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Holly

Geoarchaeologist

Wessex Archaeology

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  • Video »
  • Case Study »

    Typically, my role as a geoarchaeologist involves supervising drilling teams out on site to collect sediment data, in the form of borehole cores, which I take back to the Wessex Archaeology laboratory to interpret and describe. I then enter the sediment data into industry standard software to create 2D and 3D deposit models mapping the subsurface topography beneath a site. The aim of this is to re-construct past landscapes so we can understand how humans interacted within their environment in the past. In doing so, we can predict where the archaeology might be today and map deposits in which the archaeology – if present – will be best preserved!

  • Did you know? »
    • Archaeology provides us with the opportunity to learn about past cultures through the study of artefacts, animal bones and sometimes human bones. Studying these artefacts helps to provide us with some insight about what life was like for people who left behind no written record.
    • Archaeologists protect culturally significant sites and artefacts, by safely excavating them and preserving them for us to learn from them.
  • Routes »

    Most professional archaeologists have a degree, and many also have a postgraduate qualification. You can do degree courses in archaeology, as well as those specialising in different aspects of the work, like:

    • conservation
    • environmental archaeology
    • human evolution
    • forensic investigation
    • archaeological science

    There are various routes into working in commercial archaeology. Most people now have an archaeology degree although many more experienced, and often older individuals, have many years of experience of working on archaeological excavations. Most people normally start off working as a field archaeologist, although this is not always the case.

  • Entry Requirements »

    You’ll usually need:

    • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
    • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

    Most archaeology companies now want prospective employees to have an archaeology degree or considerable experience in working in archaeology. For new starters though, an archaeology (or relevant degree, for example environmental subjects) degree is essential. It also helps if you are a member of CIfA (the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists) and have a full driving license. If you’re working on archaeological sites you will normally need a CSCS card, although some employers can arrange these for staff once they start. If you’re looking to go into a specific area of archaeology (say osteology for example) then you will most likely need to have an osteology related degree and considerable experience, unless you can apply for a training/graduate position.

    Most archaeology degrees run student fieldschools which are often a great way of getting some practical training in archaeological excavation.

  • Skills and Knowledge »

    For my role in the Geomatics Department the skills and knowledge needed are:

    • An understanding of survey data, both in terms of how archaeological surveys are carried out in the field, and also how to process and interpret this data
    • Technical skills in being able to use survey equipment such as GPS and Total Stations
    • Being able to use AutoCAD and GIS based software
    • Be a good communicator
    • Have an understanding of 3D data
    • Understanding of the significance and importance of archaeological data
    • Knowledge of archaeological periods, theory and practice
    • Attention to detail

  • 10 reasons why »
    • No two days are the same
    • You get the chance to be the first person to see something which hasn’t been seen for thousands of years
    • You can actually come face to face with history
    • It’s such a broad subject and covers many different topics
    • If you work in the field you can spend a lot of time outside
    • Archaeologists are usually really nice people!
    • It’s a massive privilege to be able to work so closely with objects/sites that are hundreds of years old and to be able to tell their story
    • You get a preview, first-hand viewing of the past.
    • It’s an important job to keep the past alive and preserved for others’ learning.
    • You are in the important position of discovering new information about the past.

  • Other roles that may interest you »

    You may find it useful to join a professional body like the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists.

    With experience, you may be able to progress to a senior role like site supervisor or director.

    You could also specialise in teaching or preservation.

    Related roles include:

    • Ecologist
    • Landscape surveyor
    • Historical researcher
    • Conservator
  • Useful Links »

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We can visualise what the topography looked like at different points in time when humans interacted with it.