MA Student Emily Hull Undertakes an Internship with W&MCAR
MA student Emily Hull at the Department of Anthropology at William & Mary is now in the second year of her studies, where she's specializing in experimental and Indigenous archaeology. As well as the academic study that she's been undertaking in the classroom, Emily has also had the opportunity to perform on-the-ground archaeological fieldwork throughout her MA as an intern for the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research (W&MCAR). This has been a means of supporting her Master's studies and research while also providing her with new experiences and novel skills in archaeology. Here, she discusses both the research component of her MA and the fieldwork she's been undertaking as an intern at W&MCAR, and how these combined experiences have intertwined to benefit her as an archaeologist.
Can you describe your educational background: where did you study for your bachelor’s degree, and what aspects of your studies inspired you to continue in Archaeology?
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology and Psychology from Hamilton College (Clinton, NY) in 2018. Although I did not intend to take anthropology classes in my freshman year, I was placed in an Intro to Archaeology class as part of a first-year program. I happened to do well in the class, and I got along incredibly well with my professor, who was also my advisor. He encouraged me to take more anthropology classes and I really wanted to continue working with him, so I did. I’ve always had an underlying interest in how people work and why people do what they do, and I found that my anthropology classes and professors really challenged me to think beyond my own experiences. What really sold me on continuing to study archaeology, however, was going to field school in British Columbia, Canada in 2017 as part of the Slocan Narrows Archaeology Project. The field school contributed to on-going investigations that benefited the sovereignty efforts of the Sinixt, an First Nations group fighting to regain recognition by the Canadian government. Seeing the project have a significant impact on Sinixt community members is what really made me love archaeology.
What are your main areas of interest and specialization as an MA student at William & Mary?
My master’s thesis focuses on experimental archaeology and use-wear analysis of quartzite tools from the Slocan Narrows site in British Columbia. I’m currently conducting use-wear experiments on deer hide and cedar planks with quartzite tools to compare their wear to an archaeological assemblage that is currently housed at Hamilton College. This was also my senior thesis project in undergrad. I’m interested in Indigenous Sovereignty, so I’m hoping my project contributes to the larger body of research being done to help the Sinixt regain their sovereignty as an autonomous First Nations group. I hope to study more about gender and identity (as loaded a word as that is) in the future!
Did you have CRM experience prior to working on your internship at W&MCAR? If so, could you elaborate on where this was and your role(s) in this work?
Prior to enrolling at William and Mary, I worked on and off for a small CRM firm out of Verona, Pennsylvania called Christine Davis Consultants, and briefly for Environmental Design & Research out of Syracuse, NY – both are women-owned businesses! At the time, Christine Davis Consultants were trying to expand into conducting projects in southern upstate New York. Because I was from upstate New York, I was their go-to field tech for upstate New York projects, and was asked to assist on Pennsylvania projects when they needed a bigger crew. When I wasn’t in the field, I was asked to complete certain reports, mostly for sites where no archaeological material was recovered. In addition, I was asked to do some research on soil profiles, nearby archaeology sites, and history surrounding the area that certain projects for other reports.
How has your work with W&MCAR helped you benefit and develop as an archaeologist beyond what you’ve been learning in the classroom?
Working at W&MCAR has further shown me how different archaeology in academia and CRM can be. Mostly, though, I feel like I’m becoming more aware of the applications of archaeology, how theory is applied to cultural resource management, and the complexity of working with and across various organizations. I’ve certainly learned more about the coordination and background work that goes into planning, conducting, and reporting a CRM project. I find I learn best through hands-on experience, and working at W&MCAR has given me that. I’ve been grateful to be part of it!
What would be your advice for prospective and current Archaeology MA students looking to gain more field and CRM experience to prepare them for the job market?
I think what’s helped me most is being flexible willing to try experiences in all aspects of CRM. At W&MCAR and in the past, I’ve been willing to take on whatever work people need help with – all of which I can say has helped me learn more about how CRM works and connected me to people willing to help me in return. A now-retired Hamilton professor once told me that the social connections I made in college were more indicative to my success in my career and life than my major. I took his advice to heart in choosing archaeology as my major in undergrad and continuing my studies in graduate school – choosing to stay connected with people willing to mentor me and help me grow as a person and an archaeologist. I believe that focusing on social connections through job experiences is just as crucial to future success.