A large central, but ruined tower, with low level walls in the foreground, and a beautiful blue sky beyond.

May 18, 2020, by Hannah O'Regan

What to do while you wait for university: Archaeology

If your A-levels have been cancelled, and you’re planning to start university in September, you might be feeling a bit at a loose end right now. We’ve put together some suggestions for things to do that will give you a head start for a degree in Archaeology, or just help to pass the time enjoyably and productively.

  1. Read, read, read. There are a range of good introductory texts available. We recommend Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn’s, Archaeology: Theory, Methods and Practice (2016), which is a standard undergraduate textbook. There is a 2020 version coming out in August which means you may be able to pick up a cheaper earlier edition! Kevin Greene’s Archaeology: an Introduction (2010) is also good as is Paul Bahn’s Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (2012). Mike Pitts’ Digging Up Britain: Ten Discoveries, a Million Years of History (2019) is also an excellent guide to some key discoveries and the characters who made them.
  2. Watch. There is a lot of good (and bad) archaeology on TV. The recent series of Digging for Britain is still available on the BBC iPlayer and is great for a straightforward guide to recent discoveries by the people who made them. Beware the archaeology documentary (or YouTube video) that suggests a hitherto unexplored mystery/ancient civilization doubted by experts “until now”! If experts doubt things, they usually have decent reasons for doing so! If you want to hone your critical skills in this area the Bad Archaeology website is an entertaining place to start  http://www.badarchaeology.com/
  3.  Listen. There are some great archaeology related podcasts out there. For example https://www.thebritishhistorypodcast.com/category/archaeology/ or for a more global perspective  https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/
  4. Discover. Why not do some practical archaeology from the (socially distanced) comfort of your own home, via Google Earth. Lots of archaeological sites (known and unknown) only show up from the air and there are literally thousands of archaeological sites that can be seen on Google Earth.

    Why not have a look (perhaps around a known historic landmark) and then see if your discoveries are on the Heritage Gateway (https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/), a great research tool and a handy way to find out about archaeology near you.

  5.  Learn. Another great web resource for archaeologists is the British Archaeological Jobs and Resources http://www.bajr.org/ , which is full of information covering everything from volunteering to dealing with the archaeology if you’re planning to build a motorway! Their guides page is also really useful and the Learn and Train section of the website has a huge range of excellent information about getting started and getting involved in archaeology.
  6. Explore. Explore museums like the British Museum (https://www.britishmuseum.org/) through their online collections. The J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles and the Vatican Museum both have fabulous online collections. Links here:  https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/mar/23/10-of-the-worlds-best-virtual-museum-and-art-gallery-tours
  7.  Wander. Take a stroll round some sites. Avoid the heat and crowds of Pompeii by exploring it with Google Street View! https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7488489,14.4842186,3a,82.2y,192.93h,88.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s4pzXSXkBdlgUU_A5D-XxrQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
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