The Five People you meet on Excavation

There is a certain truth that archaeology can be an adventure, but not because of what you are finding.  More than likely, it is because of who you are working with.  For weeks at a time, with perhaps only a few days off at a time, you are physically and mentally toiling and living with people, in somewhat isolated conditions.

In many cases, you create long lasting relationships quickly; you can’t really hide who you are when you cursing God under a pile of rocks.  But, certain aspects of people’s personality, those aspects they try desperately to hide under normal circumstances, come out quickly and dramatically.  There is no hiding your true character on an excavation, because sooner or later, sober or drunk, you will be revealed.

Given that you have to be a little odd to begin with to succeed in archaeology, you are often left with an unusual cast of characters.  In many cases, similar personalities are drawn to the profession for different reasons, and where that can go? Well, it’s not surprising that a large number of murder mysteries feature archaeology sites.

  1. The Theoretical Archaeologist

This young man or woman considers themselves a part of the ‘big picture’ in archaeology, and enjoy reaching conclusions based on heavy research and evidence.  When you first meet them, you are certain that they will be an excellent role model and be incredibly knowledgeable in the field.

This guy knows what’s up, he has books

They are lazy as fuck.

Like this guy, but not funny.

As soon as they have to physically do work, they will come up with every opportunity to get out of it.  Paperwork? They are on it.  Mapping? Boom, out of the hole. Digging with them is like playing ‘pop goes the weasel’, because they are always jumping out. They will state that they are ‘more concerned about the big picture’ and will kiss every ass to get out of the arduous and lowly physical labor.

Ultimately this is good, because they usually suck at digging.  I know, how does someone ‘suck at digging’? Dogs can do it, right?  Well, without going into too much detail, digging requires the ability to identify minute changes in the soil and the patience to go precisely along at a quick pace.   For whatever reason, our fledgling genius just can’t seem to get it.

They will probably end up as the teacher you fall asleep to learning about theory.

  1. The Seducer/uctress

I want to make it very clear that there is nothing wrong with having as much sex with as many people as you can.  It is a problem if you make it blatantly public and rely on alcohol to get the job done.  I don’t want to get too dark, but archaeologists, especially student excavations, are rife with alcohol (at minimum) and things can occasionally get out of hand in this regard.

That got really dark. Think about a puppy for ten seconds.

The creature I want to focus on is the open seducer/uctress.  This person often comes into academic or commercial excavations with the specific desire of getting as much sex as possible.  There is often a few of these people on the larger excavations, so more often than not, they just cycle through each other with the same expectations and nothing goes wrong.

It was a pleasure doing business with you, fellow sex-friend!

The problem is when you find out one of them has a wife or boyfriend at home that they didn’t mention sooner.  And the person they didn’t mention it to was last night’s fling.  Now, open relationships do exist, but there’s an unspoken agreement that in many cases, these flings need to be kept secret at all costs.  When their significant other visits, there is a heavy cloud of guilt that all of those who know carry, and every member of the field crew avoids them until they leave for the week.

Please don’t ask me why his fingers smell funny, please don’t ask me why his fingers smell funny…..

There are also those flings who are unaware that they were flings. The master seduce/uctress will, in a tale as old as time, coerce them with sweet words and promises( In one case, a girl lost her virginity thinking it was the ‘real deal’).  The uniqueness of the situation comes in the awkwardness and blatant fighting that takes place the rest of the time, making it impossible to focus on anything else. And when they take up with the their next target (in the same case, the best friend of the previous, fling. ) everyone seems to take a side, and you forget you’re supposed to be focusing on bronze age roundhouses.

As if anything could distract you from these sexy mamas.

  1. The Partier

There is a joke that all archaeologists are ‘alcoholics who happen to do archaeology’.  There is a certain truth in that, I can personally say that there are places on a certain farmstead in Lincolnshire where  colorful vomit paints beautiful colors across the landscape.  But, we all learn our lesson, having a stopping point, and can make it through the morning.

I can paint with all the colors of my digestive system.

These people do not have a stopping point.  It isn’t a straight case of alcoholism, because more often than not, excavations are the only place where they will drink or ‘partake’ heavily.  It’s really what they expect other people to do when they are drunk.

Bets are taken, people play drinking games, and in the morning, they are found passed out in bizarre positions the next night (perhaps from nakedly humping the kitchen trailer on a dare?).  Everyone takes their turn doing these things, but this creature does it often and without any restraint, every night is a new story, and no amount of hangover, vomiting, or projectile shitting will stop them from doing it over again the next day.

Just hope you aren’t the one helping them pull down their pants on the toilet.

Just stick them on the toilet and back away.

  1. The Couple

There are plenty of couples who go into excavations together, or even meet on an excavation, and have long-lasting, classy, successful relationships.  These are not those people.

Take a walk, you two cute fuckwads, this isn’t about you and your joy.

Perhaps they are looking to spice up their relationship with a volunteer dig (that you are slaving away at for money or school) or maybe they met on the dig (and moved into each other’s room or tent after twelve hours), but you will never doubt for one minute that these people are a couple.

It starts as standard, hand-holding and cutesy talk, but quickly elevates into something more…primal. Now, these people certainly have private spaces to themselves, whether it’s a decent sized tent or a hotel room, but they consider themselves ‘alone’ in the most crowded of bars.  Kissing turns to Frenching turns to groping turns to over-the-pants hand jobs. Often while carrying on a conversation with somebody else.  At least once, there was some ‘zipper-down’ action in Ireland.  There was definitely a discussion overheard about including one of their sisters in on the action.

George R.R. Martin used to be an archaeologist, incidentally. The Red Wedding? Based on an excavation of el-Amarna.

If one of the members leave early, often times the remaining person becomes ‘the partier’ or ‘the seducer/uctress’.  Some people are just meant to be awful. More often than not, these characters are the inspiration for murder mysteries, because the author secretly wanted to kill them.

I can’t focus on the soil with all your shit mucking it up.

  1. The Jabba

These people are the ‘theoretical archaeology’ without the ability to understand paperwork and micro-management. Essentially, they are lazy as fuck without an excuse, because no one told them archaeology includes things like ‘walking’ and ‘carrying stuff’ and ‘moving’.

They LOVE making shady deals with Harrison Ford, ironically. Rumor has it, George Lucas was also a failed archaeologist.

Everything they do is at the slowest possible pace, with as many excuses as possible.  They may ‘break a finger’ or ‘bruise their knee’ early on, to get out of any physical work, confining themselves to cleaning bits of shit off of pottery an bagging them.

Still harder than brushing my teeth. Which I don’t do. So fuck your transfer-print, white-ware.

As you read this, you may realize every job has these people in them. But, not in every job do you have to live with them, eat with them, and shower next to them. Think about that next time you get to sleep in your own bed and eat with people who don’t give out sexual favors for banana bread. At least most people wait until they know if it has chocolate chips.


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