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  • Writer's pictureIsabelle Johnsen

Viv's First Field School

Hello! My name is Vivienne and I will be telling you all about my experiences working at Knossos this summer. My post will be centered around my personal experience of my debut in the realm of fieldwork in archaeology. Being a part of a project such as KLASP 2022 as an undergraduate student was incredible, and I cannot stress enough how generous and supportive my mentor was throughout this process. While I have been told there is a culture of ‘hazing’ in academia where mentors target their students, this was not something I experienced in any way shape, or form; no question was considered too trivial, and no mistake was mocked.

Dr. Emilia Oddo, Dr. Joanne Day, and Dr. Conor Trainer were all incredible instructors. While I was a part of Dr. Oddo’s team Dr. Day and Dr. Trainer were more than willing to answer any questions I had about their respective fields. Working under Dr. Oddo's supervision, my fellow Tulane students and I assisted her with the sorting and cataloging of sherds and other objects from the Northeast Treasure House, specifically within the Kamares area. These objects have not been looked at or studied since the original excavations conducted by Evans and McKenzie, and to have the chance to handle these materials and witness Dr. Oddo working within her expertise was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and seeing her passion for the Minoans was so cool. Along with the incredible work we were doing, the other student groups from Warwick and Dublin meshed so well with us Tulanians, which made the experience that much better - we all had a great time nerding out on literally every site we went to, every museum, and every niche piece of information given to us. Being the only member of my family interested in archaeology, specifically in the Mediterranean, it was great to be surrounded by people that shared my enthusiasm for the topic. Having professors who appreciated and encouraged my interests reinforced my excitement about being in such a supportive environment.

I am aware of how fortunate I am to have this as my first exposure to archaeology outside of the classroom. As I said previously there is a common culture and mentality of ‘if you can’t handle the pressure, get out. While I have not experienced this myself, many of my peers have undergone this treatment, and several professors have also discussed this aspect of the field with me. I want to emphasize the enormous impact this has had on my academic path. I have taken several classes with Dr. Oddo; one specifically was a seminar on the Bronze Age. We had briefly covered this time period in the other classes but taking this seminar made me so much more interested in the subject. And then to go to Crete and handle the material I have studied so much about? Oh my god, I was blown away.

I also need to mention that the team from Tulane was composed of only women. Izzy and Renee came from Oxford to be a part of the project, and I loved seeing two women interested in the same thing as I was - and continuing to pursue it. It was inspiring and a big incentive for me to continue on this path. In a male-dominated field, it is important to recognize the marginalization of women in academia. Izzy has spoken about this in a few of her previous posts, but being able to be a part of this team added to the reward of this experience.

On top of all, the amazing things I’ve said about this project have also helped me gain the experience I need to find other opportunities to handle materials. I am currently studying abroad in Athens with the CYA (College Year in Athens) - I highly recommend I have been having a great time so far - and have decided to take my Aegean Prehistory class at the 400 level. A part of this is working on another project/paper aside from the one assigned to the entire class. Due to my previous experience at Knossos with Dr. Oddo, I have been given the potential opportunity to choose objects from the BSA (British School of Athens) and handle them personally. The fact that the stratigraphical museum (the strat as we call it) is also associated with the BSA helps significantly as I already have a connection to the institution.

To wrap things up, this project was a life-changing experience. I highly recommend that any students interested in archaeology and/or classics try to be a part of anything similar. It gave me a goal to work towards and was so rewarding. Izzy and Renee were such good role models I literally want to be them when I grow up (even though I’m 22 lol). Thank you for reading and dealing with my rambling raving about this experience!

By Vivienne Colbert :)

1 Comment

Sep 24, 2022

sounds like a cool experience!


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