WHY I SUCK AT ARCHAEOLOGY


I have spent a good part of my professional career as a field archaeologist. I even became somewhat famous world –wide for a technique I devised to identify biochemical traces on stone tools – literally (and I really mean literally) getting blood of or rocks.

After graduating from UBC, I travelled all over the province digging holes all over the place, writing reports and drinking copious amounts of beer just like a real archaeologist.

I found village sites, identified special activities such as berry steaming that happened at sites, and I even found a totem pole that washed up on the beach at Port Hardy.

I told stories, gave lectures, and spoke to groups of armature archaeologists.

I even wrote research designs and directed projects – some in the field and some in the lab.

With all this history, people often ask me why I’m not still an archaeologist.

The answer is simple. I suck at archaeology.

Before I came onto the scene, many archaeologists developed an attachment to stone tools that I never could fathom. They liked them. They also licked them. On thousands of occasions I witnessed several scientists wrapping their tongues around the little treasures to clean off the edges so they could see signs of wear. At least that’s what they said they were doing. Frankly, I thought that there was a semi sexual fascination with the tools as they licked them like lollipops.

I never had the urge, so I sucked at archaeology.

Then I came along with the idea that they may have been contaminating valuable data. I once said that we had to view artifacts in the ground as dirty dishes. I spoiled it for everyone. “You don’t lick your plates and put them back into the cupboard, do you?” I asked once. “You wash them, don’t you? You don’t want to contaminate your household with tongue germs.”

With the looks I got, I deduced they probably did contaminate their households, so everyone hated me. One said, ”Why don’t you do yourself and everyone else a favour and leave the residues alone?”

After hearing this, I suggested everyone should prevent contaminating their artifacts by wearing medical examination gloves.

I wasn’t the only one. Another archaeologist gave a paper saying that digging with steel trowels left marks on the artifacts that interfered with microscopic analysis if wear patterns that would determine how artifacts may have been used.

Another archaeologist said, “What are you two doing to our profession? Mike has us wearing gloves so we feel like we stepped out of a Mickey Mouse cartoon, while Marty wants us to dig with plastic beach shovels and plastic buckets so we feel like kids in the sand box.

Clearly, Marty and I sucked at archaeology.

Marty went on to get his PhD, while I escaped to another profession altogether.

I read an article recently that established an early date for the domestication of the horse at 3500 – 3000 years BC in Kazakhstan. Residue analysis was performed and they found mares’ milk inside some pots. I may have started something. I don’t know much about horses, but my own common sense tells me that I wouldn’t try to milk a wild horse.

Now I can take a philosophical stance. Sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something.

Mike Broderick , a one time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment.

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there “aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look like.

He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at 604-464-4105 If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.

Labour day is fast approaching. Get your resume ready. More people make changes around Labour Day than New Year’s Day

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One Response to “WHY I SUCK AT ARCHAEOLOGY”

  1. energywriter Says:

    Great story. Funny yet full of wisdom. You’re like the guy who told doctors to wash their hands between patients. That’s definitely something to be proud of.

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