Alex Fitzpatrick - How Sleeping on Rocks for a Month Changed My Life as an Archaeologist
Okay…so I wasn’t sleeping on rocks for a month, but this photo of me taking a quick nap as I help excavate the site of Swandro on the island of Rousay (part of the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland) was too funny for me NOT to use.
That said, this fieldwork did change my life. Prior to this excavation, I was planning on being a classical archaeologist planted firmly in the humanities and arts. Making my first ever journey to Europe for my first ever archaeological excavation changed my trajectory, however. Here, I saw up close how archaeology could be done practically and with scientific methods. I had never even thought about using archaeology in the lab! Cut to a year later - I’ve finishing my Bachelor of Arts degree and am moving to the United Kingdom (a whole ocean away from my home in New York!) to start a Masters in Archaeological Sciences, even though I didn’t necessarily have the background for it (the last time I did science was in high school!).
Taking the leap to do fieldwork ultimately set me on a truly rewarding (and sometimes scary) path to my current work as a PhD student in zooarchaeology. I never thought I could be a scientist, but that summer of fieldwork in Scotland showed me that I could do it! It was a lot of hard work (hence the naps), but it was absolutely worth the risk. Read more about my research on my website.