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Ten Top Tips for Getting Into Archaeology

Ten Top Tips for Getting Into Archaeology

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Published by Raja Bella

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Published by: Raja Bella on Mar 19, 2013
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Ten top tips for getting into archaeology
Joe Flatman, author of the award-winning book 
tell us his 10 top tips for getting into archaeology.
 Archaeology offers tremendous opportunities for involvement, whether a lifelong interest alongside another career, or a career in itself. It is never too early or too late to become involved in archaeology, and archaeologytranscends borders, cultures, languages and social and economic divisions. Anyone anywhere can becomeinvolved in archaeology if they wish, and the opportunities to become involved improve all the time.
The best way to get involved in archaeology is to find out what opportunities for participation are available in your own neighbourhood, through your local archaeology or history society or club, national organisations or localgovernment, schools or universities. There are talks, walks, guides and events on nearly every week around theworld; there are also hundreds of opportunities every year to go on more formal training in archaeologicaltechniques and so become involved in actual fieldwork. Many of these events are free; even the ones that chargeare rarely all that expensive. Archaeologists are well aware that people don’t have that much money to spare andfight to keep costs of events down. Almost all events are advertised online. Membership of local or nationalarchaeology organizations is similarly cheap and extremely good value. Membership brings you into contact withlikeminded people in your neighbourhood and provides access to information and resources like newsletters andmagazines, events and even library facilities.
There are many good popular archaeology magazines now available, often from high-street newsagents rather than specialist vendors.
Current Archaeology 
Current World Archaeology 
are a good starting point, a quickand enjoyable way to find out more about archaeology.There are also many excellent introductory books on thebasics, origins and practice of archaeology – mostly published in paperback, cheap to buy and easily purchasedonline. Some recommendations for these magazines and books are listed in the appendix of the book.
The chances are that if you’re interested in getting more involved in archaeology then you’re already doing this –there are so many good TV shows on archaeology these days, as well as online videos, that these have becomethe main entry point for budding archaeologists. But just in case you’ve not been watching these, then do! Not allarchaeologists like all of these shows, and as your knowledge of archaeology increases then you’ll rapidly beginto differentiate for yourself between the good and the bad programmes in terms of the quality of the archaeologydone and the validity of some of their claims. But nonetheless, many of these shows do a great job of introducingkey concepts, ideas and sites that are central to archaeology.
 As noted above, there are talks, walks, guides and events on about archaeology nearly every week around theworld and most of these events are free or very cheap to attend.A great place to look beyond your localarchaeology society or club is your local university archaeology or history department: most have weekly talksscheduled by staff and visiting scholars. Visitors are normally welcome to such events by prior arrangement, and
such events are usually advertised on departmental homepages. Going to events like these are a great way tomeet real archaeologists and likeminded people.
 Archaeologists are friendly people who love their subject. They want to tell other people about it and help themget involved. Never, ever be afraid to look up archaeologists who work in your neighbourhood and ask them for advice on how to participate. They may not be able to help you themselves, but they will know other people whocan help you and be able to put you in contact with them.A good starting point is either your local archaeologysociety or your local government archaeologist – both can be searched for online. If these people cannot helpyou, then your local university archaeology department should be able to help.
For those of you interested in taking the next step, considering not only becoming involved inarchaeology but possibly pursuing a career as an archaeologist, the next five steps are especially for you:
Start out by asking yourself what you want out of archaeology – do you really want a career as an archaeologist,e.g. to earn a living doing this? Or rather, do you simply want to become more involved in fieldwork? Understandthe implications of a career in archaeology from the outset – long years of training, limited job opportunities, lowpay and often short employment contracts – and place this against your other personal aspirations and alsocommitments. Talk about your aspirations with your family and what this lifestyle might mean for them, and berealistic – if you’ve always wanted a big house with a sports car sitting in your driveway then archaeology reallyisn’t the career for you. Once you’ve come to a decision then plan what you need to do to make a start in your career – training, experience and contacts.
Realistically, a professional career in archaeology begins at university. You might not like to hear this but there itis. Without a university degree in archaeology then you are seriously harming your chances of getting any job inthe discipline, let alone advancing your career as a professional. So if you’re serious about a career, then find outwhat qualifications you need to get into such a university degree course, find out what university you’d like tostudy at, and apply for a place.Remember that it is never too late to do this. Universities have students with anincredibly diverse array of backgrounds, ages, nationalities and experience.
 Archaeologists who do well in their careers have multiple skills and fields of expertise. Multiple skills andspecialisms make you the most adaptable to change, the most able to apply for the largest number of jobs. Thismeans both archaeological and non-archaeological skills, experience and expertise.For those already at workwho are considering a mid-career move into archaeology in particular, it is well worth making a list of what you doin your current job, what skills you have already, and then seeing how these skills might apply to archaeology.
There are more archaeologists out there than available jobs – supply exceeds demand. Beyond expanding your training, skills and expertise, successful archaeologists volunteer to do things that make them, and their CVs,stand out, that provide opportunities for networking, publication and self-promotion. Early on in any career thismeans volunteering to work, often unpaid (but hopefully with at least some costs covered) on projects – both theexciting fieldwork components of any project as well as the much less glamorous but equally important pre- and

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