Discovering fun through exhaustion, soreness and plenty of dirt

Discovering fun through exhaustion, soreness and plenty of dirt

Anthropology Field School

Life in the Dig '12

DeeAnne Wymer, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, and a group of BU students hit the road each spring in mid-May to spend four weeks in southern Ohio digging at a Hopewell habitation site.

The archeological field school experience enables student teams to rely on new imaging technologies to uncover another living site of the Mound Builders from 2,000 years ago.

The first five days of the SUNY Geneseo/Bloomsburg University archaeological field school in Ohio have been an incredible experience. Less than one week in, and it has already opened my eyes and my mind to new things. I never knew being exhausted, sore, and covered in dirt could be so much fun!

Our first day largely consisted of driving and getting settled in at our camp site. Up until this trip, I had quite literally never been camping in my life. The closest I previously came was spending one night in a tent in my backyard. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about how I would adjust to “roughing it.”

My fears were largely unfounded, as the simplicity of camp life only serves to highlight the lessons being taught every day.

We are digging in southern Ohio at important Hopewell site. We spent most of our second day being instructed in field methods. The importance of hands-on training cannot be underestimated. Some of the students here have taken classes in archaeological theory and methods, but nothing can compare to being out in the field doing the work yourself.

We have been instructed on terminology, test pits, soil types, laying in a grid, plan map, profiling and many more methods. These topics can be taught in a classroom, but to truly be understood you must do it yourself. They are unique skill sets that will be of great help not only in my anthropological future but in life overall.

Anthropology Field School After only five days, I’m amazed at how confident I am becoming with my archaeological skills.

We have been digging for only three days, yet have already had great success in our small tests pits. We have recovered a wide variety of artifacts in a encouragingly high number. We have found stone tools and pottery, as well as evidence of settlements.

It has also been wonderful to get to know other anthropology students from SUNY-Geneseo. The teaching assistants are all from Geneseo, in addition to the other students here. It is great to talk to other anthropology students and compare experiences. The vast majority of our conversations have been about anthropology in general or archaeology in particular. We all enjoy getting to know other future anthropologists and bonding over our shared interests.

Overall, this has already been an incredible experience. There have been several trips in my life that now seem like a dream, things that I can hardly believe actually happened. After only five days, this experience has been so surreal that I know in a month I will ask myself, “Did I really do that?”

    — Jessica Soroka, senior anthropology major