One of the great things about archaeology is that, since it’s the study of life in the past in all it’s iterations, there’s a plethora of things to become an expert on within the field.
One of the bad things about archaeology? There’s a plethora of things to become an expert on within the field…and it’s a bit overwhelming!
So here’s a bit of advice for anyone just starting out in archaeology and thinking of starting to specialist in a specific subject or subfield.
Alright…so how do I get started?
Get yourself immersed! There’s a lot more to archaeology than one thinks. The best way to start is to look into things you’re already interested in – for example, archaeogaming has taken off as an exciting new area of research. Are you more into plants? Archaeobotany might be best for you. Always been a fan of animals, perhaps you have some zoology background? Well, join me in zooarchaeology!
How do I become an expert, then?
Again – get yourself immersed! Once you find a specific area of research you find interesting, start reading up on the literature. What’s been done in the field already? What hasn’t? That could be where you come in!
And why do you, Alex, feel qualified to give advice on this?
Well, I’ve found myself ping-ponging between lots of different subfields within archaeology. In the past 5 years alone, I went from a BA degree in classical archaeology with the intention of specialising in Hellenic archaeology, to a MSc in archaeological sciences with a focus on zooarchaeology. Between all of this, I’ve bounced from wanting to become a excavation supervisor in the arctic to an underwater archaeologist working on Viking Age sites.
Specialising in a particular subject or subfield can be a great way to show expertise that may put you at the forefront for certain jobs. More importantly, though, it’s a great way to take something you enjoy outside of archaeology and incorporate into your academic studies and work!