January 27, 2021
This year, we had the pleasure of bestowing the 2021 Foot Soldier Award on Dr. Paul Zimmerman of the New York City Society. Dr. Zimmerman received the award at our new Society Sunday event that took place on January 3. Society Sunday kicked off our virtual Annual Meeting and was hosted by the AIA Societies Committee. It brought together AIA members and the general public for an educational and enjoyable day of archaeological programming.
We wanted to get to know Dr. Zimmerman better so we asked him a few questions. We hope you enjoy reading his responses as much as we did!
What interests you about archaeology?
I’m endlessly fascinated by the way that archaeology merges social sciences and history with the so-called “hard” sciences. It’s a field that for over 100 years has been continuously refining and redefining itself by embracing new methodological approaches to fieldwork, lab work, interpretation, and publication. It brings us together to contemplate how people in the past lived, and helps us build an understanding of what makes us human. In its practice it affords multiple points of entry, with all manner of specialists working in their own ways toward that goal—and that, in turn, attracts interest in our work for a similarly broad range of reasons. Also, I’ve found that it’s a lot of fun.
How did you find out about the AIA?
I’m not sure how I first learned of the AIA, but it was probably through ARCHAEOLOGY magazine in my youth. Certainly, my interest in the AIA as an organization grew in graduate school when I’d page through the Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin like a kid with a toy catalog before Christmas.
What made you decide to get more involved with the New York Society?
A longtime friend, Dr. Ellen Morris, was resigning her position on the New York Society Board, and invited me to join in her place. Though I hold a PhD in archaeology, I’m not active in the field, so joining the Board gave me a way to engage with a broad range of scholars and interested lay people in a deeper and more consistent manner than I could as merely an audience member at local lectures. As a firm believer in the value of public outreach and engagement, as well as a reasonably-adept technologist, I’ve embraced the challenge of improving the New York Society’s communication with its members. Hopefully these improvements have attracted new members as well.