This 2014 graduate is now working on his PhD at the University of Florida, studying material remains of pre-Columbian peoples of southeastern North America.
Why did you choose to study archaeology during your undergraduate time at Appalachian?
I came to Appalachian State with an interest in history, science, writing and the study of different cultures. I was immediately drawn to the archaeology program because it allowed me to incorporate both technical skills used in field work and analysis with creative skills used in writing a narrative based on the recovered data. The instruction I received under my professors at Appalachian State prepared me for the technical aspects of the recovery, analysis and reporting of archaeological data; but more importantly, their teaching fostered critical thinking and opened my mind to the possibilities that archaeology affords in the greater goals of understanding what it means to be human.
What are you doing now?
After graduating from Appalachian in 2014 I entered the Anthropology Ph.D. program at the University of Florida in order to further my study in the material remains of pre-Columbian peoples of southeastern North America. Currently I am conducting research in the “Big Bend” area of the Gulf Coast of Florida as part of the Laboratory of Southeastern Archaeology. The laboratory’s current focus is the Lower Suwannee Archaeological Survey with the mission of identifying and recording imperiled coastal sites in the region before they succumb to rising sea levels due to climate change. Specializing in zooarchaeology, I am exploring evidence for the use of animals, particularly water birds, in iconography and ritual practices at shell mound sites dating to the Middle and Late Woodland periods.
How did your time at Appalachian prepare you for your career after graduation?
The Department of Anthropology at Appalachian presents a unique opportunity for the undergraduate student to work closely with professors while developing personal research interests. After graduating, those professors who were teachers and mentors during my time at App have remained available when I am seeking their advice with research questions and career matters. Before considering the pursuit of a degree in archaeology, I would caution that it is not a license to loot, nor is it as glamorous as it is depicted in Hollywood. But for those who enjoy writing, hard work both afield and in the lab, and the search for the obscured clues left behind by past humans, archaeology will afford you the opportunity to contribute to a body of knowledge that is bigger than “Yosef.”