Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Alumna Profile: Hilary W. ('09) at Tufts University

After graduating from UE in 2009 with a double major in Archaeology and Art History, I almost immediately drove across the country to New Mexico in order to take a summer position as the on-site archaeologist at Philmont Scout Ranch, the Disney World of Boy Scout camps. For three months, I was the director of an excavation of an Anasazi and Mexican homestead site on the ranch (I am surveying the site in this photo), and responsible for designing the excavation, training the staff, educating and supervising the scouts, processing and recording the finds, and writing a final report summarizing not only the work but also my analysis of the site. While this sounds like every archaeologist’s dream come true, I found the position to be frustrating; disagreements between my supervisors and I about the importance of using proper archaeological practices resulted in continuous struggles. Additionally, I had only participated in three other excavations previously and did not feel qualified to direct my own dig.

Soon after this, I headed to Massachusetts to start the MA program in Classical Archaeology at Tufts University. I am currently about to embark on my second (and hopefully final) year in the program. I have already significantly improved my Latin skills, of which Dr. Thomas would be proud, and have a more thorough understanding of the science and analysis involved in the field.

Hilary at Pompeii
This past summer, I served as an Assistant Trench Supervisor on Saint Anselm College’s excavation at Coriglia, Castel Viscardo, near Orvieto, Italy. Originally thought to have been an Etruscan healing sanctuary, the site was later utilized by the Romans as a bath complex. My particular trench housed the almost intact remains of a vasca, or basin, which was later filled in with rubbish deposits. Through this position, I not only gained more experience as a supervisor of a site, but I also became very familiar with various types of pottery and roofing tiles, as I was in charge of counting and weighing brick, pan tiles, and curved tiles.

Once I finish my MA, I hope to enroll in an MA or MSc program in the UK for Practical Archaeology in order to pursue a career in Contract Archaeology in the United Kingdom. Perhaps I will eventually pursue a PhD; however, for now, I’m content to follow my passion for the field and get my hands dirty again as quickly as possible.

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