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Being a Freshman

Sureyya's Journey, Part 5


University Classroom (University of Calgary)

University Classroom (University of Calgary)

D'Arcy Norman
Being a freshman after changing careers is a challenge. I.T. sysop Sureyya Kose has decided to change careers from Information Technology to Archaeology. In this part of Sureyya's Journey Sureyya describes her first taste of archaeology studies.

Sureyya’s Journey


As noted in the journals previous, switching to an arts course with an engineering background is a tad bit difficult where time is concerned. To do so, you need a bridging course in liberal arts here in Australia, taking up a year of study before you are accepted into the Bachelor of Arts degree. The thing with the liberal arts course is—it's full-time study, basically 9-5, and because I need to work for necessary survival... damn necessary survival... it meant I would have to opt for part-time study in the liberal arts course. Meaning two years of study... meaning a heck of a lot of time before I could even think about arch adventures in some remote desert. I kept trying to apply for the degree course in various universities anyway however, trying mid-year intakes as well. I tried writing a couple of letters to the heads of departments and tried being a general pain in the arse. It works sometimes, this time it didn't. Great. I guess there's a time for everything.

This year a university advertised on their website that there were places available in Arts for direct entry. Apparently universities do this here and there and it's the best time for mature age students to apply. That is of course if places are available, the sooner you apply the better when this occurs, as those spaces are taken up fast. My sister told me about it one morning in March, as she applied and got in, I went up to the university and enquired and to my surprise was enrolled that very morning also. Suffice to say I'm surprised at how easy it was...I didn't have to grovel or anything...curious is it not? I don't think I'll question it too much and just be darn glad to get going.

In School, At Last!

Having finally gotten into university, I've now had a few weeks of Archaeology lectures and tutorials. All I can say is-- so far so good! The assignments are short, simple and straightforward.

The emphasis has been on the library, so much so that the first assignment had at least 3 questions dedicated to it. I dare say all the students duly get the importance of the library now and know how to conduct research within it, so help them god.

So far we've looked at case studies on excavations that are being conducted in various locations so that it can provide a context for the archaeological practices being introduced.

They are:

  • FxJj43, an one and a half million year old site in Kenya, led by Dr Nicola Stern.
  • Wadi-Hammeh-27, one of the earliest villages in Jordan, led by Dr Phillip Edwards.
  • Marki Alonia, A Bronze Age village in Cyprus, led by Dr David Frankel and Dr Jenny Webb.
  • Yilou River Survey Project in China led by Dr Li Liu
  • Colonial whaling stations in southeastern Australia.

These case studies are interesting because at each site there is a different method of excavation being conducted. There is no definite, set way of excavating a particular site as it varies from one to another and depends on the geography and data recorded from field surveys. And here i thought all you needed was a trowel and hat. The way the sites were surveyed and the research conducted for each one was of a different nature also. Each site is different and a survey needs to be conducted to discover which excavation method is best for a given site. We've discussed surface surveys, aerial surveys and remote sensing surveys. Open area excavations, trenches, block excavations. Excavation holes are called 'units' or 'pits' in the Archae world, there are so many ways to dig, and so many different tools in which to do it besides a trowel. A bulldozer for example, Cool huh?

The City of Ubar

The other fascinating case study found in the prescribed text is how the ancient city of Ubar was found. Called the 'Atlantis of the Sands' by T.E Lawrence, the legend of the lost city of Ubar was passed down for 1,700 years. It was found in the 80's when Nick Clapp obtained the co-op of NASA to ground terrain imaging (SAR) radar equipment that takes photographic images from a space shuttle. From the images taken an ancient caravan road was discovered which led to the uncovering of the lost 'mythic' city. It's amazing what state of the art technology goes into discovering the past, let alone the broad spectrum of scientific fields that contribute to it.

Archaeology is a science the whole scientific community can have a say in and contribute to. I think it's going to be very interesting to obtain the help of and collaborate with so many different experts in different scientific fields. As I've found recently archaeologists are employed in forensic investigations. What a diverse science.

Until next time...

More of Sureyya’s Journey

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