Field notes

Q&A with Riley

Riley is one of our new Assistant Archaeologists and has wisely chosen to spend his spring and summer with us. Many students aren’t aware that they can gain meaningful employment (aka a real job!) before they graduate and we’re here to let you know what’s up. Read on about Riley and find out why he loves archaeology and what he would do if he was alone in the woods!

What made you first pursue archaeology as a career path?

I’m still very early in my archaeology career; I’ve only finished my second year of my Bachelor’s at the University of Alberta. That being said, my archaeology career began before I went to university at all when I got to work on the Old Bezanson Archaeology Project with Dr. Meaghan Peauramaki-Brown and Dr. Shawn Morton. After a few weeks of excavations in the summer, I was certainly hooked! Since then, I have gotten to do some work in Belize and another season in Bezanson. I think at this point it is easy to say that I am thoroughly hooked!

If you could travel to a country specifically to do archaeology, where would it be?

Since a very young age I have always wanted to do archaeology in the Middle East; ancient civilizations and ancient languages are a great interest for me. Syria or Jordan would be particularly wonderful to explore and look back into the past. Hopefully next summer I will be able to go on a field school in the Middle East!

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I think getting to uncover pieces of history that are all but lost to time is the most rewarding part of archaeology generally. I think specifically seeing the similarities between past peoples and modern peoples is one of the most important parts of our work. Archaeology is about connections to the past and telling stories that are lost to time.

Where is your favourite place that you’ve worked?

Last summer, I was able to work in Belize as a part of the Stann Creek Regional Archaeology Project. It was 60 days of excavating in the humid summer heat. I met some wonderful people while I was down there and ate some really delicious food. I was able to see some really cool Mayan sites while I was down there as well; there was something really powerful about walking around the monumental core of Xunantunich with its massive administrative buildings and ceremonial compounds.

How would you spend your evening if you were in a cabin with no cell service and little internet?

I would probably build up a nice fire in the wood stove and nestle up in a big comfy chair with a good book. If there were other people around I would probably grab a deck of cards and play some games, maybe some cribbage or gin. As the day faded and the sky grew dark, I might sit out on the porch and gaze at the stars as they fill up the night sky.

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