I’m Kristin J. Sewell, anthropology graduate student at Michigan State University. Welcome to my blog!
I began my career in archaeology in 2004 when I volunteered for one day with Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI) in Redlands, CA. I was a senior in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Redlands but I had no field experience. I did not know what to expect. I arrived at the SRI offices early one very windy December morning. I helped load buckets, screens and shovels into the trucks and climbed in with the crew. We were headed to Lakeview, a small town in the hills of eastern Riverside County. When I climbed out of the truck, I was introduced to the other members of the crew and was immediately handed a shovel.
Because I was a newbie (and a volunteer), I was not allowed to do anything but manual labor. I shoveled backdirt from trenches into screens so the skilled archaeologists and osteologists could examine the dirt for artifacts or bone. I was told the hillside we were working at was a ritual site for one of the local Native American groups. There were some rock shelters with pictographs and this hill may have been a site for cremation ceremonies.
I shoveled for 8 hours. I foolishly did not bring gloves with me. By the end of the day, I was sweaty, bloody, aching, covered in silt (did I mention it was windy?) and as an added bonus, thanks to the pig farm up-wind from us, I also smelled of manure. I was hooked!
And, I was hired. I have been doing archaeology ever since. Since that December day, I have worked on a wide variety of sites. I have surveyed prospecting sites, mapped collapsed mines, an airport and a dairy farm. I have researched architectural history and land-use. I have worked on three different cemeteries: one coastal California protohistoric (meaning after contact but before settlement) burial ground, one small 19th century California cemetery and one large 19th century Arizona cemetery.
Currently, I am a first-year graduate student studying archaeology with focus on mortuary analysis. My interests are American deathways, the American Southwest, colonialism, borderlands studies, and Mexican-American folkways and traditions.
Thanks for taking the time to read this!
PS. My header image may be found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grave.bourton.arp.750pix.jpg