Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Future and Current Archaeology Students

Shad Valley Flintknapping Demonstration
Yesterday, I had a chance to work with a dozen high school students from across Canada who are visiting Memorial University of Newfoundland for 4 weeks as part of the Shad Valley summer enrichment program.  The students will spend the month of July living and learning on the campus, getting immersive introductions to many of the departments and opportunities offered at each of the participating universities.  It seems like a pretty cool way to give students in Grade 10,11, and 12 a jump start on planning their academic path..

Tossing darts with an Atlatl (in the rain)
Some of the students participating in the program at MUN were given an introduction to Archaeology yesterday afternoon.  Joy Hopley organized a pretty fun programme for them which included a 45 minute talk introducing archaeology, a flintknapping demonstration and atlatl toss.  Joy gave the introductory talk, I brought in a bunch of reproductions and did the flintknapping demo and two grad students in the Archaeology Department, Josh and Eric, provided the atlatls and instruction.  I think the students had a good time, I know I certainly enjoyed it.

A classroom introduction to archaeology
Maybe some of those students will catch the bug and make their way onto an archaeology field school in a few years.  Not all archaeology is done in the field, but almost everything that we study was originally excavated and collected by a field archaeologist.  A practical understanding of fieldwork is a big benefit to any archaeology student, regardless of their intended career path. Whether or not a field school is required by your school to graduate, it will certainly give you an advantage when employers are deciding who to hire.  (In fact, on my way in to set up yesterday, there was literally an archaeologist roaming the hallways in the department looking for someone with field experience to hire for a week.)

Amanda Crompton is currently leading Memorial University of Newfoundland's archaeology field school on an historic military site at the top of Signal Hill in St. John's.  You can tune in for her updates from the field on the project blog; Archaeology at Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Canada.  This is the third year that the field school has been on Signal Hill and its the second year that Amanda, her students, and staff have been keeping the blog, so there is already a lot of fascinating content online from their previous work.  And, of course, if you visit Signal Hill this month you can check out their progress in person.

Photo Credits:
1: Joy Hopley
2-3: Tim Rast
4: Screen capture from Archaeology at Signal Hill, Newfoundland, Canada

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