7 Things Archaeologists Probably Did Over the Summer

Summer is winding down and for those of us in Germany, it’s gone (No worries, Kürbis season has started!). Some of us are heading back to school and we’re faced with some variant of “How was your summer?” or “What did you do over the summer?”  For many of us that’s a loaded question because we ended up doing a lot of things over the summer.  If you’re an archaeologist, you probably did at least one of the following: 

1.  Went to the Field

Summer is the time when many projects conduct fieldwork. This could be a survey, an excavation, ethnoarchaeological research, etc. For many of us, it’s what we’ve been looking forward to all year.

Bat -- Oman
Excavation in the Middle East

2.  Conducted Lab Work

Research also can happen in a laboratory setting. Often lab spaces can be at your home institution; however, it might be necessary to do lab work at another institution or even in the field. That’s where the fun comes in!

Photo Credit: H. Suarez
Analyzing wood anatomy at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, MA USA.

Photo Credit: H.Suárez

3. Took a Course

This is more likely to happen if you’re a student. Students take summer courses for a variety of reasons including 1) a course is only offered during the summer, 2) you need to catch up on credits, 3) you rather take a course in a shorter, intensive manner (e.g. language courses), and the list goes on. There are also short courses that can run for 1-2 weeks that usually fit in a lot of information in a short amount of time.

Boston -- USA
Classroom for microMORPH’s summer class.

4. Went to a Conference

While conferencing happens year-round, many conferences specifically have summer meetings to encourage turnout. Though this can conflict with fieldwork, many of us make it to a conference or two over the summer.

Freiburg -- Germany
Conference Name Tag

5. Wrote

Whether it’s grants, publications, or bureaucratic forms, we’re writing! Most of us have super ambitious writing plans that usually get scaled down as the summer goes on, but we usually have the space and time to make progress on items that would take a little longer during the academic year.

Screenshot 2015-09-09 02.58.59
Writing preparation

6. Made Money

We have to eat! We often turn to paid positions to support ourselves over the summer and/or give us a cushion for the rest of the year. Jobs sometimes can be complementary to what we’re doing (e.g. paid field work positions, teaching positions, research assistantships, etc.) and sometimes they’re not.

Omani Rials

7. Took a Breather

We all need a break. Sometimes it’s a 24-hour Netflix binge or a weekend (better yet a week!) away. It’s always needed and always too short.

Photo Credit: H. Suarez
Relaxing at the Arnold Arboretum

Photo Credit: H.Suárez

Of course, we do more things and this list covers most of the basics. The next series of blog posts will cover what things on this list I did over the summer, what habits they covered, and hopefully some useful information. Stay tuned!

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.



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