Hey, I’m Alex! I am a student at the University of York in my second year of studying BA Archaeology. I wanted to let you know why studying Archaeology at York has been so good for me!
As part of my first year at York, I learned practical field skills, which enabled me to go straight into working on excavations in my first summer. All Archaeology degrees at York are CIfA (Chartered Institute for Archaeologists) accredited. This meant that the skills I had learned transferred into hands-on experience. This summer, I took part in an archaeology field trip to Romania. Because of the skills I had learned, I was confident in knowing what I was doing.
But why archaeology you might wonder?
Who could resist the allure of making new discoveries, or the desire to understand unknown people and their lives? In every moment, archaeologists face unsolvable mysteries. At the same time, we work as part of a collaborative team that attempts to understand past human cultures, and help today’s world better cope with change.
Archaeology, helped by other disciplines like anthropology, looks at the things people leave behind. This lets us reconstruct who we were in the past. Archaeologists discover entire worlds based on scraps of discarded animal or human bones, old broken dishes, and even microscopic molecules embedded in ancient hearths or stone walls. And to be honest, for me, this is too remarkable to pass up, and sounds too convincing to disprove.
My archaeology field trip to Romania
Let me tell you about my archaeology field trip to Romania!
It was only possible because of the course at York, and the support I received from the Archaeology department. After discussions on how to apply and where to look, I found a joint expedition between a German and Romanian University. At first, I felt completely out of my comfort zone, but now I know my potential career has benefitted. Archaeology is a discipline I want to continue with into the future.
The excavation focussed on Neolithic communities in the Danube valley. We would be excavating various sites such as burials and hillforts. The project explored the Stone Age pottery cultures of Boian and Gumelita, who were key actors in the transition to agriculture. Surrounded by professionals in palaeobotany and anthropology, I was also able to expand my skillset.
What we found
We made lots of interesting finds. The level of deposited material culture was very good, with whole layers of just all Neolithic pottery! It was very interesting to see the types of flints and how far they travelled. This really gave an insight into the regional geography and trade in the Neolithic. And I was reminded of how like us, these Stone Age societies could be. Some miniature pottery “chairs” we found were thought to be used as little toys for the potters’ children.
The whole spectrum of what I had learned in my first year came in useful, from knowledge about prehistoric cultures and their pottery, to knowing the background of the collected scientific data. Archaeological theory and direct application of archaeological techniques in the field were also helpful. This archaeology field trip was an opportunity to expand my horizons and make friends across the globe!