We work with both contract archeologists and university researchers.
Contract archaeologists are private firms hired by state and county governments, businesses, and land developers to survey and catalog potential building sites. Sites must be tested to determine if there are any culturally sensitive or important artifacts before building occurs. Religious artifacts as well as pre-historic and even historic items of interest must be catalogued before a decision is made to continue with the development. An internship with a contract archaeologist provides real world experience in both the business and cultural sides of archaeology.
University researchers have the expansion of knowledge as their primary goal. They are typically funded by the university or federal grants. Excavations tend to be more in depth and are in locations where there is the potential to increase our knowledge of a given culture in contrast with just being in the way of new development. Working with university researchers entails both field and lab work. This is a research intensive position that relies on all forms of research from the actual dig, to libraries, to collecting oral histories in the area.
- Catalog artifacts
- Assist archaeologists in the field
- Lay transects
- Attend client/staff meetings
- Research historical events
- Write reports
- Attend planning meetings
- Input findings into database
- Present historical research
Archaeology studies of past human societies by recovering and analyzing the material culture and environmental data they have left behind. The discipline involves purveyance, excavation and eventually analysis of data collected in order to learn more about the past. In broad scope, archaeology relies on cross-disciplinary research. The purpose of archaeology is to learn more about past societies and the development of the human race. Over 99% of the history of humanity has occurred within prehistoric cultures, which did not make use of writing, thereby not leaving written records about themselves which we can study today. Without such written sources, the only way to learn about prehistoric societies is to use archaeology.
An archaeological investigation usually involves several distinct phases, each of which employs its own variety of methods. Before any practical work can begin however, a clear objective as to what the archaeologists are looking to achieve must be agreed upon. This done, a site is surveyed to find out as much as possible about it and the surrounding area. Secondly, an excavation may take place to uncover any archaeological features buried under the ground, and thirdly, the data collected from the excavation is studied and evaluated in an attempt to achieve the original research objectives of the archaeologists. It is then considered good practice for the information to be published so that it is available to other archaeologists and historians, although this is sometimes neglected.
Once artifacts and structures have been excavated, or collected from surface surveys, it is necessary to properly study them, to gain as much data as possible. This process is known as post-excavation analysis, and is normally the most time-consuming part of the archaeological investigation. It is not uncommon for the final excavation reports on major sites to take years to be published.
At its most basic, the artifacts found are cleaned, cataloged and compared to published collections, in order to classify them typologically and to identify other sites with similar artifact assemblages. However, a much more comprehensive range of analytical techniques are available through archaeological science, meaning that artifacts can be dated and their compositions examined. The bones, plants and pollen collected from a site can all be analyzed (using the techniques of zoo archaeology, paleoethnobotany, and palynology), while any texts can usually be deciphered.