Student Notebooks

Blackfriary, Ireland: Savannah

July 3, 2015

Hello all! I am Savannah Sewell from Oshawa, Ontario and I attend McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. I’m studying anthropology and archaeology. I’m really interested in medical anthropology, infant mortality, and the treatment of pregnancy cross-culturally. I decided to come to the Blackfriary site mostly because I didn’t want to go somewhere warm. I found that there was a lot of bio-archaeology and was pretty much one of the only sites that guaranteed experience with burials. I also knew it would be great to come learn the basics and gain a range of excavation techniques as well as bio-archaeology experience. I came independently and emailed one of the staff members on site. The communication was great and everyone made me feel really welcome.

I have been here for a total of four weeks and I have learned so much! The first two weeks included: general excavation techniques, troweling, lots of bone washing, learning how to properly fill out the paperwork and forms, and how to plan and recorded everything. Towards the end of my second week a skull was uncovered in Cutting 10 and we began to trowel down the soil layer by layer. By the end of that next week we had gotten to the level of the burial and were able to excavate it, clean it, record the burial, and then lift it.

The staff are amazing here! A few days before I left for the site I was freaking out and very nervous. I messaged a few of the staff here and they were very encouraging and comforting. I really feel at home here. Everyone is approachable here as well. Any questions you have, they get answered and you never feel like your question is stupid.

My favorite part of this whole experience would have to be the people I have met here. I enjoy archaeology and am very glad that I have chosen a career I love coming to every morning, but I have found that it is really the people that make it for me. Coming and seeing everyone every day you get really close with the people you work with and those bonds create a great work environment. I definitely have accomplished my goals in coming here. I have gained a solid basis for excavation practices. I would recommend this experience to any and every one! I have found that this field school in particular is very dedicated to education. All the supervisors and TA’s are great about giving advice, basic pointers, and tips to the students. I feel like I am now more effective as an archaeologist as a result of my training here.

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