VA to PA: Musings From A First Year Graduate Student

By: Jessie Hoover

 

Excavations at Hanna’s Town

Hello, my name is Jessie Hoover, and I am a first-year graduate student of the Applied Archaeology Program. My fieldwork over the summer of 2017 consisted of two field schools. First, from May to June, I supervised undergraduates, through Longwood University, at the Randy K. Wade site in Randolph, Virginia. I fell in love with this site! It is so rich in cultural material; every feature is bound to have at least five full bags of artifacts! The site is a Late Woodland period site located in the Stanton River Battlefield State Park. I lived out of a tent for four weeks, braving wind, rain, and bugs (sometimes all three at once). I woke up one morning with a bug bite right below my eye, causing major swelling, but I reminded myself that it was all in the name of archaeology! The most interesting find was a pile of corn cobs within a fire pit feature. The way the corn cobbs laid looked like they were just thrown into a fire yesterday, reminding me to remember the people that occupied the area, not just the artifacts.

After moving to Pennsylvania in July, I started IUP’s field school at Hanna’s Town in Westmoreland County, PA. This site reminded me that not every site is going to resemble the Wade site. Sam Edwards and I worked weeks in a 5’ x 5’ unit with barely any artifacts to show for it. We did find a few interesting features, which were small post holes a semicircle. Unfortunately, the lack of artifacts makes it hard to draw conclusions from these features.

Me with Representative Eric Nelson visiting excavations at Hanna’s Town

Once my archaeology season ended it was time to hit the books with the start of my first semester of grad school. I was nervous and excited about going to grad school and moving to another state. Luckily I was not too nervous about the actual school work since I only took a year off from school. I knew time management was key and avoiding procrastination (Netflix) at all costs was important coming into the program, but knowing and implementing time management are drastically different! To support myself thought my first semester, I had to get a part-time job. Course work and job shifts have proved quite the balancing act; I have needed to make many adjustments. During the beginning weeks, I never gave myself a break. Between work and reading assignments, I always felt overwhelmed. I really had to have a heart-to-heart with myself to set aside time to do something fun and take a break before insanity takes its toll. Because of this decision, I have been able to get closer to my cohort, which has done wonders for my morale. Your cohort and professors are there to HELP YOU, this cannot be stressed enough! Since it is close to Thanksgiving, I am highly thankful for my cohort and the others who have come into my life since beginning of my grad school journey. Whether we are working on Barber assignments or just hanging out, the support has made this experience easier.

IUP DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY

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