A few months ago, we shared Knate Bartosch’s experience of his two weeks at the CAA’s High School Field School. This week, we are sharing another account of the 2014 High School Field School. This one is written by high school sophomore Zasha Wojtech. Zasha, who came to Kampsville from New Jersey, has long had a sense of adventure. She spent this summer learning the adventure of archeological excavation at the Buried Gardens of Kampsville. Zasha received both a LOESS and WIA scholarships spending two weeks of her summer as an archeologist. Below is Zasha’s account of what she experienced and learned while attending the CAA’s High School Field School.
“I am a fifteen year old sophomore from a small town in New Jersey. I don’t always fit in with people from my school, you see, because I love dirt, bones, and discovering interesting things in nature. Although I did not find any bones while excavating at “TBGOK” in Kampsville, IL, the Center for American Archeology’s excavation site, I did discover that my curiosity and love for the outdoors now includes a love of archeology.
I have been studying and categorizing bones for the past two years and thought that archeology would be an interesting field to study. I began looking for a club near my home to see if archeology was something I wanted to pursue and possibly study in college. What I found was that there are not many programs for high school students on the East Coast. I was thrilled when I discovered the CAA’s field school for high school students. I wanted to attend the CAA’s field school because they offered something that I couldn’t find anywhere else: They offered a hands-on experience at a real excavation site and taught basic training to beginning archeologists.
The quality of the program exceeded my expectations. During the two week time period I was at the field school, I learned more than I ever expected. The most important skill I learned was patience (not easy for a teenager!). When you excavate a site, you won’t always find something right away, so you have to be patient and very careful. Learning how to use a trowel was also another very important skill to master. It took a while to get the feel for it but with help from the staff of experienced archeologists, it became easy. We also learned how to measure with a plumb line and folding ruler, clean artifacts, and the value of a 90 degree angle. I learned that you actually can be too rough handling the “rocks” because some of them might break apart and others can be really sharp.
When excavating, my group learned that it’s very important not to move any artifact or roots until the area is ready. If you force an object out of the ground, it might disrupt other artifacts or cause damage to the walls/floor of the site. In our spare time, our group had fun together exploring the bluffs and cemeteries in the area as well as being taught how to throw an “Atlatl”, which is a Native American tool used to hunt. It’s a wooded board that anchors a spear or dart onto a notch and is used to throw the spear or dart. The combination gives the thrower more power to launch the spear farther and kill an animal at a greater distance, increasing the opportunity of providing food.
Working in the field with professional archeologists was inspiring and I found out that I really do enjoy archeology. I would recommend the CAA field school for any high school student who has an interest in archeology. When I found out I was awarded the LOESS and WIA scholarships, I was very excited and grateful. I loved being on a real archeological site, learning and experiencing much of what it is like out in the field. CAA’s field school was a great way for me to understand what it takes to be an archeologist and I am thankful that the LOESS and WIA scholarships were there to help make my trip to Kampsville a reality. Archeology is definitely something that I would like to pursue. Years from now, I hope to look back on my time at CAA’s field school knowing that it was the beginning of a lifelong passion and entry to what I hope turns into a career for my future. Thank you for giving me the privilege of attending the CAA’s field school. I will recommend the CAA programs to anyone who wants to discover how awesome archeology is and encourage them to ‘get digging’.”
All of us at the CAA would like to thank the LOESS and WIA scholarships for supporting Zasha’s participation in the CAA’s High School Field School. We would also like to thank all our donors who support the CAA and make learning experiences and archeology accessible to young, future scholars such as Zasha. And remember, registration is now open for our 2015 High School Field School program.