Field School Experience – Jeff
Editor’s note: We’ll be sharing the Field School Experiences over the next weeks from students in the program. This week, meet Jeff Hardy.
Hi, my name is Jeff and this is me at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology here in London,Ontario, when I got to participate as a student in the recent “Un-field-school” carried out by Dr. Ferris at the Lawson site. As the son of a curio-collector, I was instilled with a strong interest in archaeology from an early age. However, it was not until my first field school experience at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology that I began to truly appreciate the complex processes, methods, and perspectives involved in defining and doing this thing known as archaeology.
I was able to take part in a special topics intersession course offered by the Department of Anthropology at Western University. This field school was
designed not to dig up new areas of the site, but to help rehabilitate the Lawson site by ‘cleaning up’ past archaeology, mapping features, both ancient and the ones made by earlier archaeological fieldwork, and look at ways to sustain and preserve the site as a living museum, with an emphasis on long-term care. I chose to take this class after an eight-year hiatus from Western, as one of the final two credits I needed to complete the anthropology requirements on the double minor I am working towards.
My experience on this field school has been truly amazing, and has inspired me to pursue a major in anthropology and archaeology following the completion of my double minor this summer. The opportunity to use geophysical equipment such as the ground penetrating radar, resistivity meters, and total station for mapping purposes and to get an insight into the below ground features of the Lawson site was an incredible learning opportunity. The fact that the mapping we assisted on, along with the partial excavation we conducted of an area that was part of a past dig, was all part of the sustainability initiative for the Lawson site to help remediate and care for it, was just incredible. Remediating past archaeological actions and working to balance current uses of the site area while minimizing the loss of integrity for the site was an important goal of the field school. But so too was the idea we were helping to create a new narrative for the Lawson site, one that is inclusive of all the people and communities who value and differently understand what the Lawson site means in terms of heritage, and so offer a new perspective on what it means to be doing archaeology today. I also liked how the decision making process over what we were going to do next was fluid and always changing by the information we were finding, but remained shaped by the goals of the field school. It was wonderful to be a part of that discussion and decision making.
I encourage anyone with an interest in archaeology to visit the Lawson site. There are volunteer opportunities throughout the year, and a lot of learning to be had by touring the gallery, and by talking to the wonderful staff at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology.