my job that I particularly enjoy is when I can interact with children and teach them about archaeology. Earlier this week, a coworker of mine (Alli Huber) and I assisted the staff at the McClean County Museum of History for their Archaeology Day – part of their week-long History Careers Day Camp. This is a wonderful program where the campers (grades 4-6) learn about the importance of history and the different types of careers. On Archaeology Day, Alli and I met the counselors and campers at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois, where the day started with the campers learning about the history of the David Davis family and the mansion, discussing the close relationship between history and archaeology, and what we can learn from each area of study. The days’ activities included a tour of the historic Mansion with some inside activities as well as a mock dig outside where fragmentary historic material similar to the time period the Davis Mansion was occupied were buried in sand. In addition to teaching them the basics on how archaeologists excavate using maps, trowels, measuring tapes, collecting and sorting materials, they learned how artifacts can tell us important information about who lived at a site and what their life was like. The last part of the day each of the groups sort through the material they discovered in their excavations and answered questions about what the artifacts tell us about the people who used them.  Inevitably, all the campers are excited about what they learn on this day and several tell me that they want to be an archaeologist when they grow up. When I hear those words, I feel that I have succeeded in my goal to pass on my curiosity and appreciation of the past to the next generation.