‘An archaeologist is really like a detective because he is always on the lookout for clues of various kinds which will help him in forming some idea of the way of life and customs of the people who lived in ancient times. As he is usually dealing with that period of time in which no written records were kept of the people’s activities, he has indeed a difficult task’. – Breandán Ó Ríordáin (from his personal collection of writings, 1956)
What do Archaeologists Do?
Archaeologists examine ancient sites and objects in order to determine facts about the past. By studying the material remains of the past, archaeologists gain a better understanding of landscapes, vegetation and the climate of previous times. They may specialise in different geographical areas, historical periods or types of object.This career by its nature requires patience and good attention to detail.
Archaeologists carry out excavations called ‘digs’. The analysing and interpreting of archaeological remains is only a portion of the work that is actually carried out by archaeologists, there are many other job opportunities open to them.
Career options for Archaeologists:
• Working with local authorities on the archaeological implications of planning applications
• Assisting with the preservation and conservation of particular artefacts
• Working in the research and education sector
What Subjects should I Study for my Leaving Cert?
Geography would be very useful as the physical landscape is a significant component in this line of work.
Science subjects such as Chemistry and Physics alongside Maths will provide a good foundation for those interested in Archaeological science and research, and will also help with on-site surveying.
History will give you an insight into how life has changed and how these changes are interpreted and presented to the public.
How can I become an Archaeologist?
To become a licenced Archaeologist you would most commonly need a minimum of an archaeology degree. Below are a list of colleges that provide further education in the field of Archaeology with links to the relevent departments in each:
Click here to read about Brendan Ó Ríordáin’s fascinating career as an Archaeologist and his excavations on the Viking strata beneath Dublin City.