Archaeologists Anonymous at SHA 2013

‘What are your hopes and fears for the future of archaeology?’

The Archaeologists Anonymous team are coming to the SHA conference and will be holding a panel session on the morning of Friday 11th January. In the run-up to the conference we’d like to invite all SHA delegates to send us your hopes and fears on a postcard and make the panel session a success!

How to get involved

The process is a simple one. You need to find a postcard, adapt its front cover somehow, and write your message (anonymously) on the back, and then post it to the address on the Arch Anon blog

Your postcard will join the other postcards we’ve received and will be prominently displayed on the blog - these postcards will form the basis for discussion points during the SHA panel. Your postcard could therefore lead vibrant debate regarding the future of archaeology during the 21st century at SHA: an important, international conference.

Why postcards?

We want to slow down the immediacy of digital communication and through regressive creativity provide an alternative to the fast-paced and hyper-identified world of Twitter, Facebook and email. We want to provide an opportunity for you to make something and use hand-writing rather than create through the technology of a laptop. Joining in will take a little time. You’ll need to find the ‘right’ postcard, think of your message and post it to us but we hope you’ll agree that the method is worth it. The postcards we’ve received are individual, striking and thought-provoking.

Postcards in archaeology

We also recognise the growing interest in postcards within the archaeological community. Sian Jones’ recent paper at CHAT in York considered the ways in which postcards from Whitworth Park in Manchester operated ‘as material objects’ whether ‘mass-produced, commoditized, personalised, exchanged and consumed’.

Why anonymity?

We are asking for contributors to send postcards anonymously as we want the message on the postcard to be more important than who is saying it. We are hoping that anonymity will allow the voices of undergraduates to be undifferentiated from the voices of professors. We are interested in all voices: whoever you are we would like you to send us your hopes and fears postcard.

The panel at SHA

The majority of places on the SHA panel will be filled on the day by members of the audience. It could be you! Joining the panel are Natasha Mehler (University of Vienna); Sara Perry (University of York); Sefryn Penrose (Atkins Heritage/University of Oxford); Sarah May (Independent); Emma Dwyer (University of Leicester); Katrina Foxton (University of York) and James Dixon (Archaeologists Anonymous).

The panel will draw on the postcards we’ve received to discuss the future direction of the discipline, the Arch Anon project, and the interconnections between anonymity and academia.

We are pleased that Katrina Foxton will be joining the SHA panel. Katrina’s recent work has focused on a specific collection of Victorian photographic postcards produced by Francis Frith (1822-1898), who took up the task of photographing every landscape and landmark in England during the 1860s. Looking at his work both in physical form and on the internet, Katrina’s work on postcards has considered how both the discursive aspects of the image content (including the achievement of a standardised way of obtaining that ‘perfect shot’, which is dependent on the material form and commercial success of the postcard) can lead to an understanding of postcard ‘culture’ and heritage today. Moreover, the prolific use of postcards in their hey-day has been likened to an early form of twitter (Staff 1979, Woody 1998, Procheska and Mendelson 2010).

Therefore, she is interested in the more recent mobilisation of these multi-dimensional photo-objects (Edwards and Harts 2004, Gillen and Hall 2011) within this particular archaeological debate, as it points to a further evolution in the postcard’s cultural life and its status as a epistolary medium.

We’re looking forward to hearing what Katrina has to say about Archaeologists Anonymous!

Can I bring a postcard along on the day?

We’d love you to be involved but we really want to have a stamp on the postcard so we can tell which countries the postcards have come from. And we really don’t want to know who’s made them. So please do post yours in time for SHA.

Any questions?  

Send us an email  -

See you in Leicester!

Hilary Orange, James Dixon, Stacey Hickling and Paul Graves-Brown (The Arch Anon team)

Navigating the Field: Education and Employment in a Changing Job Market

This year the Student Subcommittee of the Academic and Professional Training Committee (APTC) and the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) Student Council are cosponsoring a forum dedicated to helping students navigate the current job market in archaeology. Thanks to the efforts of my co-organizer, Barry Bleichner, the forum will host six engaging panelists, and it will be held on Thursday, January 10, 2013. For location, time and a list of panelists, click here.

The global economic downturn has shifted government funding priorities away from cultural and historic resource preservation, and jobs have been lost. However, the enthusiasm and dedication of archaeologists across the world has allowed public programming and archaeology education initiatives to grow with exceptional speed and direction (see list of organizations at the bottom of this blog).

Image from the Archaeological Institute of America’s website for the second annual National Archaeology Day [NAD] held on October 20, 2012; each blue marker represents a separate event organized in honor of the day (image courtesy of American Anthropological Association).

This image exhibits the passion and devotion of the professional archaeological community and their beloved volunteers who engendered over 280 archaeology themed events on National Archaeology Day 2012. Without the work of volunteers and interns, many of these events may have been understaffed or inadequately prepared for the hundreds of visitors who participated in the day of celebration and education. Many of the volunteers were students who are being trained as the next generation of archaeologists.

I conducted a small informal survey to gain a better understanding of student perspectives about the current job market. According to the results, the insecurities that archaeology students have about the pressure to find work in a depressed economy are abundant, but with a network of support, students will find jobs! Remember, the insights to follow serve only as an introduction; the forum in January will host several professionals who are prepared to tackle these topics in-depth.

“Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer!”
Fewer paid positions at archaeological venues has meant an increase in the skill requirements of new hires as well as an increase in the amount and type of work produced by volunteers and interns. The anxiety of making yourself the ideal candidate for a job can seem overwhelming, but it is important to stay calm and work on acquiring new, resume-bolstering skills.

I asked respondents of my survey, “Beyond acing exams and essays, what can students do to prepare themselves to be great candidates for jobs in archaeology?” The overwhelming answer from students and professionals, alike? VOLUNTEER. One participant responded with fervor, “Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! Entry level jobs can be hard to come by for students looking to gain experience. Volunteering allows you to not only fill up your CV and gain skills, but also make professional connections that could help you land that job.”

Employers are looking for people who are able to engage the community and solve problems with creativity and innovation. Volunteering can help you practice your skills while showing potential employers what you have to offer.

As a graduate student at the University of South Florida’s Applied Anthropology program, Becky O’Sullivan began her career by volunteering with Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN). Soon, this volunteer position became a paid graduate assistantship. This experience gave O’Sullivan an opportunity to practice what might not have seemed natural to her, “Presenting at a professional conference can be nerve-wracking, I’m naturally adverse to getting up to talk in front of large groups, but the benefits of sharing your work with others and in turn learning from their work far outweigh those drawbacks. A good presentation can make you rethink even your most basic assumptions about what archaeology is and should be and make you a stronger researcher as a result!” This excerpt, written by Ms. O’Sullivan in January 2012, is taken from FPAN West Central Region’s blog. Ms. O’Sullivan is now the outreach coordinator for FPAN’s West Central Region office.

Flexibility can be useful when you are looking for a paid job, but whether you are in a small town or a big city, there is a cultural organization willing to train you as a volunteer. Start by donating two hours a week; this allows you to keep your “after-college bill-paying job” while you start to build professional connections in your field. Once your schedule opens up, you can invest more time in a project to which you already contribute.

Keep an Open Mind
In response to my questionnaire, one student reports about her experience using her degree outside of archaeology, “As far as alternate job routes go, I am looking at teaching positions from a wide range of disciplines. I find that my type of scholarship will probably fit in better in an American Studies department, so I am looking at jobs in American Studies, history, and American Indian studies departments along with anthropology.”

Try reexamining your own career goals and consider different ways to use your educational background in archaeology. This exercise invites you to think about ways to make archaeology skills useful to employers outside the discipline. See the list at the bottom of this blog for ideas about where to find jobs.

When you are working on your CV or preparing for an interview, mention your special skills. Sometimes your “hobbies” (theater, photography, painting, archery, singing, film-making, poetry, basketball, etc.) can be a great asset to employers. Many successful archaeologists and anthropologists use such hobbies to enhance their projects and outreach programs.

The following excerpt comes from a book edited by John H. Jameson Jr. and Sherene Baugher called Past Meets Present: Archaeologists Partnering with Museum Curators, Teachers, and Community Groups,“In the face of an increasing public interest and demand for information, archaeologists are collaborating with historians, educators, interpreters, museum curators, exhibit designers, landscape architects, and other cultural resource specialists to devise the best strategies for translating an explosion of archaeological information for the public.” This book (and many others) provides examples of how archaeologists collaborate with people from other disciplines or work within other disciplines to help protect and share the cultural resources of our nation.

Communicate, Stay Involved and Believe in Yourself
Consider how large your support network is when you are looking for work. University students have many resources, but as a professor once told me, “Your most valuable tool is the connections you make with the people around you.” When you graduate, many other students will be at your side, and it is invaluable to keep in touch with friends and colleagues who may one day be able to help you land a new job.

You can acquaint yourself with people who are working as professionals in archaeology by attending and presenting at conferences. I am amazed by the kindness of professors and other professionals who I have met at various conferences. Reaching out to the people I admire has given me the confidence to continue working towards my goal of being a paid employee in the field. Social-networking sites like LinkedIn,, or Facebook can be great tools for keeping up with people you have met.

Becky O’Sullivan, Rita Elliott, and Roz Crews (author) at SEAC (South Eastern Archaeology Conference) Public Day 2011; thanks to Jeff Moates, director at FPAN WC,  for taking the photo

I met Becky O’Sullivan and Rita Elliott as an intern working on my undergraduate honors thesis about archaeology education and outreach. Talking with them gave me the courage to present my ideas to a wider audience. Rita Elliott and her team from the Society for Georgia Archaeology created ArchaeoBUS, a mobile learning classroom, and they have since shared Georgia archaeology with people across the state.

If you would like to reach me directly, my e-mail is

Archaeology outreach programs:
Project Archaeology, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Arkansas Archaeological Survey, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Northwest Cultural Resources Institute, Hawai`i Junior Archaeology Outreach Program

Job opportunities:
National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, your local Sate Historic Preservation Office (SHIPO) or Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THIPO), a local museum or visitor center, a local university lab or ethnography department, or a state archaeology or history society. Don’t forget to check USAJobs for archaeology jobs around the country.

Works Cited

  • Jameson, John H. and Sherene Baugher (eds.)
    • 2007 Past Meets Present: Archaeologists Partnering with Museum Curators, Teachers and Community Groups. Springer.

SHA 2013: Leicester’s Pubs

Early registration closes on Monday 3rd December, so you have only one week left to register for SHA 2013 before fees increase. Conference pre-registration will close on 21st December. Members of the Society for Historical Archaeology or Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology get a substantial discount on the registration fee, so don’t delay!

Don’t forget to book your accommodation; there are still rooms available in the four conference hotels, as well as other budget options in the city. And don’t forget to arrange your travel either. The conference committee has negotiated a special offer for delegates travelling up from London by train, and there are many other bargain train travel options for those who book in advance.

The Globe Inn, Silver Street

The Globe Inn, Silver Street, Leicester

In the meantime, and as the cold winter nights are drawing in, our attention has turned to the cosy warmth and hospitality of Leicester’s pubs. The city has a great range, from continental-style cafe-bars to homely inns, all serving a wide range of drinks and food. Some of our favourites are on this map.

The East Midlands boasts a number of craft breweries, producing ales for sale in the city’s pubs. Everards is a major employer in Leicester, and most of the city’s pubs stock their ale; unfortunately the brewery is unable to offer group tours, but you can take an interactive tour of their Leicester brewery, here. The Grainstore Brewery is next to Oakham Railway Station, only a 25-minute train ride from Leicester, and offers group tours and tastings.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is a national voluntary organisation which campaigns for real ale, community pubs, and consumer rights; the members of its Leicester Branch keep a keen eye on the region’s pubs.

Delegates who have been lucky enough to get tickets for the now sold-out Guildhall Reception will have the chance to sample local ales, alongside local delicacies such as Melton Mowbray pork pies, Stilton cheese, and Leicester’s Indian cuisine; but if you are still looking for something to do on the evening of Thursday 10th January, do not despair! We will be holding a free pub quiz (sponsored by Antiquity), with a mystery prize for the winning team. Further details will follow…