As the year comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what I’ve learnt in archaeology over the course of 2015 and share with you some of the great projects I’ve been involved with. So here’s 5 little things which have made the last year in archaeology my best one yet:
- Firstly, in June I finished the second year of my undergraduate degree. That was kind of a sad moment for me. I loved every minute of my second year. I learnt about everything from the development of early medieval towns in Europe with Martin Carver to agricultural production in Medieval Iberia and the archaeology of homelessness. In particular I loved learning about (and you can call me sad here) issues in Conservation and Planning, and learning how to write a Conservation Area Appraisal. I developed so many new skills and interests – all thanks to the amazing Archaeology Department at York!
- Once second year ended then, I thought I would have to suffer a dry spell of archaeology (worst nightmare!) before third year started in September. I was lucky enough however, to be given the opportunity to go and work as part of the Visualisation Team at Ҫatalhöyük in Turkey. If you’re interested in what I was getting up to this year, take a look at Chapter 18 of the 2015 Archive Report. (And make sure you keep an eye out for the launch of the new website!) It was such a fantastic experience and one that I’ll never forget. I got to meet some of the leading archaeologists in the world and made some incredible new friends – everyone was so friendly and welcoming. The archaeology too was incredible – it actually blew my mind! For many reasons, Ҫatalhöyük has a special place in my heart now and I hope to return again as part of the Visualisation Team in 2016. It’s definitely given me the bug for travelling!
- The end of September brought about the start of third year (uh oh!) and the beginning of more exciting things to learn about in archaeology. My Visual Media in Archaeology module, for which this blog was originally set up, has been great and I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to speak to loads of professionals in the heritage sector including the artist Leyla Cardenas and the exhibition designers behind the new Bar Convent exhibition in York. My thanks goes to Colleen Morgan for making it such a brilliant and engaging module!
- I’ve learnt as well, recently, how useful blogging in archaeology is. I’d read about the benefits of it in Internet Archaeology and other places, and tried my hand at it during my Heritage Practice module all the way back in first year, but it’s only this year that I got round to setting one up of my own . I can actually say that this blog has been great for me. It’s allowed me to be reflexive in my practice and taught me that, not only can I write in a non-academic way, but that I can write about things I’m interested in which don’t have to be part of my degree. I don’t have to dedicate all of my time to my degree and I don’t have to feel guilty about it either. I’ve definitely come to realise over the past couple of months that my life in archaeology is not, and shouldn’t be, all about working towards getting the best first in the whole world. It should be about making my own experiences and researching my own personal interests too. I think I was getting a little lost, and putting too much pressure on myself to achieve the best every single time. I’ve learnt that I don’t have to put that much pressure on; I can sit back and enjoy the ride and I can make mistakes along the way because I’ll probably still do just fine. This blog has been great for helping me realise that.
- Finally, the main thing I think I’ve learnt this year is that friendship, communication, and the willingness to help others is the driving force behind archaeology. Yes, the archaeology itself is important – that’s why we’re all here – but without a sense of community the discipline of archaeology would be a lonely place. Maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but it’s only really struck me this year how essential it is in archaeology to feel like you’ve got some support, whether that be from a department, a tutor, archaeologists you work with in the field, or your closest friends. Archaeology can leave you feeling vulnerable and unsure sometimes, and it’s ok to ask people ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘What do you think?’ People won’t laugh at you and (I’m going to be sickeningly cheesy here) you have to believe in yourself and trust in your judgement. This year has confirmed to me in many ways that, yes I can do it, I can work well under pressure and I won’t be a complete failure as a heritage practitioner (or whatever I may become). I’ve had a major confidence boost in 2015 and that’s all down to the friendships I’ve made and the feeling that I can achieve what I want – even if it’s a long way off. The archaeological community is great that way!
So there it is, 5 little things I’ve done and learnt in archaeology in 2015. Although this year has been stressful in parts, it’s been out-of-this-world in others, and I’m sad in a way that this year is over. 2016 however, is set to be even better what with graduation, exciting new projects, (hopefully) starting a masters and (finger crossed!) more trips abroad to see amazing sites. I’m also aiming to do a bit more excavating this year and build up my (seriously lacking) skills in that! And so, as I continue on towards the end of my undergraduate degree I just have to say how unbelievably grateful I am for the continued support from the Archaeology Department at York, my tutor Sara Perry, and all my amazing family and friends (many of whom have no clue what I do!) – I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to share my year with. Here’s to a fantastic year of archaeology!
Happy New Year everyone, I hope you all have an incredible 2016!