As you may recall, until a few years ago I worked as a professional archeologist. No, really. I even have the hard-earned papers to prove it. I worked in the field for more than a decade, and I still consider myself to be an archeologist; but given the fiscal and physical realities of the past few years, I haven’t been able to practice my chosen trade lately. The fiscal difficulty comes from the fact that, until recently, I just couldn’t afford to be an archeologist; the pay isn’t the best ever. Things have recently changed in my fiscal world, but now I’m blissfully happy with what I currently do for a living, and besides — physically, I’m about as capable of the work these days I am of running in the Boston Marathon. Suffice it to say that diabetes is a pain in the ass.
There’s a lot of confusion out there as to what, exactly, an archeologist is. Well, we’re the people who find and study human cultural and physical remains — rocks and bones, mostly. We don’t hunt dinosaurs, which is what a lot of people think; that’s paleontologists. We don’t study soil and rocks much; we leave that to the geologists. Many archeologists do mix other scientific specialties with our archeology, however, so you end up with a lot of “subspecies” of archeologists out there. I myself was trained in geoarcheology, which is archeology with a lot of geology thrown in; I happened to luck into doing my Master’s under one of the top men in the field. I’ll probably discuss a few of the archeological specialties in various contexts over the next few months.
Which brings us to the reason I’m telling you all this: as of today I’m inaugurating a new section on Archeology. The focus, of course, is going to be on the archeology of the North Texas area. I’ll outline the general prehistory of the region, and go on to discuss such things as important finds, archeological societies, field school opportunities, and cool local institutions (like the Dallas Museum of Natural History) that offer info on local prehistory. I’ll probably even discuss stuff like learning how to flint-knap so you can make your own stone artifacts, or where you can go to <> ancient society, and that’s why pothunters piss us off.
That doesn’t mean that the amateur archeologist can’t contribute to the field; in fact, they have a long, illustrious history of doing so, especially in Texas. I’ll be happy to steer you in the direction of local archeological societies, some of which themselves are quite well known and respected. And let’s not forget — there are plenty of field schools out there looking for volunteers, so if you’re itching to go out and dig up loot (like one of my good friends is always trying to get me to do with her), you’ll have plenty of chances to do so.
I hope you enjoy this new category in my blog. Feel free to post comments or suggestions about what I should write about next!