There and Fighting Through Mordor to get Back Again…A Graduate Student’s Experience

By: Sarah Henley

Coming into the program I had a Bachelors degree in Sociology and little experience or knowledge about archaeology besides from what I learned on my own through volunteer work at a Civil War camp in Kentucky, a field school in Ireland, and books. My first semester I felt out of place because it appeared like everyone else knew so much more and had more experience than I did. However, I was not alone in the grueling stress of first year graduate work. After working my butt off through classes, the PHAST program, and other various experiences I no longer feel out of place. Plus, this past October I finally got to meet my mentor, Stefanie Smith, in person when I went to Athens, Georgia for the SEAC Conference. I found out that she and I were so similar in our experience it was scary but awesome. Overall graduate school has been one crazy, what feels like never ending, roller coaster ride of stress, sweat, blood and tears, and the occasionally random fun times.

My thesis, in a nutshell, involves investigating the manufacture and trade of Cypriot Red Slip ware (CRS) in Cyprus using portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF). I will be testing and comparing the elemental composition of CRS sherds, which date to the Roman and Late Roman Periods, and clay bed samples in Cyprus to determine possible manufacturing origins of the CRS. Then I will connect my results and data to Cypriot trade. Currently I am at a temporary stand still due to things that have occurred in my personal life, three classes and an increasing school work load, and working as a lab assistant 10 hours a week. It is frustrating because I really want to start writing my thesis, and I also have to prepare for my trip this upcoming May, to Cyprus, but what can you do? Life happens.

IUP Department of Anthropology

Archaeology isn’t always about getting dirty

By: Genevieve Everett

The other day I was looking for inspiration for this weeks blog post, so I went to one of my favorite websites, the Munsell Color Blog (, which is dedicated to all the ways in which the Munsell Color Chart/Book is applied in the world of  art and science. There are many posts about archaeology, which led me to one particular post, “‘Soiled’–Punk Rock, Archaeology, and the Munsell Color Book–A Love Song” by archaeologist Andrew Reinhard. Reinhard’s post is all about taking the things that he loves, punk music and archaeology, and combining the two. In 2012, he and a colleague organized an archaeology ‘unconference’ at a bar in North Dakota, and had punk bands play sets in between talks. The best part is that Reinhard wrote an entire album dedicated to archaeology with at least one song, “Soiled” that is all about Munselling (sadly the songs were removed). Reinhard and his colleagues even wrote a book called, “Punk Archaeology”, which addresses how punk influences how they approach archaeological research.

I fell down the rabbit hole even further, down into Reinhard’s other project, Archeogaming (, “Archaeogaming is a blog dedicated to the discussion of the archaeology both of and in video games (console, computer, mobile, etc.). If a game uses archaeology in some way (such as the Archaeology skill in World of Warcraft), we’ll discuss it here. If the design and function of pottery, textiles, and architecture vary between iterations of a game (e.g., Elder Scrolls), we’ll discuss it here. If a game contains an archaeologist character class or NPC (non-player character), we’ll discuss it here. We’ll review games containing (or about) archaeology, too. The blog will also explore new methods for conducting real archaeology in gaming environments, as well as the theory underpinning studying material culture of the immaterial.” Okay, this is some third tier nerdy stuff, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I think this concept is really interesting, and reflects changing dynamics in archaeology, which lead me to another ‘outside of the box’ archaeological study by Anna Marie Prentiss…

Anna Marie Prentiss is well known for her work in British Columbia at the Keatley Creek and Bridge River sites examining wealth-based inequality in housepits. The article that I found had little to do with the prehistory of British Columbia, instead, the article is called, “Get Rad! The Evolution of Skateboard Decks”( Prentiss et al. studied how skateboard decks have changed over time, and stated, “Tracking the evolution of the skateboard deck demonstrates that evolution is more than a simple model of innovation and selection”. Skateboards are a form of material culture, so why not study them?

Ultimately what I have taken away from this journey is that the study of archaeology is not a ‘one size fits all’ field of study. Just because you’re a well known archaeologist that concentrates on the evolution of hunter-gatherer societies in British Columbia does not mean you are bound to that specific aspect of archaeological research forever. It’s not always about digging in the dirt or applying traditional theoretical perspectives to interpret the past. Whether or not you buy Reinhard’s punk archaeologist (anti) manifesto, it is still one of many ways in which we as archaeologists approach material culture in the twenty-first century.

IUP Department of Anthropology

Success after IUP

By: Kristin Swanton

My passion for archaeology was a direct result of my older brother, Michael, and great uncle, Charles Wray, who both worked as archaeologists in New York. In 2007, I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Anthropology and Religion from Syracuse University. After completing two fieldschools and two archaeology internships, I developed my interest in historical archaeology and working with stakeholder communities.

After college, I knew I wanted to attend graduate school, but my faculty at Syracuse recommended that I get more experience in cultural resource management. I took off two years between undergraduate and graduate school, but it was worth it. I was lucky to be part of the first graduate class in the Masters for Applied Archaeology program at IUP. As a graduate student, I was able to tailor my Master’s thesis to focus on a contact-period battlefield in eastern Connecticut that involved multiple interested parties.

A volunteer dig at the Governor Wolf mansion in PA

The coursework and mentoring from the IUP faculty directly prepared me for my various jobs after graduate school. I have had the opportunity to work for an international engineering firm, as well as the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJHPO) and the U.S. Forest Service. Currently, I work as a Historic Preservation Assistant for the NJHPO, where I assist staff members in their review of projects requiring Section 106 compliance and New Jersey State permits. With my Master’s degree from IUP, I gained the skill sets necessary in CRM and satisfied the Secretary of Interior qualifications as a professional archaeologist.

IUP Department of Anthropology

How I Survived Grad School So You Can Too

By: Danielle Kiesow

A wise man once told me, “You need to remember what makes you a good procrastinator: confidence!” That wise man is my father, and while he might deny he ever endorsed my habit, it’s that confidence (whether procrastinating or actually getting work done) that has carried me through the Applied Archaeology program here at IUP. I’m now a second year graduate student, just one semester and one completed thesis shy of graduating. I am so happy that I chose IUP to continue my archaeological education: I have learned so much about North American archaeology, laws and ethics in cultural resource management, and about myself.

By far the hardest part of grad school is learning time management. Only three classes (nine credits) are required per semester for this program, and coming out of regular 15-18 credit semesters in undergrad, I didn’t think much of it until syllabi day at the beginning of my first semester. The first year of grad school in this program is more difficult than the second year because you’re adjusting to a new location (in my case, transplanting from Wisconsin and going through cheese curd withdrawal), in some cases getting back into school after a hiatus, getting to know your cohort and your professors, and panicking because you can just see your thesis looming on the horizon.

But don’t worry! By the second year of this program you’ve gotten into the swing of things and you’ve become closer to your cohort (and you’ve realized there’s such a thing as Wine Festivals on campus). Your thesis topic is tackled head-on in the first Cultural Resource Management course, so once you have an idea and a support system in your thesis committee you just have to keep on plowing through, one chunk at a time.

After courses this spring, I will be heading back to the Midwest to northern Minnesota to work with Grand Portage National Monument on the Grand Portage Reservation as an archaeological technician for about a year and then after that, we’ll see what happens! Interning for the National Park Service over the past two summers and learning how and why archaeology is done in North America through this program has made it possible for me to find a job right after classes. There are also some things I learned outside of classes that I thought would be useful for those considering archaeology or for those in the program here:

  1. The archaeological community is smaller than you think and a lot of job opportunities boil down to who you know, not what you know. If you say anything negative about another archaeologist or if you don’t have a good attitude or good work ethic out in the field, that will travel and future employers will know.
  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions in class. Make all those student loans worth it!
  1. Grad school can be overwhelming and it’s easy to get caught up and work on projects or your thesis 24/7. At the very least, take 2-3 hours out of your week and get together with your cohort for trivia at Twisted Jimmy’s from 7-9pm on Friday. Take a deep breath, grab a drink, share a few laughs, and don’t think about any work that needs to get done.
  1. Make sure you are passionate about your thesis topic. If you are lukewarm about it from the start, you will hate it all the more when you’re trying to motivate yourself to write it four months down the line.
  1. Whatever Dr. Ford says, looking at pictures of puppies and watching cute puppy videos are not a waste of time.
  1. You’ll be amazed at the opportunities you can get if you just ask. I got an internship at Isle Royale National Park in 2015 just by introducing myself to the park archaeologist over some ice cream and asking if there were any projects that he wanted to farm out to students for theses. This in turn snowballed into internships and theses for both Isle Royale and Grand Portage, a job this summer at Grand Portage, meeting and networking with other archaeologists, and trainings and certifications. There is always someone out there who needs another field tech or who has a dream project just waiting to be realized.
  1. If you’re feeling discouraged and stressed, remember that everyone else in your cohort is probably feeling the same way. You are not alone. Reach out to others!
  1. In these two years, your cohort and the cohorts above and below you will become your colleagues and your closest friends. Another reason to go to all the archaeology conferences once you graduate!
  1. You can answer every question in class with the phrase “It depends.” But don’t do that.
  1. You will doubt yourself from time to time, but this program sets you up to succeed. You need to remember what makes you a good archaeologist: confidence!IUP Department of Anthropology

My final semester…..

By: Katherine Peresolak

The Carroll Farm

It’s amazing how quickly the past two years have gone, but I was warned! It’s exciting to be in my final semester and focusing on thesis work and writing. My research centers on a historic home (and farm) located in Fayette County that stands on what is now DCNR land. The primary goal was to determine when the older, hand-hewn timber part of the house was built. This and three other research questions were investigated using several methodologies: documentary research, archaeological excavation, architectural survey, dendrochronology (tree-ring dating), and soil chemistry analysis. Answers to my research questions will provide the DCNR managers support in arguing for the home’s and site’s significance and need for funding. While the use of dendrochronology to date house timbers and soil chemistry analysis to understand the farm fields and land use/quality has been so interesting, probably the most exciting part of this project for me has been the public archaeology aspect.


Joanna Furnace, 2006, Wheelwright Shop

My own experience in archaeology began when I was 16 and still in high school. Two annual festivals are held at Joanna Furnace in Berks County, to which my mom regularly took my sister and I. I honestly did not want to walk away from the open excavation when I saw it, and my mom saw an opportunity to ask if they (SPA Chapter 21) took volunteers. Ever since then, public archaeology has been dear to me, and I can’t wait to share the results of my thesis research with DCNR and other publicly-accessible outlets so that the history of a 19th-century log house in rural SW Pennsylvania can be told. Another valuable part of my thesis has been the accessibility to three individuals with a family connection to the house. Their involvement only improved what I have been able to conclude in my study.

Staffordshire pottery sherd

I am planning to defend my thesis soon and fully graduate by May, which is exciting, and I look forward to the job opportunities that will be available afterward. Traveling to new places and seeing cotton fields, Cyprus swamps, and other things like Armadillo shells (it’s almost like seeing a live one, right?) and uncovering Staffordshire pottery (trust me, it’s cool) has always been one of my favorite parts of fieldwork, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

A graduate student’s musings on the NEH and NEA

By: Genevieve Everett

The arts and humanities have always meant a great deal to me as I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment in which expressing oneself was done through painting or drawing in or outside the lines. As a child, my mother and grandmother both took me to as many museums in Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania as they could. All of these experiences opened my eyes to the world around me. However, it wasn’t until fourth grade that I found a way to express myself. Fourth grade was the year when students were given the opportunity to pick out the instrument of their choice and get weekly music lessons from the school music teacher. No, I did not go to a fancy private school, on the contrary, I went to PUBLIC school where my education was FREE. I still remember the day my mother took me to the school cafeteria to pick out the instrument that I would end up playing for nine straight years, the clarinet. This is going to sound real cliché, but music made me who I am today. I struggled with attention deficit disorder as a kid, but still managed to do well in school, because I found something that I excelled in and enjoyed. I credit my interest in the arts and humanities to those music teachers that taught us to tap our feet in time to the music, to the women in my life that showed me that the past is part of the present, and the history, anthropology/archaeology teachers that broadened my understanding of the world.

You may be asking yourself, “why did she just go off on that tangent about music and art and history?” Well, without the arts and humanities, I would not be where I am today: a graduate student studying applied archaeology. The things I listed above, the experiences, especially learning to play an instrument cannot be directly attributed to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) or the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), but the federal recognition of importance of the arts and humanities in the 1960’s created programs that would affect millions of Americans and American institutions for years to come.

Okay, a little background information on the NEH and NEA…

The NEH and NEA were established as federal agencies by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 29, 1965 in response to a 1964 finding that, “the emphasis placed on science endangered the study of the humanities from elementary schools through postgraduate programs”. The 1960’s were a time of civil unrest, and the American people began to question the status quo. The civil rights movement was in full force, the first real talks around human impacts on the environment were being seriously discussed, and people recognized that the arts and humanities were not getting their fair share. Since the implementation of the NEH and NEA, it has not all been smooth sailing. The agencies have experienced drastic cuts throughout their 50 + year tenure. Now in 2017 the NEH and NEA are facing similar cuts under the new administration. So, we tell ourselves, “oh, no big deal, they’ll bounce back just like they have in the past.” WRONG. The new administration wants to cut federal spending by $10 trillion dollars, and the NEH and NEA are low on the totem pole when it comes to funding priorities under a conservative agenda.

What does this have to do with archaeology? While archaeology is technically considered a science (whether social or a ‘true’ science, it is a highly debatable within archaeology), it still falls in the ranks of the humanities, such as history and social studies. The NEH provides grants to archaeological or closely related archaeological projects. For example, Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections is one of the NEH grants created to help, “cultural institutions meet the complex challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting sustainable conservation measures”. It is projects like this that protect cultural resources from destruction and deterioration. Although having little do to with archaeology, a project that uses art for the betterment of the American people is the NEA Military Healing Arts Partnership which, “supports creative art therapy programs to help our nation’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families in their recovery, reintegration or transition to civilian life”. Without the NEH and NEA, projects such as these will fall by the wayside, and the arts and humanities, including archaeology will suffer.

If you are reading this, and are a concerned citizen just as I am, you can sign this petition: Do not defund the NEA or NEH AND speak to your state and local representatives.


Material referenced:


NEA and NEH logo image


IUP at SHPO, Part 2

By David Breitkreutz

During the past four months I have been working for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commissions (PHMC), our State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), with fellow IUP graduate student Hannah Harvey. We are working on the Report Backlog Processing Project. On a typical day our job duties include: mapping archaeological survey reports into the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS) system, data entry of archaeological survey reports, updating Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey Forms (PASS) into the CRGIS system, and filing of all processed archaeological survey reports into the SHPO Report Archive. At times the job has become predictable and mundane, however it has been educational to read all of the reports. We’ve also been invited to attend Determination of Eligibility (DOE) meetings and we attended the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board (PHPB) meeting in October. Attending these meetings has been far from the humdrum of processing reports because it has given us an insider’s perspective on procedures for evaluating eligibility in the commonwealth.*

Prior to the DOE meeting each Phase I or Phase II report has been evaluated by the regional Archaeological Reviewer. At this point, the assigned reviewer has made their determination and either agrees or disagrees with the consultant’s (CRM firm) findings and recommendations. The DOE meeting is used to defend the reviewer’s evaluation of the project to the others in attendance. The meeting is attended by all three Archaeological Reviewers (Kira Heinrich; Western region, Steve McDougal; Central region; and Mark Shaffer; Eastern region) and the division chief of Archaeology and Protection (Doug McClearan). Keith Heinrich (the Western Region National Register Reviewer) and Noël Strattan (CRGIS Coordinator) often attend these meetings too. Almost all of the DOE meetings we have attended have been after the Phase II has been completed.

The staff go over site mapping, sampling strategies, testing strategies, soil integrity, feature context, and they discuss whether or not the site adds data that contributes to our understanding of the past, thus eligible for inclusion in the NRHP. Their recommendations are congruent with the Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations in Pennsylvania and are based on the site’s significance and integrity, or lack thereof. At least three of the reviewers must agree to the determination and sign-off on the DOE certificate. Usually this is a straightforward process and there is really no back and forth arguing. After all, they have been doing this for years and they make sure the consultants are following the guidelines. Fortunately our state has a solid and strict reputation, most contractors abide to the guidelines, and most times consultants ask PHMC reviewers for feedback. Unfortunately at times the reviewers have made the evaluation that the contractors work scope hindered their ability to appropriately evaluate the property. In these cases the consultants are sent back out to complete more work because they didn’t reach the minimum required for evaluation under the Guidelines. I have to say that these type of DOE meetings were the most educational for me because you can learn a lot by never repeating mistakes of others.

Photo 1: DOE Meeting at the SHPO. From left to right Hannah Harvey, Doug McLearen, Steve McDougal, Mark Shaffer, Kira Heinrich, and Keith Heinrich.

On October 4th we attended the PHPB meeting in the Rachael Carson Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This was a different undertaking from the DOE meetings because these were all above-ground resources, therefore we heard arguments for eligibility on the basis of all four criteria of eligibility. There was a total of eight properties that were nominated during this meeting. The process on average takes about a year to complete, sometimes a little longer for the non-professional. A National Register Form is completed and submitted to one of three National Register (NR) Reviewers. Like Archaeological Reviewers the NR Reviewers are divided by region (Keith Heinrich: Western Region, Dave Maher: Central Region, and April Frantz: Eastern Region). Each NR Reviewer receives dozens of NR forms yearly and works closely with the individuals submitting the form. The exact numbers are not yet ready for the year as staff is still working on the annual reports, but it is estimated that three-quarters of NR nominations are determined ineligible by the reviewer before going to the board. Only some of the eligible properties have an actual nomination submitted and move forward through the process. Therefore, the board only receives the strongest nominations.

The primary responsibilities of the 15 member board is to review NR nominations and nomination appeals before they are sent to the Keeper of the NR. Prior to the meeting each board member has reviewed the NR Form. During the meeting a NR Reviewer makes a power point presentation of the nominated property highlighting the strengths for inclusion in the NR. Upon conclusion the reviewer pronounces to the board that they strongly recommend the property be listed on the NR. Board members then make their comments on either the strengths or weaknesses of each nomination. After the board makes their comments they ask for comments from the public. The Board supported the nominations for eligibility on all eight properties and they will be passed on to the Keeper of the NR. This is usually the case during these meetings. After all, the NR Reviewers have selected these among others as presenting the best case for inclusion in the NR. The most rewarding aspect of attending the PHPB was the exuberant faces of the individuals responsible for nominating the properties. For them it is the payoff of a lot of research, constant revisions to NR Forms, and plenty of patience. However the board’s determination is not the culmination, as the property is now in the hands of the Keeper of the NR.

Photo 2: Andrea MacDonald leading the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board Meeting.

List and Links to Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board Meeting nominations.

1Marcus Hook Plank House:

2- Rachel Foster Avery House:                                              

3- Harry C. Kahn & Son Furniture Warehouse: This link is from a real estate development firm.

4- Rueben & Elizabeth Strassburger Farmstead: No link found.

5- Highland Park Camp Meeting:

6- Jacob & Juliana Middlekauf House:

7- Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge:

8- Twin Bridges Historic District: No link found.

*A quick refresher on National Register of Historic Places Eligibility:

The NPS regulations in 36 CFR 60.4 established the criteria of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and explains four (A, B, C, and D) NRHP Criteria for Eligibility. Criterion A is for sites associated with important historic events “that made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of our history.” Criterion B is for sites “that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past.” Criterion C is for buildings “that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.” Criterion D is for sites “that have yielded, or may yield, information important in prehistory or history.” D is the most important, and used, criterion for both historic and prehistoric archaeological sites. The eligibility criteria leaves ample room for interpretation with regards to what resources are determined to be eligible for inclusion and how it may be interpreted.

Rocks and Roosters

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.


Rocks: the worst thing to dig through

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.


Me in Colorado!

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.

Life After IUP

By: Samantha Savory

Hello everyone my name is Sam and I am a former Applied Archeology graduate student at IUP and an employed archeologist! I left IUP in the summer of 2013 and spent the next year or so finishing my thesis. Take it from me, finish it in school, because once you’re out of the school environment the motivation fades fast! But I got it done and I am now focusing on work and other aspects of life, I have actually read a non-academic book!


A view of my work area when I was in Rhode Island, amazing office view!

Since leaving IUP I have worked for several companies around New England as a field technician. I have worked in several states and on all kinds of sites, finding a whole lot of nothing, but that is not always a bad thing. I have worked on different phases of the CRM process, walkover surveys, Phase I’s (mostly) and Phase IIs. I have seen so many cellar holes and mills throughout New England and Native American features in unexpected places it’s been amazing. I have also seen the side of CRM that leaves you digging a meter deep into gravel to prove that the area is disturbed.


A stone pipe carved in an English fashion, found at a contact site, evidence of contact and trade.

This summer I was promoted at one of my companies and I am currently working as a supervisor in my home state of NH. As a supervisor I draw the maps of our areas and write the summary our areas, such as terrain description, why the site is sensitive and what the soils were like during excavation. I have had an awesome field season and was able to boost my resume and make awesome contacts. Beyond the awesome people I met, I was able to see firsthand how much more goes into the entire process aside from digging holes.

The Life and Times of a Stressed out Graduate Student


Field trip to Meadowcroft Rockshelter!

By: Sami Taylor

Hey guys, my name is Sami. I’m a first year graduate student here at IUP. I received my BA in History at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia earlier this year

I first learned about IUP through my spring 2015 internship with the Cultural Resource Management program at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. After getting in contact with Dr. Ben Ford and discussing the program with him via email I decided to apply. Making my final decision to enroll was difficult to say the least. I couldn’t decide whether to attend an applied program or a more theory-heavy program. I spoke with a variety of my professors, archaeologists from around the east coast, and read every bit of information about IUP available. (At one point I even listened to a podcast that featured Dr. Ford.) After weeks of mulling it over, I made my decision to attend IUP and enrolled in classes. I’m so thankful I decided to attend IUP. The friendships, experiences, and knowledge I’ve acquired from attending this program is irreplaceable.


My first Pow-Wow in Pittsburgh

Since moving to Indiana my life has changed pretty drastically. I now spend around 80% of my time working on assignments, 10% of my time managing an online catalog, and the other 10% of my time goofing off with my fellow students. Though getting used to busy days and sleepless nights has been difficult, I don’t regret a second of it. I’ve learned so much about archaeology in only three months. I’ve made so many great friendships in both my cohort and the cohort ahead of us. My cohort and I were fortunate to be welcomed into this program and into this department with welcome arms. The community here in the IUP Anthropology Department is close-knit. We laugh together, cry together, and pull all-nighters together.

It would be really hard to mention just one experience I’ve since attending IUP so I’ll list some of my favorites:

  1. Attending my first Pow-Wow in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the semester with Heather.
  2. Going to ESAF in Langhorne with Gen.
  3. Going to the Meadowcroft Rockshelter with most of the graduate students.
  4. Spending long, homework-filled weekends in McElhaney with Danielle

    ‘Accidentally’ matching in our Meadowcroft t-shirts

    and Heather (they’re usually full of not-so-funny youtube videos).

  5. Going to Trivia Night with Danielle, Heather, and Jared.
  6. Annoying Dr. Chadwick and Dr. Ford in their offices.
  7. Meeting members of previous cohorts and getting to know them.
  8. Drinking way too much coffee in Dr. Ford’s 9 AM class just to stay alive.

I can’t believe how much fun I’ve had this semester, and how much I’ve grown so far. I have no doubt that IUP is going to help me achieve my goals as an archaeologist. I’m really excited for what’s to come, and I know I’ll continue meeting so many great people along the way.