Cultural resource management and the Day of Archaeology 2015

The River Street Archaeology Project was just one of hundreds of #dayofarch 2015 projectsLast week, I witnessed my third #dayofarch and was pleasantly surprised to see the prominence of blog posts about a number of great cultural resource management archaeology projects happening around the globe. For those of you who do not know, the Day of Archaeology I’m talking about was launched in 2011 as a means of letting the world learn the truth of what we do as archaeologists. All of the project’s sponsors are from the Eurozone, so Europe is heavily represented on DayofArch. The project has grown dramatically and #dayofarch 2015 looks like the biggest one yet.

Since public outreach is at the core of the whole project, community and academic archaeology projects are well represented. My contribution this year focused on the recent River Street Archaeology Project in Boise, Idaho (Disclaimer: I was the co-director of this year’s fieldwork and am very proud of what we accomplished).For #dayofarch 2015, I created a YouTube video of this year’s activities in Boise:


Commercial Archaeology and the Day of Arch

The excellent representation of different cultural resource management archaeology (called commercial archaeology in Europe) is what really caught my eye. In the United States, I know of at least one CRMer that has been fired for blogging and posting on social media about a CRM project so it’s interesting how some companies (mostly European) are taking the opportunity to inform others of activities in the commercial realm (check the post on CRM in Sweden if you want to see real transparency). Breaking the barrier between CRM, which is where most of the action is, and the general public, which is where most of the money for archaeology comes from, is one of the most important ways we can remain relevant in the face of budget cuts and threats to eliminate environmental consulting.

The CRM posts were truly amazing. I was unable to read all of them but here are some of the posts that really stood out to me:

From Waterloo to St. Pancras (Stu Eve, Waterloo Uncovered)—Whenever I think of Napoleon, I can’t help but think of those memorable scenes from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Bowling. Ziggy Piggy. Winning Risk. All burned into my memory.

(FYI: The part where Napoleon is bombing down the runs at the Waterloo waterpark is at 5:20 in the video below.)



Stu Eve submitted a scene from his own life as an archaeologist working on the Waterloo Uncovered project. It sounds like the project is dedicated to verifying the accuracy of oral histories of the major Waterloo battle on June 18, 1815. This event was a major turning point in recent European history and marks the beginning of true British dominance for over 100 years.

Stu spent much of the DayofArch working on GIS troubles from a chateau in France (sounds horrible). The whole project looks like an amazing multi-national collaboration that is literally ground trothing history. I also spent some time checking out the awesome Waterloo Uncovered website. It’s loaded with information that really helped me move beyond Bill and Ted’s references and dig deeper into what the battle meant for Europe.

The Value of Non-Academic Archaeology (ArchaeoAD)—This blog post addresses one of the biggest things I’ve come across as a CRMer cum PhD student: The perpetual argument that CRM is professional archaeology. I seriously suggest you read this post if you want to see how one of the oldest conundrums in archaeology (the CRM vs. Academia bout) is still alive and well.

ArchaeoAD, you were smart to have done CRM before going back to school for your PhD. Email me sometime so we can talk about your professional plans for the future.

Contract Museum Archaeology in Sweden (Delia Ni Chiobhain Enqvist, Bohusläns Museum, Uddevalla)—Once again, television has polluted my mind. All I can think about whenever I think of any Scandinavian country is the show Vikings on the History Channel. So, obviously, I had to click on any blog post about archaeology in Sweden. I was not disappointed.

Delia Enqvist is one of 20 archaeologists at the Bohusläns Museum (English speakers can check out a translation of the Museum’s website here) and it looks like all of their projects are rad. Underwater dives in swampy bogs. Bad ass Iron Age urban archaeology. Prehistoric sites. It’s like every CRMer in the United States’ dream job.

Delia is headed off to get her PhD at the (wait for it) the Graduate School of Contract Archaeology at Linnaeus University. Once again it looks like the Scandinavians are ahead of us here in the States. They actually have a PhD in CRM!!! Best of all, Delia still gets paid to do CRM WHILE SHE’S IN GRAD SCHOOL. (Delia, if you’re reading this post and are confused by my amazement it’s just that getting paid a livable wage to go to grad school is almost unheard of here in the States. And, having a PhD that trains archaeologists how to do archaeology is like finding a unicorn swimming in a pot of gold at the bottom of a rainbow—it does not exist here.)

Good luck in grad school, Delia. And, great DayofArch post.

Confessions of a newly minted self-employed archaeologist (Nicky)—This post reminded me why I went back to school for my PhD: I wanted to become the kind of CRMer who had more control over their career. Nicky describes his DayofArch as a new freelancer. He describes exactly how he was able to start his own consultancy while also finishing up his PhD, a feat that needs to be read about in order to be understood. It all boils down to discipline and drive.

Proposals, Forms, Emails and Diapers (Russell Aileen-Willems, Diachronic Design)—A stay at home dad and freelance archaeology database designer, Russell definitely has his hands full. His DayofArch post describes how he spent the day filling out paperwork while staying home with his young son. Filling out paperwork is something I dread, but know it helps pay the bills. In fact, I’d much rather change a baby’s diaper than do paperwork so Russell I do not envy you—except for the fact that you get to spend so much time with your son while he’s little. That baby’s not going to be young for that much longer. Make sure you enjoy these times.

A Trainee Archaeologist’s First Week (RebeccaBP, Oxford Archaeology East)—I don’t remember the first time I brushed my teeth. I can’t recall the first time I asked a girl out on a date and I have no idea what it was like to drive a car by myself for the first time. But, I definitely remember my first day on the job as a professional archaeologist.

RebeccaBP describes what is the culmination of nearly a decade of effort devoted towards one goal: becoming a professional archaeologist. It looks like she got to work on a rad project where they actually found stuff and I was encouraged by her enthusiasm for getting an opportunity to excavate her own unit, even though part of the week was spent in the rain.

I can relate, Rebecca. Part of my first week in CRM included back-to-back 10-hour days digging in sleet. I loved every minute of that job. Awesome post.

Archaeological monitoring (less digging, more watching) (Marc Kissel)—I thought it was astonishing that somebody actually wrote a post about one of the main ways we find sites. Monitoring is boring but it sounds like Marc didn’t really mind. I was really impressed with the way he mentioned that monitoring is actually a form of public outreach because, most of the time, you will be monitoring for crews that have no idea what archaeologists do. A monitor is one of the best agents we have in the crusade to inform the public about the value of archaeology and what an archaeologist gives to society.

These were just a few of the many commercial archaeology blog posts that found their way on the Day of Archaeology website. If you haven’t taken the time, please check out the DayofArch website and see what your peers are doing around the globe. Thanks to all those who diligently wrote posts for this year’s Day of Archaeology.

I would love to hear what you thought of Day of Archaeology 2015. Please, write a comment below or send me an email.

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