There are many misconceptions about archaeology. You might think of Indiana Jones, or dinosaurs, dinosaurs are actually associated with the field of paleontology, not archaeology.
So, just to clarify, archaeology is the study of the human past through material remains. Material remains are artifacts, features or human remains/bones.
Artifacts are moveable material remains, so think the contents of your house, and features are immovable remains, so your house itself.
I had not thought very carefully about what archaeology was or what it means, when in 2012, the opportunity to participate in an archaeological field school presented itself. I thought of adventure in a faraway place and of all the cool things that might be found.
What I encountered instead was a life-changing experience that altered the trajectory of my educational future. So much for law school.
Quickly, I learned that archaeology is a scientific process, and that it was not about what we found but instead about what we learned from what we excavated. It was about hard physical work and careful and precise data collection.
Indiana Jones, where were you hiding your binder of maps and field notes? Your tape measure and line level? This was even better than Hollywood-style adventuring.
I was a part of a contribution to a body of knowledge that helps the world at large to understand where we came from and what came before us.
When I returned home, I discovered that archaeology held another valuable and even more personal meaning — this deep connection to the origins of a place helped me to connect in a different way and on a new level with my current community.
What do I mean by current community? As a military spouse, I have lived in so many places. My current community is where I am now.
Humanity at large is perpetually curious about who they are and where they come from. Instead of where I come from, as a military spouse, archaeology and history help me understand where I am and help me to feel connected and invested in a strange new place.
Periodic relocation, which many military Families experience an average of every two years, can leave us feeling like strangers in the towns in which we live. The stories that a new place tells have helped me build a connection to my new landscape and feel more personally invested in my current community.
Fort Bragg, our newest duty station, has not disappointed. Fort Bragg is unexpectedly rich in archaeology, and promises to be my most exciting better-than-Hollywood adventure yet.