Women in Archaeology Podcast

Podcasting Archaeology or Why to Communicate Archaeology via the Internet.

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What started as a vanity project, a blog where I could vent my thoughts on psuedoarchaeology, has blossomed into a multi-bloomed flower of sorts. Each blossom requiring attention, and each one being as satisfying as the last. I’m talking about podcasting, of course.

Media, and the use of newer forms of media; podcasting, YouTube, twitter, Facebook, etc, is a weakness of Archaeology. Even with the influx of younger archaeologists into the field, those who should be more comfortable and accepting of digital media, it still seems to escape us as archaeologists. What is it? How does it work? What do we do with it?

When Chris Webster and Tristan Boyle launched the Archaeology Podcast Network (APN) back in late 2014, there were only about three (maybe 4) archaeology podcasts on the digital air. None of them were really aware of each other, and frankly, most people didn’t even know they existed at all. Today the APN has 15 shows covering topics ranging from broad topics like CRM archaeology, technology in the field, terms, techniques and concepts, to specific topics like women in archaeology, debunking psuedoarchaeology, Caribbean archaeology, and archaeogaming. If you consider that the APN isn’t even two yet, 15 shows is quite the achievement.

These shows attempt to educate and inform as well as entertain. They reach out to the archaeological community, trying to connect archaeologists together, and at the same time, reach out to the public and help them understand what it is we do. This is done with both female and male voices, both field and academically employed. It’s Archaeology for everyone, as Chris once put it, and it’s very effective at communicating.

So why are there not more shows out there? Why don’t were hear one from every University that has an archaeology program? Why isn’t there one for every sub-field of archaeology? One for every professional organization (I’m looking at you SAA)? One for every conference? We need to communicate with each other and with the public, so why aren’t we using this medium to do so?

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Maybe some of it has to do with the perceived cost in money and in time. I assure you, this need not be a barrier. You can record a decent enough podcast in a quiet room with a laptop and free recording software like Audacity or Garage-band. You don’t even need an external mic, though sitting close to the computer is necessary.  If you want to up your game a bit you can buy a cheep recording mic, and most of them are good as well as affordable. Simple soundproofing can be achieved with a large cardboard box and towels. Only the pros go all in and get the big mics and the soundproof rooms, but hey, if you’ve got the budget, go for it.

Time is another story. How long your finished show is, will determine how long you’ll need to record. In my experience you should add 30 min to whatever the final show length is for recording. So an hour long show requires a minimum of an hour and a half to record. Editing can take a bit too depending on how familiar you are with the software, and how much you care about um’s, ah’s, and long pauses. Honestly, editing can be a time suck, but it’s worth it to hear your finished piece. Still, this is not as much time as you would think, unless you’re a procrastinator, and then I can’t help you.

So with time and money out of the equation, why are there not more shows? Some people just don’t want to do it, which is fine on an individual level, but when we get to the Professional and University level, this is less of a realistic excuse. Part of doing archaeology is making it accessible, and podcasting makes it accessible. This isn’t even the Open Access argument that grates on a lot of professionals and academics. I’m not asking you to talk about sensitive material, just talk about what you do, how you do it, and why it’s important. If it’s interesting, people will listen, and they wont care that your audio quality is crappy, or that your intro music is midi, or that you only publish once a month.


Which leaves me with, suspicion and the avoidance of being vulnerable. Archaeologists seem to tend to be suspicious of new things. Even I am times, but we have to push past that. I see it happening every day, with the new influx of young archaeologists who are accustomed to social media and digital media. When I joined Twitter back in 2009, I looked for every archaeologist I could find on twitter to add to my feed. I had about 20. In the whole world of twitter in 2009 there were 20ish archaeologists using it, and most of us didn’t have a clue what we were using it for. We did it anyway and we figured it out, and today, there are more archaeology twitter accounts than I can ever hope to follow sending me updates and pictures and artifact id challenges and blogs, etc. So if we can accept Twitter et al, why can we not make more podcasts (or even videos)?

I think some of it has to do with the avoidance of being vulnerable many professionals have. Making a recording, in real time, has the potential to catch a movement of vulnerability. A mistake, a misspoken word, the wrong date or term, an embarrassing laugh, an uncomfortable question. It’s called being human and mistakes will be made. Yet somehow we’ve become petrified at the idea of being caught being wrong, and instead of just saying “oops” and either fixing it or apologizing for it, we’d rather not even try. This causes lots of problems, one of which is being seen as aloof and unapproachable to the public, and thereby being invisible.

Some will tell me that they are afraid of being taken out of context. Well let  me tell you a thing. I’ve been working with pseudoarchaeology and the fringe for almost a decade now. It doesn’t matter what you say, how you say it, or even IF you say it. You will be taken out of context by someone at some time and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. So instead of hiding, come on out here and make create something informative and educational.

Podcasting is fun, it’s refreshing to connect with others, and talk about shared topics with peers. It creates a medium that is being embraced by more and more people as technology advances. It can be quick and informative, long and educational, and interesting at either length. It’s one of the best ways to communicate with the public, and it’s accessible to most people. Pretty much anyone with the internet or a phone can hear your podcast these days, making it one of the best ways to educate and inform. Recording software is free, hosting sites like Sound-cloud are free, Or you can join forces with the APN and make an ever bigger, better Archaeology Podcast Network. The benefit to this would be access to people who are already using podcasting as a way to communicate (and maybe edit). So basically, there is no cost to this beyond time, and lets face it, you’re probably supposed to be reaching out to the public anyway, why not make a lasting impression with a podcast that will live forever on the internet?

Join the podcasting revolution and spread Archaeology to the public, one show at a time.


Random Musings While Surveying 75 Miles in 8 Days – Women in the Field of Archaeology

*Note: I am posting this for a friend out in the field.*

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By Emily M. Long

All undergraduate archaeology theory courses briefly cover the introduction of a feminist lens in archaeological interpretation, with it typically tied in with post-modernism and post-processualism. Numerous articles and books outline the importance of looking beyond gendered perspectives (i.e. it’s unlikely that only men knew how to create stone tools, etc.). What is not covered in—or at least does not appear to be— academic courses and beyond is the need for the mere presence of women in the field, in the actual practice of archaeology. Multiple viewpoints are a good thing. As a post-processual/processual- plus archaeologist (yes, I’m one of those archaeologists), I’m all for varying interpretations of the archaeological record (within reason).

However, are we actually seeing this happening in the field? In my, albeit short, career as an archaeologist, it is not unusual for me to be the only female archaeologist in a Federal agency office or on a CRM crew. Why?

Obviously, the Women in Archaeology blog and podcast indicate that we are out there, but is it enough of a presence? There could be any number of reasons why I tend to be the lone wolf. It could be regional. There could be more women in office-bound/higher- up positions, so I simply don’t see them in the field. And yet, as woman in her early 30s, I just don’t see very many women in my age group and up directly in the field. I remember there were far more women than men studying archaeology at my college. I remember there were far more women than men at my field school. I remember there were only female interns at the various archaeology internships in which I participated. So, where are they now?

I recently read Charles J. Peliska’s ‘Results of a Survey for Field Archaeologists/Cultural Managers’ for an episode of the Women in Archaeology Podcast. I highly recommend checking it out, as it gives some insight into how we’re being paid, what the job market looks like, issues of discrimination, etc. There were two things that particularly struck me: 1) the decrease of archaeologists in their 40s and up, and 2) the relatively high rate of those who have witnessed or were the victim of sexual harassment.

Addressing age, Peliska notes that the physicality and inconsistency of our work can cause archaeologists to shift careers. Furthermore, since many of the current positions in CRM and at Federal agencies tend to be seasonal, health insurance, retirement plans, and maternity leave are typically not provided. After a certain age, you have to start thinking about the future. With a busted knee, I know I need to consider what the future holds in store for me (i.e. employment with healthcare). I do wonder if the absence of older archaeologists working in the field may have a connection to the lack of childcare offered. You can’t exactly strap a child to your back while surveying. What needs to change to better support field archaeologists in order to keep them in the field?

As for sexual harassment, sadly, I’m not too surprised at the high rate of incidents witnessed or experienced. Of the 479 survey participants, 60.9% had seen/heard sexual jokes but no one seemed openly uncomfortable, and 30.3% had witnessed or been the victim of jokes or teasing of a sexual nature. Harassment and sexual discrimination can come in a variety of forms, some of which may seem harmless at the time. I find that ‘casual sexism’ is far more prevalent than overt sexism—at least in my experience. For example, I was the assistant crew chief for a large-scale project in which the crew chiefs were changed each session. One of these crew chiefs would only ask my male coworker for project information, assistance with equipment, etc. He would have been mortified if I said he was being sexist, but his actions said otherwise. Has casual to overt sexism made it such a difficult work environment that women tend to veer away from field jobs at a certain point?

So, here are some questions to end this stream of conscious-esque article:

1. How does fieldwork need to change?

2. How do we encourage more women to work in the field?

3. What needs to change to make the practice of archaeology a more welcoming environment?

4. How can we, as a community of archaeologists, create a zero tolerance policy for all kinds of harassment?

5. In what ways can Federal agencies and CRM companies provide support to archaeologists with families?

6. How can archaeology societies/organizations better approach issues of discrimination and harassment?


Works Cited:

Peliska, Charles J.

2016 Results of A Survey for Field Archaeologists/Cultural Resource Managers. Electronic document, https://docs.google.com/document/d/15v_MIeKg3VOEPUYsU-ZbOvbrvOZSlGu1GtRGmwnFBv0/pub, accessed May 27, 2016.

A Letter From the Field (sort of)

*Note: I’m posting for a friend who is out of internet range this Day of Arch. *

Hi there!

I’m so glad you could join us for Day of Archaeology 2016. My name is Chelsi Slotten and I am a current PhD student at American University, as well as a cohost on the Women in Archaeology Podcast. I’m writing this a couple weeks before the Day of Archaeology on my way into the field since I will be excavating in Northern Canada on July 29th. I will be participating in an expedition run by Dr. William Fitzhugh from the Smithsonian Institution. This is of course assuming that the weather is cooperating and we don’t get stuck anywhere as a result of rough seas.

As much as I am looking forward to the expedition itself, and hoping for cooperative weather gods, it takes a lot of effort to plan for and get into the field. It will take us 2 solid days driving, an 8-hour ferry ride and 3 full days on a boat to get where we are going. As I am writing this, we are currently driving though Maine on our way to the boat we will be living on for the next month. One of our favorite topics so far is the important historical and archaeological sites along our route. Maine is the location of the Maine Maritime Archaic tradition, as first discovered by Warren K. Moorehead in the 1920’s. The burials in Maine are referred to as the Moorehead complex for that reason. The Maritime Archaic tradition was famous for “red paint” cemeteries. These cemeteries are identifiable by the layer of red ochre paint that was sprinkled over bodies and tools in burials. These days no bones remain in the Maine cemeteries, as the soil is too acidic to preserve bone. Following this discovery in Maine, similar sites were found first in Newfoundland by Dr. James Tuck in the 1970’s and then in Labrador by William Fitzhugh. Clearly the burial tradition was wide-spread.

While no bones had survived in Maine or Labrador, the soil in Newfoundland is more conducive to bone preservation, so there were skeletal remains found there. The wide geographical spread of this burial custom helped to explain some of the artifacts that Moorehead found in the 20’s. While the burials contained no skeletal remains, many of the stone tools did survive. Many of the tools were made out of a stone called Ramah Chert, a beautiful translucent type of chert found up in Labrador, Canada. When the tools were first found, no one was sure where the stone had originated from. Decades later, that question was answered when the source of that stone was located in Labrador.

While there are similarities between these three geographical locations- similar burial traditions, use of the same type of stone for tools and evidence of trade- they are not identical. Rather, the cultural traditions should be thought of as 3 subgroups- one each in Maine, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Later work by Dr. William Fitzhugh revealed that the Maritime Archaic tradition in Labrador lived in longhouses, some up to 100 meters long. The tradition included ritual hunting of large sea mammals and even, in Maine, of swordfish with antler harpoons and slate spears. The swordfish bills were often used as daggers and knives. They also hunted caribou, seals and walrus for survival.

This summer we will continue working on Maritime Archaic sites, particularly in Groswater Bay, Labrador. If you are interested in learning more about the red ochre cemeteries, Dr. Fitzhugh was the principle archaeologist in a film on the subject called “Mystery of the Lost Red Paint People” by Ted Timrek.

Here’s hoping for a great field season and some interesting new discoveries!

Adventure Awaits!