Universiteit Leiden

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Throwback to the Archaeological Field School of 2022: ‘Excavating is very rewarding’

Back in June, the annual Leiden Archaeology Field School took place in Oss. For a month, every week, a group of 25 first year students gets to learn the ins and outs of a professional excavation. This is what they have been prepared for in the past year. ‘It is very exciting to put all the theory into practice.’

Practical experience

It is a hot day in the middle of June, and the air above the long trench is shimmering. Student Rosa looks flustered, while she is handling the leveling tripod. ‘It is very interesting to see how an excavation works. There is a large difference to reading the books and thinking about it. This is mostly about the practical experience.’ She laughs. ‘It is really fun, but today it is mostly really warm.’

Fellow student Suze concurs. ‘My experience is kind of the same. The excavation is all about recording, taking pictures and making drawings.’ She adjusts the level so she can read the numbers on the measuring rod some 30 meters away. ‘I do like the social questions more than the actual digging, so I will be going for the Heritage and Society specialisations.’

Suze and Rosa working with the level

Interesting and intense

Sitting on the edge of a cross section, Sander is making a drawing of a profile. ‘The week has been very interesting, and very intense. While my back is killing me, I think it is a great experience nonetheless.’ When asked if he found anything, his eyes sparkle. ‘I found a little piece of ceramics of somewhere between the 16th and 20th century. It is rather recent, but of course this is an exercise excavation, a reflection of the archaeological experience.’

Sander while drawing a cross section's profile

Quick learners

Standing on the side of the long trench, lecturers Mark Driessen and Richard Jansen reflect on the past weeks. ‘Looking back, I can say that we have a group of students that are quick learners, enthusiastic, precise and disciplined in the use of field techniques.’ Mark beams proudly.

‘I completely agree with that,’ Richard nods. ‘They are very eager to learn. Finally, after a year of classes, this is, at least in my opinion, what archaeology is about.’

Timelapse video of the Field School students excavating a round structure

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Even though the day is hot, the enthusiasm of the students is palpable. Student Astrid, while drawing a profile section, summarises the main sentiment. ‘It is exciting to put all the theory we learned in the past year into practice.’

Among the important things the students learn is to drink enough water during fieldwork
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