What it takes to be an archaeologist

Discovering lost cities, digging tombs, unearthing treasures of gold dressed like the colleague below! This is the ordinary 9 to 5 workday of an archaeologist OR the prevailing misconception that people tend to have about archaeologists. To put it in another way, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft are only fictional heroes, bearing no resemblance to reality!

OK, you will ever die from boredom working as an archaeologist, but working on the field can occupy just 1/5 of your time and in some cases -like e.g working in a museum- digging in the dirt is an experience only read in adventure novels.

However, archaeologists work in a wide variety of settings and do much more –if any- than dig!

Archaeologist’s work is to manage, protect and interpret archaeological sites and findings; Manage collections of artefacts, work in educational programs, curate exhibitions or do administration work including editing reports, managing budgets and coordinating funding programs, all lie in the core of the profession. Methodic analysis, assuring that fieldwork and desktop work is meeting research and administration standards, lies much more in the working territory of the archaeologist than treasure hunting.

I can no easily think of another discipline other than archaeology weaving between hard-rock science, the human sciences’ more philosophical approach, technical administration skills and the duty to serve society. That is why to call yourself an archaeologist takes much more than acquiring a university degree; it takes time, experience, multidisciplinary knowledge, organisational abilities and the constant notion that you are just a tiny dot in researching the endless line of human history.

And a hint for the perspective archaeologists: you don’t meet a lot of rich archaeologists, not strange for a job that back in the days used to be a hobby for the rich and in societies like ours where culture and knowledge are not exactly in the forefront of human needs.

(original drawing by team associate Dimitris Theocharidis)