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Fwd: seniors, volunteers, unlimited resources, and archaeology

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  • George Thomas
    Bob Muckle s field school circumstances, considered alongside the family picnic ambience of many public field school venues, illustrates the important point
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2008
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      Bob Muckle's field school circumstances, considered alongside the family picnic ambience of many public "field school" venues, illustrates the important point that "archaeological fieldwork" ranges in difficulty from sultry Spring days in field lab shelters suitable for the participation of wheelchair-bound seniors, to rugged hiking into remote areas carrying all equipment daily.

      What should be common to all field schools is careful research planning, usually under the guidance of experienced archaeological professionals or published, peer-reviewed amateurs. Beyond this common quality, and the legal considerations many have mentioned, it's pretty much up for grabs.

      Some actually LIKE crawling into remote areas through thorns and across raging canyon streams.

      With unlimited resources (and Bob, I'm sure you'd be thrilled to chair a discussion of that as well), the remote field school problem described here could be balanced each year with a more sedate program or a "base-camp laboratory" system suitable for the infirm, weak, old , tired, lazy, disinclined, and otherwise alternative set. The Texas Archeological Society fieldschool (usually two weeks in June) charges an admission fee which goes toward Society expenses. I haven't checked recently, but the by-laws, etc. are probably available on the TAS website. The group is particularly well-known for significant contributions by the region's professionals as well as unusually experienced, published avocationalists. The skill levels and accomplishments of the pros and ams overlap. Some of the better lab work or writing is done by the less active lab tech set.

      I have a gut feeling that the TAS and its vigorous activities stimulate some public support, and displace some as well.

      But that's just my 2/10ths of a cent.


      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Bob Muckle
      Sent: Sat 1/12/2008 7:08 PM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [SACC-L] seniors, volunteers, and archaeology

      First, I would like to graciously thank Mark Lewine for volunteering me
      to lead a roundtable discussion on this topic at the SACC meetings.
      That Lewine is quite a guy. Quite a guy. Always thinking of things for
      to do.

      I was actually trying to avoid the threads on volunteers and seniors
      and archaeology field projects, but it doesn't seem possible, and I've
      already been drawn into some off-list discussions. So...if I get at
      four other people expressing interest in a roundtable discussion on
      dealing with seniors and volunteers on archaeology field projects,
      then I
      will ask Becky Stein (program chair), it we could have a roundtable on
      it at the meetings. I'd be willing to lead it, but would gladly step
      aside if someone else was willing to to do it.

      I've worked with seniors and volunteers on many projects, in both North
      America and Africa. Like others have expressed, it can be a good
      experience. But it can also be not-so-good as well. For my
      fieldschool, I
      discourage anyone who is not physically fit from applying. I tell them
      the kinds of things that are expected, including a daily one hour walk
      through the forest to the site each way, lifting heavy pails, packing
      field equipment through forests, and hiking through difficult terrain.
      tell them we are going on a 20 km hike through the study area, with
      packs, the second day of the project, rain or shine. I tell them that
      we may be doing survery work on unstable ground and that I've only had
      one fall into a river. I also tell them there is a reasonable chance
      encountering bears and cougars and that although we have seen several
      in previous years, nobody has been mauled, and we have pepper spray.
      Every senior I have had who has expressed interest loses it at this
      point. I have 'public excavation' days which they are welcome to join,
      we arrange transportation for, and many do. One of the many things
      I've learned over the past eight consecutive summers of directing a
      school is that every student should be treated equally in the field,
      least when it comes to the grunt work. If someone is excluded from
      having to survey in difficult terrain or lift pails of excavated
      or load and unload heavy equipment, it doesn't usually sit to well
      with those who have to pick up the slack.

      Bob Muckle

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