By: John Rolf
Hey. What’s up? My name is John Rolf and I am a first year graduate student at IUP. As cliche as it sounds, I have wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a child. I used to devour anything I could related to foreign cultures, exotic locales, and action-adventure. Basically I was a huge fan of Indiana Jones and Dirk Pitt. However, with a subscription to Archaeology magazine, I learned early on that archaeology wasn’t all about fighting nazis and combing the desert for lost arks. Still that did not deter me from seeking a career in the field, rather it made me more fascinated by it.
I received my BA from WVU, go Mountaineers, in sociology and anthropology with a focus in anthropology. It was here that I worked closely with Doug Sahady as a teaching assistant for both the WVU 2013 Field School and Archaeology Lab the following semester. It was during the field school that I learned two very important things besides how to conduct an archaeological investigation; digging through a garden of rocks is not fun and roosters make wonderful companions at archaeological sites since they eat all the bugs you dig up. That fall, as monotonous as it was, I assisted in cataloguing over 7,000 artifacts that semester too. If you want to talk about fun, try sitting in a shed looking at rocks for hours on end picking out what are artifacts and what are not, and then developing a database for it all on top of it. During this time, I also assisted Carl Mauer, president of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology – Mon/Yough Chapter 3, at the Schriver Farm site near Garards Fort, PA. We never really found anything outside of small chert flakes at this site, but it did give me a ton of experience conducting site surveys, laying grids, and identifying artifacts.
After my undergrad, I took a year off to think about what I wanted to do, and at the time Colorado seemed like a good idea. So I moved to Colorado Springs. It was a beautiful place and I would have loved to stay out west, but grad school started scratching the back of my brain. I was interested in pursuing a degree that focused on the applied aspects of Archaeology, and I wanted a program that let me implement technology into my investigations. Ever since I attended a seminar in my undergrad about a man who used magnetometers for geophysically surveying a field, I’ve wanted to get training to do that professionally, plus use it in archaeological investigations. After a few Google searches, I stumbled upon IUP. I filled out the application a few weeks later, took my GRE’s (which are the worst by the way), packed up and headed back across the country to Oakland, Maryland, aka my hometown, but not before I visited the beautiful town of McCall, Idaho where my wonderful girlfriend was attending school at the MOSS Program.
If you ask anyone in my graduate class, they will tell you how great grad school is, and it really is, but there is no way to express the amount of work involved in pursuing a masters degree in Archaeology. By the end of the semester I will have written enough words to fill a small novel (literally!). I wouldn’t change a thing though. This program has taught me so much this semester alone and I cannot wait to continue on my educational journey here at IUP.