BAJR Federation Archaeology
The School of Jack - Printable Version

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The School of Jack - Jack - 30th May 2013

Digging 101: [SIZE=3]A guide to being a 'site assistant' on a commercial dig
Course Introduction:[/SIZE]


It has come to my attention that sadly, many of the basic archaeological skills that us older lags were 'gifted' with by an even older generation of diggers are not being passed on to the younger generations.

So in an attempt to remedy this (and to hopefully spice up the forum) I present........


The School of Jack
[SIZE=2] The no-holds barred, tell-it-how it-is, distance-learning course of archaeological digging.
Obviously, what follows is an ego-centric (possibly megalomaniac) view of how to dig...........but that is how I (and others) were taught.

The examples that follow are not directed at any one individual, but at archetypes constructed from several real people.

Feel free to ignore, disagree with the lessons or rant at the School of Jack, but at your own peril.......experience is the universes great teacher.

Also, even The School of Jack can be wrong. Your opinions are important to The School of Jack. We value your feedback, every negative comeback will be noted and filed carefully away (in a cylindrical paper storage device) so that the lessons dictated by The School of Jack can evolve over time as the world inevitably changes.

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The School of Jack - Jack - 30th May 2013

Lesson 1: Everybody digs

[SIZE=2][/SIZE][SIZE=2][/SIZE]Everybody digs. It is a basic part of the job. If you don't dig, you can't be an archaeologist. Go home.

'In my unit I have one rule.......EVERYBODY DIGS! If you don't I'll kill you myself'
- Maximus Appilus (The prophet)

I'll start by saying most diggers get it. But in the past I've come across a few folk trying to get out of the hard graft that is archaeology, sometimes as a blatant attempt to be given more prestigious features (burials) to dig, sometimes just through bare-faced laziness. It seems some people feel the world owes them a living and they should be promoted up the greasy pole immediately.

But let's face it, archaeology is hard work. Obviously, everyone has their own levels of fitness, levels of aptitude and level of physical prowess........but everyone can try. It is through trying that we get better, it is through hard work our bodies become adapted to the job.

I know this because when I started digging I was saggy, flabby and weak. But within a year or so, through determination, encouragement from supervisors and diggers alike and sheer love of the job....I became an archaeologist.

'On your first night of dig club your ass is a wad of cookie dough. Within a few weeks your carved from stone.'
- Jimmy (the nonchalant)


The School of Jack - BAJR - 30th May 2013

The new unit diggers were a bit less flabby than the last lot.
Thanks to Jacks School of Archaeology!
[Image: article-0-09DEC2BD000005DC-700_634x315.jpg]

and why not. perhaps we should check muscle definition and upper body strength as well as the CV Smile

I wholeheartedly agree about digging. You can and will.!


The School of Jack - Dinosaur - 30th May 2013

Sadly am restricted to small pits these days (bad shoulder)...does that count as treasure hunting, oh your Jack-ness?


The School of Jack - kevin wooldridge - 31st May 2013

Its a fine idea, but......how many times did you work on a site where the otherwise distant supervisor/director applied the 'Everyone Digs' principle to your area of the site; came over and in a (short lived) frenzy of activity, messed up something that previously was making sense and gradually reducing, leaving you the clearing up to do....never really sure whether they were trying to 'set the pace' of work that you should be achieving or genuinely at a completer loss as to what was going on....

Anyway I think Lesson 1 should be entitled 'Everyone Digs, but its better left to those that can....!!'


The School of Jack - BAJR - 31st May 2013

Kevin he speak truth... ... addendum to lesson 1


The School of Jack - Jack - 31st May 2013

Ah, The School of Jack recognises and welcomes your comment Kevin. You are however jumping ahead to the second year course....

Specifically Lesson 95 'so you think your ready to run a site?' subsection 2 'If a supervisor is digging, they aren't doing enough checking.'

kevin wooldridge Wrote:Anyway I think Lesson 1 should be entitled 'Everyone Digs, but its better left to those that can....!!'

Indeed. I refer you to the first line of the lesson.

'Everybody digs. It is a basic part of the job. If you don't dig, you can't be an archaeologist. Go home.'

The School of Jack has modified the course introduction for the purposes of clarity on this forum


The School of Jack - Dinosaur - 31st May 2013

kevin wooldridge Wrote:Its a fine idea, but......how many times did you work on a site where the otherwise distant supervisor/director applied the 'Everyone Digs' principle to your area of the site; came over and in a (short lived) frenzy of activity, messed up something that previously was making sense and gradually reducing, leaving you the clearing up to do....never really sure whether they were trying to 'set the pace' of work that you should be achieving or genuinely at a completer loss as to what was going on....

I've always called that 'finding the proper edges' - should only properly be applied just before tea-break and the shout of "clear up your loose", ideally uttered by the same supervisor, as he/she returns their guilty trowel to their back pocket and turn away from the mountain of fresh spoil... :face-approve:Big Grin


The School of Jack - Jack - 31st May 2013

Lesson 2: Professionalism[SIZE=2]

Welcome to the working world. Gone is the comforting bussom of university, gone is the protective embrace of your college, department and tutor.......
The working world is a harsh mistress. She expects much and explains little. Like nature she protects those who protect themselves. The weak and infirm are cut down so the fit can survive.

'For something to live, something else must die.'
- Gavaclese (fist of Aries)

This lesson is so important to the budding commercial archaeologist (The School of Jack prefers the term circuit digger), that it has been split into three sub sections: 1) Attendance; 2) Craftsmanship; 3) Attitude.

The lessons of professionalism don't just apply to the circuit digger, they are important throughout all the stages of an archaeologists career. (See years two and three syllabus).

Though the world of commercial archaeology exists behind a screen that somewhat protects it from the wider working world. The two intersect allowing the harsh realities, unspoken rules of thumb and ruthlessness of the construction industry to bleed through.

Now some of you will be aware of the harshness of the working world through your upbringing, part-time jobs to support your education etc. but it has come to the attention of The School of Jack that an increasingly large number of new diggers are blissfully unaware of these realities and receive a 'cold hard shock' on arrival to site. So read on, and heed the lessons passed on down from the fabled old lags.

'I must be paying some kind of karmic cost for being such a skallywag when I was a kid.'
- Mr Swear
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The School of Jack - Dinosaur - 31st May 2013

Jack Wrote:Specifically Lesson 95 'so you think your ready to run a site?' subsection 2 'If a supervisor is digging, they aren't doing enough checking.'

Doesn't that mean that the digging is therefore being done by the, on average, less experienced diggers? (and less of it) - of course depends on exactly how much time the supervisor spends checking paperwork, there's always the danger of them becoming the least experienced digger...and if the supervisor is in the hut checking, who's supervising the digging?

Also, since the modern digger seems unable to e.g. write their context sheets anywhere other than inside the hut (with the jenny running even in the middle of summer), isn't it a bit selfish the supervisor taking up critical recording space?