How do you become an archaeologist?


Juliana Meyer (28) organizes and coordinates excavations. She and her team look for finds from prehistoric times and document them.

For Juliana Meyer, there was never anything other than the profession of archaeologist. As a child, she was already digging for chicken bones on her parents' farm. “You should definitely also like nature. A certain level of physical fitness is just as necessary as a healthy curiosity for things that can be found, ”she explains. She studied Classical Archeology with Pre- and Protohistoric Archeology for Bachelor and Master degrees at the University of Würzburg. Fundamentals of Classical Archeology, European Ethnology and Prehistoric and Protohistoric Archeology were some of the subjects on the curriculum. “The actual excavation activity can only be learned to a limited extent in the course of study through teaching excavations. The focus is on what you need to evaluate an excavation, ”she explains.

In order to gain practical experience, she already worked with her current employer, an excavation company in Bavaria, during her studies. After completing her master's degree, she started there straight away. In addition to her, the company employs around 40 archaeologists. "Because the excavation sizes can vary from a one-man team to a 15-person team, we should all be able to occupy different positions, depending on our excavation experience after graduation," says Juliana Meyer. In order to be employed as excavation manager, assistant or skilled worker, the express consent of the respective state office is also required.

Reading from broken pieces

Juliana Meyer is currently working as an excavation manager on a long-term construction site. “At the moment we are digging for a settlement from the Late Bronze Age or the Early Iron Age in a planned new development area. We find posts that can be reconstructed into houses, and storage pits that can be stocked with animal bones, rarely human bones, ceramics, iron and non-ferrous metal finds. If you consider that all of this is two and a half thousand years old, we were really lucky. ”In order to recover the finds, the team has to dig carefully, carefully and persistently:“ It is physically demanding work. We work in rain, snow and also at 40 degrees in the sun. You need idealism for that, ”says Juliana Meyer.

Curiosity and closeness to nature

As the excavation manager, she is the coordinating interface between the construction company, the client and the State Office for Monument Preservation. She prepares the scientific reports and writes articles for specialist journals. The assistants are your helping hand. “Skilled workers”, says Juliana Meyer, “dig pits as one imagines: in mud and on stony ground, with shovels, spades and pickaxes.” The archaeologist's tasks also include measurements, photographs for documentation, hand drawings and descriptions , Dating and pre-grouping of the finds as well as input into the in-house database.

When asked if she would like to work abroad, she says: “I could do that, the excavations are similar. But that was never my goal. The Central European region in particular has an interesting prehistory, there were Celts, band ceramists and many other interesting cultures. ”<<