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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Archaeology Exam Prep

th“Raiders of the Lost Ark” it’s not. Popular TV shows on treasure-hunting-as-archaeology it’s not. In addition to my son’s undergraduate and my graduate studies, in our spare time we’re studying with a local archaeological program

Focused on lab, field, and survey, it’s soon going to be time for exams. And study, we must. Never mind if we’re already pressed with work, our own research papers, and everyday life. This intensive program is pressing us to press forward. So we put together a plan to finish our tests.

It’s been three years, two of them active, and now all that remains are the exams, written and artifacts1lab. Many of our fellow students have taken over ten years to complete the same coursework—the lectures, dozens of articles and textbooks, the weeks of historic and prehistoric fieldwork, the labors in the lab with artifacts.

We have washed, bagged, labelled and cataloged. We have hiked, surveyed and mapped. We have measured, excavated and recorded.

projects-waterProfessors threw animal bones in front of us and instructed us to tell a story based on joint size, cut or gnaw marks. The two of us sifted through seeds, nuts and spice pods during an ethnobotanical lecture. Microscopic beads and tiny, wire-wrapped straight pins slipped through our screening and sifting process. Spiders, ticks and snakes have either lain in wait or jumped down our shirts.

We’ve been through it, to say the least, freezing on icy, windy days, slogging through the clay_piperain, incurring heat and sunstroke. All in the name of archaeology.

And now the exams. Lithics, prehistoric pottery, historic pottery, bottle glass, metals, ethnozoological and ethnobotanical. Flake anatomy with striking platform, bulb of percussion, lines of force, dorsal and ventral sides. Basic rock types common in local stone tool assemblages—chalcedony, chert, jasper, quartz, rhyolite—note to self: chalcedony has the dark specks in it if it begins to appear like jasper….

bottlesTemper types and surface treatment in prehistoric pottery, along with how these would be analyzed to learn about time period, cultural association, and use. Firing temperatures and periods of manufacture for various kinds of historic ceramics—earthenware, stoneware and procelain. Decorative attributes and basic glaze types from incised and transfer-printed to tin enamel glazed and slipped.

I flip through another book on historic glass to examine the pontils, mold seams and Fragments embossing, forcusing on the diagnostic features along with the basic anatomy and bottle functions. Was this a bottle for sauce, spirits or medicine? What do the colors and tooling marks tell us about dating? Hand-turned, mold-blown, string rims?

Different manufacture dates for various nails danced through my dreams at night, along with bone tools such as turkey bone awls and deer bone beamers. Delft, Westerwald, scratch blue and Chinese porcelains flip like a rolodex through my consciousness.

All we can do is prep our best and wonder where is Indiana Jones to swoop in and rescue us when we need him?

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