by Zachary Head, 2023 SCDNR Archaeology Intern
Why I chose this internship
History has always been an important topic in my life. Since my youngest years, I have always been intrigued by the wonders and mysteries history has had to offer. One of the main objectives that has covered my mind is that everything has a story behind it. No matter how big or small. I enjoy studying these artifacts and understanding what the uses behind them are. This may be known as the leading transition to having an interest in archaeology. It was the perfect job, one that actually discovers the past. A job that learns of societies past, the historical records. That is what I wanted, to be an archaeologist. For many years of being asked what I wanted to be when grown up, I always responded with the simple response of an archaeologist. This dream continued to spread, until woken up as a reality in January of 2023. My Mom (a nurse practitioner) had a patient who was a professor at the University of South Carolina. She had told him about my interest in archaeology, which followed up to him inviting me to a dig that February, from there I learned about the internship.
What I learned from the past this summer
This summer, my broad understanding of archaeology had increased in knowledge. I had always thought that archaeologists were solo, rarely working with other fields of scientists. I had never imagined that archeologists would work with such a variety of different scientific fields. Archaeologists also seem to always be prepared for disasters. They are always thinking ahead for the next disaster to come, and what to do to save their artifacts. One of the main objectives of a disaster plan is to always save loaned artifacts first; no matter their value or cost. The reason for this is that the loaner will still loan the organization artifacts in the future. It also looks bad on the organization to others if it is unable to return a loaned artifact. For the most part, archaeologists are known to spend most of their time in the lab. Throughout the internship, I spent most of my time washing and sorting artifacts from a site called Fort Frederick. I have processed artifacts such as: pipe stems, sherds (pieces of pottery), shards (pieces of glass), bones, metal, brick, mortar, oyster drillers, clams, whelk, beads, buttons, right and left valve oysters, etc. As interns, we are known to process all of this, and bag it up. We then give it to our supervisors who put further research into the artifacts. There are times where we spend the whole day processing artifacts. It is a lot, but it is a part of archeology which may lead to more understanding in the days to come.
Study the past. Look to the future
This archeology internship has taught me a lot for the future. I originally had taken this internship to help me decide on my future. I have not always been sure if archaeology is what I have wanted to pursue. After taking this internship, I have decided that archaeology may not be the field I want to be in as an adult, but that doesn’t mean that I no longer have interest in history. Looking forward, I am unsure what I want to be, maybe a job in the ecology or a mathematical field. This job has given me an idea of how it is to work over the summer, and the responsibility of working for someone. I believe that I may be able to use some of these aspects of working in the future. I may not have an interest in archaeology, but this internship has led me one step closer to discovering what I want to be in my future.
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