Campus / News / January 23, 2019

New archaeology minor provides field experience


(Graphics by Michelle Dudley)

Knox administration approved a new Archaeology minor that combines the skills developed in various majors during the January faculty meeting on Jan. 14.

Assistant Professor of History Danielle Fatkin is excited to see the minor be established. As a trained archaeologist herself, Fatkin has been working along with Chair of Environmental Studies Katie Adelsberger on developing the program since their arrivals to Knox in 2008.

Fatkin noted only one new course will be added to the course catalog Ð the “Introduction to Archaeology” course that is required for all who complete the minor. All other requirements for the minor come from courses that are already offered at Knox. This, Fatkin said, was one of the factors that led to the decision to propose the minor.

“I knew that there was enough here going on already that was related to archaeology that it would be relatively easy to create a new program based on things we were already doing,” she said.

Guided by Fatkin or Adelsberger, students will then be required to take a number of elective courses which depend on their preferred track of archaeology. Fatkin noted North American, Mediterranean, or Native American archaeology as a few of the tracks students can take. She elaborated that a student wishing to focus on Native American archaeology will be encouraged to take Director of the Art History Program Greg Gilbert’s Native American Art course as well as Native American history courses offered by Chair of History Cate Denial.

Research Assistant in the Anthropology-Sociology (ANSO) department Soumitra Thorat ‘18 would have pursued an archaeology minor had it been offered when he was a Knox student. After taking a Freshman Preceptorial (FP) course named ‘Archaeology’s Dirty Secrets’ with Fatkin, Thorat grew interested in the field and continued taking courses that dealt with archaeology. He feels that archaeology is distinct because it acts as a combination of different fields like anthropology and history.

“I think it’s the bridge between ANSO and history,” Thorat said. “Because anthropology in itself, when you’re studying culture É to a certain degree has to do with contemporary society and then you always compare it to history.”

Fatkin thinks the minor will attract more students who are interested in field work. She remembers one specific case of a prospective student who chose another school over Knox because of its archaeology program. She feels that the minor emphasizes Knox’s commitment to providing opportunities for students.

“Now that we have the archaeology minor in place it distinguishes us from the other ACM schools,” she said. “It highlights some of the unique research opportunities available to students at Knox.”

Senior Pete Petersen had an interest in archaeology prior to her arrival at Knox and was disappointed upon declaring her major that there was no program for it.

Petersen thinks that the new minor will attract students who, like her, are interested in the field and want some field experience. She studied at a field school in Romania over the summer and felt inexperienced compared to the other students in the program. She said that most of those students had come from larger schools that had offered more field opportunities.

“A lot of people already had a background in field work and lab work, and that was my first experience with it,” Petersen said.

Thorat highlighted that learning archaeology theory does not prepare students for the actual activity of doing archaeology, which he says is physically demanding.

“Learning archaeology in the class as compared to doing it on the field is totally different,” he said. “It’s brutal in the field. You work for 12 hours straight, you’re squatting for eight hours, it’s really really tough on your body.”

Both Petersen and Thorat hope the minor will offer students a chance to learn about archaeology while also gaining experience in the lab.

“I think the classroom learning part is very important because there are things, like guidelines, just academic things that you need to learn,” Petersen said. “But I think the field work is also very important.”


Sam Jacobson, Co-News Editor
Sam Jacobson is a junior majoring in philosophy and potentially minoring in creative writing or psychology. She started volunteer writing during spring term of her freshman year, and worked as a staff writer during her sophomore year.

Tags:  anthropology archaeology curriculum field work history new minor

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