How Can I Study Archaeology in High School?

Learning About Archaeology Before You Go To College

School Classroom, Taiwan
School Classroom, Taiwan. manginwu

Are you someone who wants to study archaeology in high school, but your school doesn't offer any classes in that subject? You think you might want to be an archaeologist, and you want to start as soon as possible down that road. This article is for you.

There are lots of opportunities to study in high school--—take them all: history of all kinds, of course; anthropology and religions of the world; geography would be good; civics and economics; biology, botany, chemistry, physics; languages, definitely languages; computer classes; math and statistics; business classes, even.

All of these courses and a host of others I can't think of will help you when you start your formal education in archaeology; in fact, the information in these courses will probably help you even if you decide not to go into archaeology.

Electives?—take 'em. They are presents given to you for free by the school system, and they're usually taught by teachers who love their subjects. A teacher who loves her/his subject is a great teacher, and that is great news for you.

Practice for the Would-Be Archaeologist

Beyond that, there are several things you can do to practice skills you'll need in archaeology.

First, write. Write all the time. One of the most crucial skills any scientist can have is the ability to express him/herself well. Write in a journal, write letters, write on little scraps of paper you find lying around. Doesn't matter, just write.

Work on your descriptive powers. Practice describing simple everyday objects around you, even: a telephone, a book, a dvd, a tree, a tin can, a coin.

You don't have to describe what it's used for, necessarily, but what is the texture like, what is its overall shape, what color is it. Use a thesaurus, just pack your descriptions with words.

Sharpen your visual skills. Buildings are perfect for this. Find an older building--doesn't have to be terribly old, 75 years or more would be fine.

If it is old enough, the house you live in works perfectly. Look at it closely and try to see if you can tell what might have happened to it. Are there scars from old renovations? Can you tell if a room or a window sill was painted a different color once? Is there a crack in the wall? Is there a bricked-up window? Is there a stain on the ceiling? Is there a staircase that goes nowhere or a doorway that's permanently shut? Try to figure out what happened.

Visit an archaeological dig. Call up the local university in town--the anthropology department in the states and Canada, the archaeology or ancient history departments in other parts of the world. See if they're running an excavation this summer, and see if you can come visit. Many of them would be happy to give you a guided tour.

Talk to people. People are a terrific resource that all archaeologists use, and you need to recognize that and practice it. Ask someone you know who is older than you or from a different place to describe their childhood. Listen and think about how alike or different your lives have been so far, and how that might have affected the way you both think about things.

Join the local archaeology or history club. You don't have to be a professional to join them, and they usually have student rates to join that are pretty cheap. Lots of towns, cities, states, provinces, regions have societies for people who are interested in archaeology. They publish newsletters and magazines and often schedule meetings where you can go hear talks by archaeologists, or even offer training courses for amateurs.

Subscribe to an archaeology magazine, or go read them in the public library. There are several excellent public archaeology outlets where you can learn about how archaeology works, and the latest copies may very well be in your public library right this minute.

    Use the library and the Internet for research. Every year, more and more content-oriented web sites are produced on the Internet; but the library has a vast array of stuff as well, and it doesn't take a computer to use it. Just for the heck of it, research an archaeological site or culture. Maybe you can use it for a paper in school, maybe not, but do it for you.

    And Most Importantly...

    The most important thing I can recommend to any student in any discipline is to learn all the time--in fact, I have never stopped learning and don't plan to. Start learning for yourself, not just for school or for your parents or for some possible job in the future. Take every opportunity that comes along, investigate and sharpen your curiosity about the world and the way it works. That, my friend, is how you become any kind of a scientist: Be excessively curious.