Did you know Indiana Jones is a professor archaeology by day and adventurer at night? Of course you did (and if you did not, now you know!) However, I bet you did not know his character and adventures were drawn from real archaeologists who made amazing rediscoveries. Take Hiram Bingham III, for example. A Yale University professor, Bingham rediscovered the lost city of Machu Picchu during the late 1940s. And just this past summer, archaeologists rediscovered lost cities in Cambodia with beautifully stunning temples.
During my semester abroad in London, I will have the opportunity to study Roman archaeology at London’s first archaeology academic department. My classes will consist of going to the ancient Roman settlement that developed into what we know as the London Old City. Seeing the fortress walls and learning about how the Londinium settlement came to be is an amazing experience for those who are interested in history, the classics, urban planning, and archaeology. So are you craving for adventure? A fan of digging in the dirt and finding old stuff? Love learning about past civilizations and wonder how they used to live and carry on their daily lives? Maybe archaeology is for you!
What is archaeology?
At first glance archeology might be questioned as the same as a classics major or history major. Long story short, there are distinct differences between archaeology and history in particular. Archeology has an emphasize on the material evidence left behind to illustrate how people used to live in the past, while history relies more on documentation and written accounts of the past. From archaeology, we are able to fill in the gaps of ancient history (think Roman and even before then) since a lot of written documentation did not survive. For whose who are interested in non-Western archaeology, make sure you check your prospective universities and colleges for what courses they offer. In addition, here is a link to five great blogs on archaeology to follow if you are interested in more of what archaeologists are learning and rediscovering now.
What can I do with archaeology?
I’m not going to lie, being the next Indiana Jones is a little more difficult to do now a days. However by truly exploring your options, you can find careers that directly draw from your archeology training/education. Here are a few careers that will directly utilize the skills and knowledge from your archaeology major:
- Academia (Professor, Teacher)
- Museum Curator
- Public Archaeologist (working for Federal, State and Local Departments)
- Private sector archaeologists
Where are some cool places to study archaeology?
As with almost every other undergraduate major, there is truly no “best” archaeology department, but below is a list of a variety of departments from large public universities to liberal arts colleges. This is a good list to start and can be used to branch out from:
- University of Arizona – Archaeology
- University of California–Berkeley – Archaeology
- University of Chicago – Classical Archaeology
- Univesrity College London (London, UK) – Archaeology
- University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill – Archaeology
- Yale University – Archaeology