Travel to exotic countries and discover old treasures à la Indiana Jones – thanks to US cult films, the archaeologist’s profession has become a dream job for many.
Reality check: the archaeologist’s profession today
In reality, you may have to reckon with less spectacular car chases and conspiracies than in the cinema. The methods of archeology have also changed since the 1940s in which the films are set. Today, scientists use satellite images or magnetic field measurements to discover buried settlements, or they examine the DNA of bone or clothing remains in state-of-the-art laboratories. The analysis of the finds with the help of huge computerized databases is also becoming increasingly important. With an almost criminalistic instinct, archaeologists have gained completely new knowledge about our ancestors in recent years. Archeology is one of the most exciting fields of research in the real world. But before you go Indy-like with the spade or evaluate aerial photos and carry out laboratory tests, you must first complete a degree.
The study of archeology
According to Thembaprograms, the archeology subject is located at the interface between natural, social and cultural sciences . The students learn how to use material remains to research the lives of people in past historical epochs.
However, since the entire history of mankind is far too extensive as a scientific field, the subject has been divided into subcategories that include different time spans:
- Those interested in the earliest cultures should enroll in Prehistoric Archeology . This deals with the prehistoric and early historical epochs such as the Stone Age or the Iron Age.
- Classical archeology students study the period from approx. 2000 BC. BC to approx. 500 AD and mainly examine the legacies of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
- Those interested in recent history are in the right place with industrial archeology , which deals with remains from the age of industrialization.
Further subjects are, for example:
- Protohistoric archeology
In the bachelor’s degree, students get to know the various archaeological excavation and investigation methods and acquire a lot of background knowledge about the selected epochs . They deal, for example, with architecture , religion or the everyday life of the Romans or the ancient Egyptians. They often attend events in related fields, such as history or ethnology . In archeology itself, they learn how to identify monuments and archaeological finds and place them in the correct temporal and spatial context. Besides, they will be withfamiliarized with traditional and modern excavation methods. The latter includes, for example, the evaluation of aerial and satellite images. But you also learn how to deal with geographical information systems and various databases and how to reconstruct finds on the computer. Teaching excavations and excursions give students the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in practice.
Anyone who wants to pursue a career as a researcher or aspire to management positions should add a master’s degree to the Bachelor’s degree. As in the bachelor’s program, separate courses are offered for the individual epochs and geographical areas . This gives the students the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in a certain area or to expand it to include new fields of research.
Study opportunities in archeology
Many German universities offer the subject of archeology or the individual fields of archeology. In most cases, students can choose another subject as part of a two-subject bachelor’s degree . Combinations with art history , ethnology or computer science , for example, make sense, but it is also possible to choose a subject such as economics .
Requirements for studying archeology
If you want to study archeology, you should not only be interested in ancient cultures , but also have a certain talent for languages . Most universities require knowledge of Latin and / or ancient Greek in order to study archeology. Those who have not yet acquired a Latinum or Graecum at school can usually do so in the first semesters at the university. You should also be able to speak English and French in order to understand the specialist literature.
Professional fields for archaeologists
Most archaeologists go into research after completing their studies . For example, they work at universities, where, in addition to their research, they usually also do a teaching job. Other classic employers are the German Archaeological Institute and museums . Archaeologists carry out excavations and investigations on their behalf, but administrative or public relations work is also possible. Those who work in the field of ground monument preservation, on the other hand, restore and conserve monuments and archaeological finds.
Areas of work that only indirectly have something to do with research are, for example, advisory activities for film and radio, scientific tour guides or activities for specialist publishers and adult education institutions.
Quite a few archaeologists later find work in completely unrelated areas . The scientific skills they have acquired during their studies enable them, for example, to work in the fields of journalism , marketing or public relations .
Advantages of studying archeology abroad
There is still a lot to discover for archaeologists, and not just in Germany. Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to take part in excavations in other countries . For students of classical archeology, a semester abroad in Italy or Greece is ideal. Egyptology students, on the other hand, can best expand their specialist knowledge in Egypt. In addition to professional qualifications, a period of study abroad also offers a unique opportunity to improve foreign language skills and acquire intercultural skills that will be appreciated in later professional life.