Although my time in the UK is not quite over yet, sadly this past Saturday I had to say goodbye to the place I have called home the past six weeks. On Friday afternoon we left the Vindolanda site for the last time, and said goodbye to everyone that had been with us from the beginning of this adventure, and those who had only had time to stay for two weeks.
Being a student of Anthropology with a special interest in Archaeology, I was excited to discover what it was like to be in the field, learning valuable new skills and techniques in a hands-on atmosphere, as well as applying the knowledge I had been taught for the past three years into the real world.
Nothing could have prepared me for the adventure I was about to begin.
Indeed, we were exposed to new techniques and knowledge, but we were also granted the privilege to meet experts in the field of Classical Studies and Roman Archaeology. We hiked along the rugged path of Hadrian’s Wall, and marveled at the utter beauty of the countryside, and appreciated the determination of the ancient peoples who had called this land home.
We visited other Roman sites and walked among the ancient stones, visualizing such places as they would have been in antiquity, restoring the past using fragments from the present.
In many ways, this experience has changed the course of my life. I now know that many times in order to understand the present, we must look to the past. I’ve decided to pursue a career in Archaeology, because now, after spending hours in the mud and the rain and the dirt, I’ve some to realize that there is no other place I would rather be, and nothing else I’d rather be doing. To hold a piece of the past in my hands, to be the only human in hundreds of years to uncover and hold something so simple as a hairpin, or a shoe or a bronze fastening…is just unreal. It enables me to reach out across the distance of time, to make a direct connection between an inanimate object and a once living, breathing, conscious person.
Of course, the opportunity to accomplish these adventures would not have been possible without the generous help of those who realize the worth of Archaeology and the importance of reconstructing such ancient cultures in order to better understand the history of humanity. I would like to take this time to thank every donor who has helped the Vindolanda Field School and the Vindolanda Excavations; know that your generous offer has enabled me (and countless others) to participate in this life-changing experience.
In addition to our generous donors, I would also like to thank the staff and supervisors of the Vindolanda excavation for being so kind and welcoming to our group; your hospitality made the entire experience that much better, and the knowledge and experience you have shared with us will stay with us the rest of our lives.
Lastly, but most importantly, the entire field school would not have been possible without the careful planning and tremendous efforts from our field school directors, Elizabeth Greene and Alex Meyer. I thank them both for an unforgettable experience and the chance to give us undergrads the opportunity to discover and practice Archaeology and the study of the ancient Roman world.
In the end, saying goodbye to Vindolanda was sad but also not so hard…after all, I’m already planning my next visit!
This is Emily, signing off for now.