My Week as an Archaeologist
It is bewildering how only a week can change one’s perspective. I had one of the most thoughtful experiences I have ever had in my life. It is not anything life-changing or career-changing, but the sense of fulfillment I felt coursing through my body after was something I will never forget. Each time I remember it, I still feel the adrenaline in my chest.
As an anthropology major, I knew right away that I would be—generally—more focused on the cultural aspect, although I do find biological, linguistical, and archaeological all very interesting. The amazing and mind-boggling thing about anthropology is the way different aspects combine to create the bigger picture, as they all go hand in hand. Even though all of them are extremely important, I have big plans for how cultural anthropology will affect the future.
After all, the cultural aspect is, in my opinion, a large piece of current problems, and our society is lacking in understanding. By understanding each other’s cultures more, meaning religions, races, genders, points of view, et cetera, we can become a tighter-knit community, kinder people, and, overall, a better society.
Despite my overwhelming avidity for cultural anthropology, I took a step outside of my comfort zone and tried something remarkable.
From July 15 to July 19, I volunteered for History Colorado’s Lone Mesa State Park PAAC Survey just outside of Dolores, CO, my mother’s hometown. Funnily enough, that was the only reason I considered going. After looking into it more, my mom insisted I take advantage of this opportunity. I was a little hesitant at first, since I am always nervous meeting new people and I had no idea what we were really doing, but I am glad I took her suggestion.
On top of getting to see my family in that area, it was quite the experience, educational and heartwarming. During the survey, I learned about archaeology forms and processes, and, as well as discovering amazing artifacts, I discovered a lot about myself and all the people around me.
The five days out at Lone Mesa State Park were filled with hot sun, sage brush, and laughs. The first three days, we only had shade at the lunch break, as we spent the mornings and afternoons trekking over hills with the sun beating over us. Thursday and Friday, we spent more time in the wooded areas, so the heat was not as intense. Thankfully, I only received one minor sunburn!
Surveying the areas, we searched for prehistoric and historic artifacts to collect and, later, perform diagnostics. We found flakes, arrowhead tips and bases, bird points, metates, evidence of logging, and many pieces of glass. I had never seen any of the prehistoric items, and it was absolutely brilliant to see them in real life and look at the landscape like a window to Colorado’s past.
Most importantly, I met some of the kindest and most caring people on this survey. Every single person greeted me with a smile, made me feel like part of the team, and gave me thoughtful advice.
The best thing about meeting these people was witnessing the kindness that floated all between us. I know people think I am crazy when I go on and on about the importance of kindness, but I can assure you, this experience could have been a lot different for me had the people not been nice. It made my aching hips and exhausted mind worth the journey.
They gave me tons of advice to be an archaeologist, and even though I will not be changing my focus to archaeology (my apologies!), this delve into the archaeology world has made an impact in what I want to do, only by meeting these people.
They are living proof that kind people are everywhere.
It is hard to be optimistic sometimes. Each day, I tell myself that every person is kind, and I still believe that wholeheartedly; however, it is difficult to keep believing when you hear about the most recent mass shooting and witness hateful people around you, even just walking around the grocery store.
But I know it can change, and even though the artifacts we found did not give any substantial proof that kindness is a natural human trait, just meeting new people did.
Ever since my experience, I have been overwhelmed with a sense of adventure; I am ready to travel the world, publish a book, and make a difference.
And I am so excited.
If you want to learn more about the survey, and see an article featuring two pictures of me and a quote, check out this article written by the very kind Mary Shinn who came out to see us on the last day: https://durangoherald.com/articles/287030