Penn State's Archaeological Field School
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Matt Veres

Major: Archaeological Science
Minor: none
Hometown: Wexford, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I heard about the College of the Liberal Arts Enrichment Funds, when I was discussing financials for the summer with a friend.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The five weeks have been an intensive, hands-on dive into the world of fieldwork. We worked on a pre-Civil War farmstead in central Pennsylvania. The days involved laying out excavation pits, digging (in 5cm increments), and sifting through the removed soil to try and recover any artifacts that we could find. These included glass, nails, ceramics, brick/mortar/plaster, and bones. We had seven-hour days, and worked whether it was rain or shine. We also were in labs cleaning and sorting the items that we discovered. The students and staff were all great. Overall, it has been an amazing experience, and one that I would do again.

"The experience was enriching in ways for which I was not prepared. Working towards a common research goal, as part of a team was extremely rewarding."

How did this experience impact you academically?

The excavations opened my eyes to the reality involved with fieldwork. Even pursuing an academic path in archaeology, being out in the field to do research is normally needed and done over summers and during breaks. We had staff with knowledge bases in human physiology, faunal analysis, and ceramics. All of this specialization went a long way in picking up possible areas of interest. It also helped me to better understand the breadth of knowledge among our faculty and graduate students at Penn State. I will keep pursuing a degree where I can continue to have this type of field experience. In this field, this will require me to continue on to grad school.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I took this summer field school to determine if I wanted to pursue a career path that would take me into the field. I can say with almost a certainty, that now I do. The experience was enriching in ways for which I was not prepared. Working towards a common research goal, as part of a team was extremely rewarding. It has peaked my interest in becoming a researcher, possibly a professor, where I can do field research over the summer, and analyze my findings during the year. A possible specialization might be trying to tie faunal analysis and diet into the study of the peopling of the Americas and paleo-Indians.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Any undergraduate student, pursuing a degree in CAMS or anthropology should definitely participate in the summer field school, or another dig abroad. It is essential that you know if fieldwork is right for you, before you pursue a degree that will require it.

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