One of the greatest things we can experience as student archaeologists is the chance to share our enthusiasm with young students. Having been sucked into the world of archaeology ourselves, we delight in sharing the joys (and struggles) of it with anyone who might possibly be interested in joining us. This is an incredible discipline, full of interesting people and the potential for adventure, and if archaeology needs anything, it is more young enthusiasts to carry on the work.
So it is with great pleasure that we post some of our responses to student questions, in the hopes that we can help share our excitement.
Name: Sarah Hawley
1. What is your title at USC? Archaeology major is about the only title I have, although I am president of the Society of Trojan Archaeologists.
2. What is your area of expertise? Most of my experience is in Near Eastern archaeology, specifically in Turkey. My personal research focuses on terracotta figurines from a Turkish site.
3. When and where was your last dig? I went to Alalakh Excavations last summer from June to August to survey, excavate, and illustrate pottery. The site is located in southern Turkey near Antakya.
4. How long have you been an archaeologist? Since August 2008, when I took my first archaeology course at USC.
5. Why did you become an archaeologist? I didn’t know what to choose as my major. Archaeology had always interested me, so I signed up for a class and was instantly addicted.
6. Describe your most exciting day as an archaeologist. Probably my first day excavating in Tarapaca Valley, Chile. I had no idea how to hold the trowel or what to do. The first thing I scraped out of the ground was a tiny piece of a stick, and I was convinced it was tremendously significant and the most fabulous stick in existence. On that same excavation, I dug up a 1,000 year old mouse corpse, which terrified me when it popped out of the ground. Maybe that was a little more exciting.
7. Describe your average day. On excavation, the schedule is grueling. Wake up at 4:30, start excavation at 5:30, lunch at 1:30, nap until 4:30, lab work until 7:00. During the school year my schedule is much more normal, and I sleep as much as I can!
8. What is the most important thing to remember when doing archaeology? I think it’s most important to remember the people behind the objects we discover. Someone lived in those mudbrick houses once, or made that pot. We don’t dig for our own prestige–we dig to uncover the truth about the past and to better understand the people who have come before us.
9. Why is archaeology important? We learn about human systems of trade, economics, politics, and art. We discover parallels between the past and the present, and the ways in which ideas and traditions travel and evolve over the years. We are living out a continuation of everything that has happened before, and so we can always see ourselves in the people of the past.
10. What do you see as the future of archaeology? I hope that archaeology will become more accessible to the public and to young scholars. It’s a field that is always changing and evolving. Technology is constantly giving us new tools. Who knows? Maybe in the future, we won’t have to dig at all to see what lies underground. Which would actually make me a little sad.
11. What do you usually wear on a dig? Close-toed shoes, long, comfortable pants, and a cotton T-shirt. You need to be able to move easily while having protection from the sun. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a broad-brimmed hat are also essential!
12. What is your favorite part about being an archaeologist? The chance to travel and meet so many new people.
13. What qualities must an archaeologist have? A sense of adventure. Curiosity. Dedication.
14. What would you like people to know about an archaeologist that most people are not aware of? It’s a lot more work than people think, and a lot more time spent in the library and the laboratory. But while we may not be exactly like Indiana Jones, we do have a lot of fun.
15. What is the most interesting place your work has taken you? Turkey. I love the country so much, and it was wonderful to be able to see such a new and fascinating place.