Leaving the Lab!

My last week at the Nels Nelson North American Archaeology Lab at the American Museum of Natural History was last Friday! It’s sad to be leaving the museum, but I’m glad I got to work with great people and learn a huge amount about this particular lab as well as a great deal about the future and current state of archaeology in North America. I’m really glad I was able to do several different projects each day as well. I would say I had to tweak my expectations slightly as I wasn’t quite sure what the majority of the work I would be doing this summer would be, but that is hardly a bad thing! With several smaller projects, I was able to learn about many different aspects of the lab. This included working in photography, ArcGIS, consolidating, rehousing, cleaning artifacts, data entry. It seems like I was able to do a bit of everything, down to scanning field forms.

Lab tower

I would say I met my goals for the internship this summer, including being able to put the work we are doing in the lab into context with the people of St. Catherine’s Island through the generations of inhabitants and their technologies. I am certainly more comfortable working in the lab in the last week than the first week, and I have also learned a great deal from my fellow interns who are all at different stages in figuring out their futures in archaeology, whether that includes graduate school, contract archaeology, or museum work. And it has been a great experience living in New York this summer.

I’m not sure yet whether I am more clear about my career interests, but I am definitely more clear on the options in Archaeology and Anthropology that are available to me, and I am in the process of narrowing down the fields I am particularly interested in; including Human Osteology, Conservation. I certainly have a better sense of how to proceed to continue a career doing archaeology, and that includes a lot of new technologies in the field including GIS and various forms of 3D scanning, including photogrammetry. At the end of the internship we were able to discuss how to move forward and the different options available. If I had to give advice about internships in this field I would certainly recommend applying to the NAARCH Lab and definitely to ask questions not only about the work but about the field in general and talk to the people you are working with. Throughout this summer, I am most proud of just keeping a journal of everything I did each day, and taking notes during our discussions. Since I did so many different small projects, it makes it a lot easier to remember what I enjoyed the most and what I had more trouble with and need to work on, and that will definitely help me in the future. All in all it was a fantastic experience! I think it has had a great effect on my perceptions of the field and lab environments, and it’s a great jumping off point moving beyond Brandeis!

79th Street entrance to the museum
79th Street entrance to the museum

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