Amanda Roman here again, to share a little bit about my thoughts on Experience. We are coming up on the end of our third week already, and oh the experiences I have had in the time so far. The goal of this trip for me was to get the experience of what it is like to be an actual archaeologist. I suppose when anyone goes to school for any subject they are going with the intent of using the education they receive in the real world someday after college. I always wanted to be an adventurous sort of scholarly person, a more refined type of Indiana Jones with a bit less chaos involved. However as time went on in my long career as a Carthage student I realized that I am already in the real world with a full time job, a husband and four kids. I began to think about things like can I really do this as a profession?
I appreciate the fact that the Carthage Classical Archeology program requires that a student must take field work as a class in order to graduate. I can say with certainty that this has been the best decision to come and Experience all that is involved in this profession. It is a necessary and important part of the process to discover if I can in fact pursue archeology as a career.
I can say I have experienced being an archeologist at least on an amateur level (although amateur, it is still going on my resume, Professor Ben Rubin said so). I knew that I needed to feel and learn the process and work involved in this profession in order to really appreciate what I was getting into. I get lots of jokes from people when they ask what my major is, jokes like “you know there are spiders right”? Or “How are you going to dig up a job”? Or even things like “But you’re a mom”! My response is always “Yes”, I am fully aware of all of this. However none of that detoured me I knew I needed to come and experience this amazing adventure. I came to see if I would even like it! I was terrified to think that I could be preparing myself for something I absolutely hate in the end. Therefore I came, I tried it, and after these last few weeks of unbearable heat, sweat, spiders, big spiders, dirt, rocks, rocks, and more rocks I can say I love it!
So far on this trip I have met undergrads with the same hopes and aspirations as me, professors that I have grown to admire and respect, scholars that I look at like celebrities, and just simply amazing people that exist in this tiny world of archeology. Our team started and finished our first square in 9 days. My supervisor Kevin Kellmes is an amazingly intelligent and driven undergrad at UNC that I have learned much about the archeological process from. I work next to some of the hardest working students from Carthage and St. John’s, and I am excited to wake up at 4A.M. every day because I am because I cannot wait to go see what we might find. Every day is hard work, but it is necessary work and someone has to do it.
I am grateful for the professors and their drive, the wonderful donors that believe in the project, and the volunteers that are so willing to show us the ropes in order that we might succeed in our endeavors as well. This is a necessary experience that anyone getting into must have, it is important and should always continue to be encouraged.
I believe that experiences in life define us more than anything else. One can come from all different ways of life and upbringing, yet no matter how one is raised it is all about the “things” in life that you experience that really shapes you, changes your center, and creates “The you” of the future. I know that when I leave here, I will be a better, more informed me than before I came. I am experiencing life here.
The spider death toll is currently at 25. Why won’t they leave me be!
Greetings from Omrit, Amanda Roman here to share some wrapping up thoughts. Today going through all of the books and articles I brought to read on other sites in the area, I ran across a book on a site called Banias I purchased about ten years ago. I do not know how I never noticed a few folded up pages in the back of the book I must have left long ago. I was about to throw them away until I read the date at the top of the pages. It was an email sent to me by Professor Dan Schowalter from Carthage College dated November 1st 2006! I started as a freshmen in fall of 2006! The email was encouraging me to join the Classics program and information on going to Omrit Israel. It was also an invitation to attend a lecture on Carthage’s campus held by Michael Nelson from McAllister College. I thought hmmm, I know Michael Nelson, he is a co-director of the Omrit dig, that’s Nellie! The email went on encouraging me to give the program and the trip a shot. I then looked on the back and realized I went to Nellie’s lecture ten years ago and I was just as excited then in my notes as I am today in the lectures and experiences I’ve had. Wow, what a discovery in an old book!
I am very glad I came back to Carthage, and followed the guidance of Professor Schowalter. It really has been a dream come true. I have crossed many things off of my bucket list, although Professor Schowalter says I’m too young to have a bucket list. I swam in the Mediterranean, I shopped at an ancient Souk (marketplace in Akko), I heard the call to prayer from the streets in the holy land, I have swam (rafted actually) in the Jordan, I visited Capernaum where Jesus stayed for many years, I walked in the sea of Galilee, and touched pottery with the makers finger prints still inside from two thousand years ago. The biggest accomplishment of all was just getting to Israel and digging in the sacred, ancient dirt I grew up romanticizing about. Yes, I dreamt of dirt! I made it here, only now that I have done what I set out to do, I am even hungrier for the next step in my life. I will be a senior and it is time for a new dream and a better plan.
All of the places we visited, and things we have done really allowed me to gain several perspectives of this country I had not otherwise been able to gain by reading or writing about it. Going to other dig sites in the region allowed me to see professionals that call this career their life in action. I work at a bank and I never thought about archeology as another job like profession. The reality is that there are plenty of people, in this small world of archeology, that have made their passions their jobs as well. I saw sites that were just being started, being finished, and some that are long finished and now national parks. There is a whole world of work that real people with real lives do. It is no longer fantastical for me, rather a feasible aspiration that I can definitely see myself doing for the rest of my life.
I have tried to learn as much as I possibly could on this trip. Not wasting a single moment. I have inserted myself into every step of the excavation process with my supervisor Kevin. I asked if I could shadow him whenever possible, learning how to top plan (draw the “stuff” before digging it out), take elevations, draw bulks, construct daily narratives, and then create a final report after a square has been completed. I also wanted to learn the beginning to end process of cataloging artifacts. I excavated a layer on my own after my supervisor was comfortable with my knowledge, I found lots of partially intact pottery, I tagged everything, washed the pottery, read and sorted the pottery and now I am reconstructing it before it gets packed away for the year. This beginning to end process really was amazing in teaching me how meticulous and hard work this career path is. I love it! I heart Ceramics by the way!
We will be packing up this week and since our second square is now complete and all artifacts are brought in from the field I can spend more time in the lab getting some more instruction from Jen. Professor Jen is amazing, she is what I want to be when I grow up (I’m 28), she is our Ceramicist at Omrit, a wife and mother, a professor, and she digs in Egypt as well. She has taken me under her gracious wing to show me how to love ceramics. I may even write my thesis on something ceramic like. She has given me lots of guidance along with all of the professors here, on what my next move in academia might be. There are many possibilities available, it all depends on me and how far I am willing to go to turn this dream into a reality, and it all starts with a new plan! Omrit is amazing, the staff, the bakfar, the work, and the site itself. Omrit is not just a dig site, but a place for many, which is the beginning of something more. Going home will be hard, but I will go home a newly motivated woman with a new agenda… watch out world.
Also my spider death toll is now up to 32! I think I am officially over my fear of those nasty, creepy, crawly things!