Jessica Edwards- 08′ Anthropology

Jessica Edwards

Archaeologist at Historic St Mary’s City, Maryland

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an archaeologist. As a kid I would stay up late watching documentaries on Discovery or TLC about ancient tombs and lost cities rediscovered and think to myself ” That’s what I want to do.”  My mom still tells people about how I used to bury my toys in the sand box so I could dig them up later. Yeah, when it came to archaeology, I was hooked.  My decision to attend Longwood University for a BS in Anthropology was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I wouldn’t trade a single experience at LU for anything.

I still remember the fist day of Anthro 101.  Dr. Jordan had us walk around the classroom like chimpanzees with the classroom door wide open, other students walking by looked at us like we’d lost our minds. I also remember Dr. Bates playing the first half of what I think was either Temple of Doom or Raiders of the lost Arc, where he made sure to straighten out any misconceptions we had about archaeology by telling us it was nothing like Indiana Jones…I was of course crushed by this.  Never the less, I stuck around and after many, many classes and 2 Awesome Fields Schools, I graduated with my BS and was ready to take the archaeology world by storm.

That storm ended up being more of a micro burst, but it did eventually catch wind.

I Was eventually able to get jobs at JRIA (James River Institute for Archaeology) and at WMCAR the (William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research) doing contractual archaeology. This was my first introduction to CRM (Cultural Resource Management ) Archaeology, something  much different from what I learned in my Field schools. I worked doing CRM archaeology for a while, along with a few other jobs, before I decided that in order to further my chances at staying in archaeology I would need a Masters degree. So in 2010, after working for a year to save money, I traveled across the pond to the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom where I began a Masters program in Archaeology.

I greatly recommend going to the UK to study Archaeology, either through a study exchange or for a whole degree program, because it was one of the best experiences of my life. the UK and Europe is so rich with history that its possible to go see a Roman fort as well as a medieval castle all in one day. My favorite experience during grad school was a 5 week Field school I did in Bulgaria on a Roman Hill Fort Site. It fulfilled one of my dreams of being able to work on an ancient Roman site. I recommend to anyone getting their Masters of archaeology over seas to take a field school if at all possible, its an opportunity you do not want to pass up.

After I officially received my Masters degree and said my good byes (for now) to the UK, I came back to the states and started back up with CRM archaeology, working for the Louis Berger group. CRM archaeology does have some negative stigmas attached to it, but if you find a good company that sticks to honest archaeological practices, it can be a great experience. I was able to travel a lot and see new places, as well as meet a lot of people, which helped me greatly when it came to job networking.  CRM archaeology also helps give you some GIS training, which is a must in the archaeology career field.

Currently, I am working as an Archaeologist at Historic St Mary’s City in southern Maryland, where I hope to stay for a while before moving on to my next great archaeological venture. I am profoundly grateful for my fortune in being able to remain working in archaeology.  I believe I have all of my anthro/archaeology professors from Longwood University and the University of Liverpool to thank in part for that.

One last piece of advice for anyone going into CRM archaeology…tecnu and duct tape are your best friends, never leave home without them.

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