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How to Build a Career in Archaeology

Written by Prakriti Panwar, a first-year undergraduate student

An archaeologist’s job involves much more than just digging. Writing, research, statistics, and data analysis are all integral parts as well.

By I Kid You Not , in Careers , at July 22, 2022 Tags: ,

Written by Prakriti Panwar, a first-year undergraduate student

What is archaeology?

According to Britannica, archaeology is defined as the study of the material remains of past human life and activities.

Archaeologists study all objects made by historic and prehistoric human beings that are buried. They then excavate, clean, sort, and analyze these objects to clearly understand the past civilisations.

What it involves

Archaeology is an interdisciplinary field that requires basic aptitude in math, science, English, and history.

An archaeologist’s job involves much more than just digging. Writing, research, statistics, and data analysis are all integral parts as well.

Skills and requirements

Archaeologists are expected to possess:

  • Good management skills – they often manage the logistics of collecting artifacts, cleaning, and analyzing them at the site.
  • Great communication skills – professionals have to share their findings through written or spoken word to others.
  • Archaeologists need to be comfortable with using technology since computer-aided designs (CAD) and geographical information systems (GIS) are used to produce simulations and record data.
  • Travel is also an essential part, depending on the specific job one takes up.

Education

The stream that one takes in grades 11 and 12 does not directly determine eligibility for an archaeology program.

That said, opting for humanities helps as it allows students to take up subjects such as history, anthropology, geography, etc.

  • Most archaeologists have an undergraduate degree (BA or BS) in anthropology or archaeology.
  • However, to become an archaeologist in India, people can also get their bachelor’s degree in history, geography, or cultural heritage.
  • Most institutions in India offer a degree in archaeology only at the post-graduate level.

Those keen on taking up archaeology from the very beginning can definitely find good undergraduate programs in India.

Here are some

  • Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and Ancient History)
  • Banaras Hindu University (Bachelor of Arts in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology)
  • Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (BA in archaeology and museology)
  • Delhi Institute of Heritage Research and Management (BA in Indian History Culture and Archaeology)

It must be noted that to become a marine archaeologist, earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering is a prerequisite.

Requirements..

To pursue archaeology in India, only a bachelor’s degree is not enough. A master’s degree is also required.

The admission criteria for pursuing a master’s in archaeology depends from college to college. While some institutions do not consider the major you earned your bachelor’s degree in, others specify their eligibility. In addition to entrance exams, certain institutions also require interviews.

At the master’s level, it is recommended to undertake a double degree in Archaeology as well as some other fields such as classical languages or history. This is because it keeps one’s options open to getting into the academic field as well. Obtaining a Ph.D. degree is advisable to become an academician.

To pursue a career in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or another state/govt archaeological institution, earning a Postgraduate Diploma at the Institute of Archaeology is a necessity. The institute first releases a merit list, after which eligible candidates are called for a written test and viva.

Internships/ early career

While one can work in the archaeology field immediately after obtaining their bachelor’s degree, they will be limited only to junior positions.

Field experience is important not only for succeeding in the field but also for pursuing higher education since some institutions need field experience for their master’s degree/Ph.D. eligibility. Most people usually do field work for 12-30 hours while obtaining their PhDs.

Countries like US and Canada have dedicated ‘Field Schools’ that run courses for 2-8 weeks wherein basic fieldwork and techniques such as site analysis, excavation, and survey methods are taught.

There are a lot of Indian institutions that employ archaeologists- the Architecture Survey of India being the most popular. Organizations like UNESCO also hire a lot of archaeologists and anthropologists.

Many public (and private) museums as well as universities, and research councils/organizations hire those working in the related fields.

The specific organization’s ‘job postings’ section on their website and the LinkedIn Job Search tool are some resources to get started.

Scope

In India, a career in archaeology is promising because the country has several historical sites.

Apart from working as an archaeologist, those with an archaeology degree can work as museum curators,  gallery curators, documentations specialists, historic building officers, heritage managers, lecturers, professional consultants, and much more.

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