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by Rachel Strohl

Its 11:30 up on the Tel and you have found nothing all day. You’ve been beating at the ground only to be stopped by nothing but rocks and soil dumped by another archaeologist years ago, making anything found unusable for contextual information. And then it happens. You find something, perhaps an amphora jar handle, or some ivory carved piece. They say that there is no better feeling than this, uncovering an artefact in the field. However, I would counter that argument. To this amateur archaeologist, there is no better joy than the joy of understanding.

The joy of understanding comes from understanding what you are finding in the field. It’s the joy that comes from correctly identifying the type of vessel that a particular pottery sherd is from, or being able to tell slag, a byproduct of metal production, from plain rocks. Because when you understand, it means that you are starting to gain more and more knowledge in your field. You move from the grunt laborer to a respected person of knowledge.

I have wanted to teach for a long time now. I love academia and school more than anyone else I know. So when people started coming up to me with questions about what they were finding, I was delightfully surprised. People were coming to recognize my ability to identify objects in the field, and I was starting to realize my career dream. To me, there is nothing better than finally achieving something you have worked so hard for. And I believe that I am starting to see the fruits of my labor in school. My love for learning and understanding what is going on around me has come to manifest itself in the field, and my dream of being able to teach others has become a reality. So here I make the argument that the true joy of archaeology is not digging up some long-lost artefact, but being able to be a source of knowledge to those you dig with. The true joy is the joy of understanding.

Rachel Strohl
About Rachel Strohl

1 Comment

  • Jennifer Munro
    3:23 PM - 6 August, 2017

    Lovely picture, and a great blog – thanks Rachel!

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The Joy of Understanding