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Me & My Other Interests: Archaeology

It's been a long while since I did my last instalment of my mini series of my "other interests" I don't tend to mention as much on NB, so I figured it was high-time I brought you another segment of my jumbled up personality (great huh?). Although my previous posts talking all about my music taste and my love for video games are not such rare topics on Northern Blood now as I include them in my monthly "favourites" style/life catch up posts (which you can read, here!) there's one interest that doesn't really get a look-in despite it being a big chunk of my life and my education and that is my beloved archaeology.

The love affair with archaeology started when I was really young. I can't remember the exact age, but being an English Heritage member, my family and I would go away to look at old ruins, castles, manor houses etc. etc. as frequently as possible and I loved it every single time. It was so interesting learning about history and English Heritage have a great knack for making the learning fun for youngsters. But that was history not archaeology. The archaeology side of it genuinely stemmed from a TV show, Time Team. If you're from Britain, you might remember watching Time Team which was basically a show that was on TV on a weekly basis, Tony Robinson (yes, Baldrick) was the presenter and he a team of archaeologists would head to some area where there was thought to be *something* or archaeological importance buried beneath the soil and spend 3 days digging it up. I absolutely loved it. I was allowed to eat my tea, sat on the living room floor with my trusty greyhound sidekick and watch these people scrape away the mud - usually in the rain - and find treasure underneath it. It seemed magical that it was a job for some people.

Fast forward a little bit and I still have a VHS tape of me at a dancing competition when I was seven years old. For whatever reason, all of the competitors involved are on the stage being asked their age, where they travelled from, and what they want to be when they're older. As the host goes along the line, you've got the "vets" and the "dancers" answering, then everyone laughs when I say I want to be an "archaeologist". Funny how many years later, that dream kind of came true. In 2012 I moved my life to Winchester in the south east of England to start studying Archaeology at the University of Winchester for the next 3 years. It was a big step to make as I was moving over 300+ miles away from home and I hadn't even studied History or Archaeology at A Level or GCSE so I was going into the subject quite blind on the academic front, but I had my fingers crossed that I would enjoy it as much as I had in my leisure time growing up.

When I tell people I'm an Archaeology graduate I usually get hit with one of two responses: "oh so you dig up dinosaurs?" not quite my friends - I wish but alas, that is Palaeontology so no, I am not Ross from Friends - or "so you dig up dead people?" nope because that's kind of illegal. People can often get confused about what an Archaeologist actually does and to be honest, the beauty about studying the subject is you can pick and choose what you do. I took the BA Hons route at uni which meant I did the more arts-based modules. I looked at representation in art, I studied the art and architecture of ancient religions, I looked at the Christian church in England and how it developed during the medieval period in extensive detail... I did all of the more "culutral development/arty farty" aspects of the subject if you like whereas some of my coursemates studied down the BSc Hons route a studied the science behind the subject by surveying the land, entering data on graveyards etc., and studying human remains. It's such a vast subject and I can remember having a conversation with someone I used to work with who thought History and Archaeology were "pointless" subjects because "what's the point in studying the past?" and I was gobsmacked. I couldn't understand how someone didn't see the value. For me, looking at our past is just as important as looking at our future. I find it fascinating to learn how religion developed all over the world and that as a species, we created such a thing in such a wide range of ways which such a wide range or reasons behind it. I find it inspiring how some architectural creations have stood the test of time and modern architects and historians are baffled by how a "less developed" shadow of our species could create what they did because they didn't have our standards of technology that we have today. I find it incredibly exciting that every year there is more and more discovered, sometimes whole communities and settlements that were previously hidden by overgrowth of nature or lost to the sea... It's a subject that is continuously growing and changing and for those reasons, I'm pleased I got to be - and will remain - part of it.

All in all, my course was pretty great. I got to learn a lot about so many different areas of Archaeology from the science behind it to the more anthropological aspects of it. I visited museums quite extensively, I got to research and write about pretty much anything I was interested in, and I got the opportunity to do in-field practical archaeological work. Learning about the art and architecture of ancient Greece and how it changed over time to learning how the Caribbean Islands were "discovered" and thus fought over for years, to learning how to test soil samples to learning how Buddhism became the religion it is today; it was all so insightful and incredibly interesting to discover. Although my degree made me turn down a different path, looking more at religion and the process various religions have gone through over time, Archaeology was the catalyst for that interest developing and it's definitely something I'm going to go back to in the future. As some of you may know, I am teaching at the moment but I'm hoping in the near future to expand my academic knowledge in Archaeology and Religion and eventually the dream one day would be to lecture in these subjects at university but only time will tell, huh?

- A.
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