By Rachel Jenson
I have always been entranced by the possibilities archaeology presented as a career. The idea that I would be able to travel for a living while experiencing cultures, both alive today and from the past, seemed like the perfect job. Working in St. Kitts has only enhanced that.
Before leaving for the field school, my daydreams consisted of stumbling upon a great and ancient secret of the past in the same fashion as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Even though that hasn’t happened, the experience has been much more fulfilling and possibly more exciting. I’ve learned so much from not only Dr. Ahlman, but from my peers and the culture of St. Kitts, too. From the process of archaeology and importance of scientific method to how to interact and interpret different finds, everything has been an indescribable experience. It is hard labor at times, but also so rewarding to be able to see these tangible pieces of the past and see how the island has changed since then.
The best way Dr. Ahlman has described the work is we are giving a voice to those who aren’t in the history books. It may not be a shipwreck or some lost civilization but it is just as important. I have observed the way our director talks to some of the local people about our project. Even though they are sometimes unsure of our intentions as soon as they hear how much this means to him, the archaeological community, and everything we are finding, they become more invested in the project.
The only thing that I would change about our trip is the unfortunate theft that occurred. We got to our site Monday morning and a lot of our tools were missing. The disbelief and frustration was tangible, but we still moved forward. I have always been impressed with the reputation archaeologists have for improvising and I believe we certainly lived up to it. By finding burned buckets and even an old 1/16 in screen that was falling apart we were able to keep digging for the day. It was slow work but I am proud of our group, TA, and director for being so level-headed, and how willing everyone was to continue on. I could not have asked to be with a better group of people to learn from.
There is no way I could describe how much this experience means to me or how much I have grown and learned. I certainly have more of an appreciation for what archaeology means to others and everything it might be able to do in the future. My hope is that I can contribute to this growth of knowledge in history, and that one day everyone will understand that context and the information gained from a site is more important that the materials. We may all have different backgrounds and cultures but that does not mean we cannot learn from each other, grow as one world with many incredible aspects, as the human race.
Rachel Jenson is a junior majoring in Anthropology at Texas State University. During the Spring 2015 semester she volunteered at CAS, helping catalog our library. For more information about the CAS volunteer program, visit our website volunteer page: http://cas.anthropology.txstate.edu/students/volunteer