The voice of archaeology in Britain and beyond

Cover of British Archaeology 89

Issue 89

July/August 2006



Sensational new discoveries at Bryn Celli Ddu

Missing royal table discovered in Westminster Hall

Unprecedented divide over Stonehenge

DNA surprise: Romani in England 400 years too early

Drama of Shrewsbury's lost medieval bridge

In Brief


Balloon over Stonehenge
Martyn Barber considers a photo taken 100 years ago.

Discovering Scotland
Dave Cowley looks back on 30 years of air photography.

Forgotten hero
Miles Russell finds Nero in England.

on the web

Recommended websites


Views and responses

CBA news

Headlines from the CBA office.


ISSN 1357-4442

Editor Mike Pitts

on the web

Be rich, famous and travel the world

Who would be an archaeologist? Caroline Wickham-Jones wonders where to start.

It is a long time since I set out to become an archaeologist; sometimes I wonder whether I have achieved my goal. I am still asked how I got into archaeology and how best to start out. Nowadays the internet adds a new dimension for those wishing to pursue a career in ruins. I turned first to the professionals to see what they suggest.

The Institute of Field Archaeologists ( offers little help to would-be archaeologists, opting to recommend the Council for British Archaeology (CBA). Its feature on training is more about continuing professional development, and curiously contains a whole section advertising courses run by Oxford University Department for Continuing Education – but no mention of the many courses elsewhere around the country. Its weekly jobs bulletin ("the best and most comprehensive source of information about work in archaeology"), available by subscription to IFA members, is "primarily intended for the archaeological profession".

The CBA itself offers various pages relating to starting out, though you need to hunt them down. There is education information, and a useful fact sheet series, including Getting Started in Archaeology and A Job in Archaeology, which promise to answer your phone queries. The learning directories seem geared to England, so I turned to the Council for Scottish Archaeology ( who provide easy to find information including a fact sheet on careers and links to universities in Scotland that offer archaeology courses. This information does not seem to be available for Wales.

Another link from the CBA page takes you to TORC (, the Training Online Resource Centre for Archaeology. It provides information on formal education, from GCSE onwards, though test searches suggested that this may not be complete and could be out of date.

Current Archaeology provides similar advice, if with more humour and eccentricity. All agree that archaeology is not a route to wealth, seeming at times curiously keen to persuade people not to enter the profession. ca's "Archaeology has traditionally always been a career open to the talents" would be better put as "open to the financially independent", but that has long changed, and there are careers to make.

Further afield, the joys of archaeology have been recognised by ( and though it may not offer much on-line information the (brief) description of volunteering ( is at least realistic. A personal, but informative view, geared towards those in Canada, is provided by Caroline Rocheleau – a useful insight into the highs and lows of archaeological training wherever you are.

There are local sources of information. Cambridgeshire Archaeological Field Unit's question "How can I become an archaeologist?" does not link to their careers page, but once found, it is useful, with sections on volunteering and community work (

Universities and colleges offering archaeology naturally provide web pages to attract you to their courses. There are too many to list here but the CBA has another fact sheet (

One of the most pragmatic internet pages is ALEC's. Its description of the archaeologist's life offers free leaflets on "salary negotiation tips" and "UK debt consolidation".

Websites to speed up your career

Bringing ancient Greece to life

Joseph Sivell describes an impressive new British Museum website

For the past seven years the British Museum has been publishing a series of websites under the title Ancient Civilizations. The latest,, was launched earlier this year.

Two years in the making, this new free site aims to explore the world of ancient Greece in a fresh and exciting way, bringing to life the culture and history of this endlessly fascinating civilisation. Using a stimulating mix of photographs, stories, maps, animation, illustrations, 3D models and interactive experiences, the website combines real objects with new technology to bring ancient Greece to life and the important historical ideas into sharp focus.

The museum's Greek collection has long been popular with audiences of all ages, but ancient Greece is now a compulsory history topic on the national curriculum for KS2 (7–11 year olds). That means that all school children in England will study ancient Greece. The British Museum's world famous collection together with its curatorial and new media expertise mean we can offer something unique online. While the site is intended for use in schools, it is also designed to appeal to an interested adult audience.

Following its highly successful predecessors, uses a tried and tested format. The content is divided into chapters covering themes such as Festivals & Games, Daily Life or Athens. Each one has three sections titled Story, Explore and Challenge. The navigation system is very clear, and teachers have said how useful it is to have different styles available to suit different ways of learning.

Stories tend to consist of linear information which is sequential in nature, often a narrative such as The Journey of Odysseus. Explores are used for information which does not have a simple linear structure, where the order in which you discover things does not matter. For example, you can explore the ancient city of Athens, from the busy Agora to the harbour at Piraeus.

Lastly the Challenges are where you are really made to think. A problem is set and by working through it your skills and understanding develop. The Gods & Goddesses Challenge, for example, deals with iconography by training you to recognise symbols on decorated pots.

Even though all chapters have a story, explore and challenge, the treatments are individually designed to deliver their messages effectively.

So, for example, in one challenge you can design your own temple to Athena to add to the Acropolis. You can choose the order, the materials, even the decoration. By the time you have finished you will have understood a lot more about Greek architecture and the decision-making processes that ancient architects may have gone through. This is a fairly open activity, there is no correct answer and every temple will be slightly different. By comparison, in another challenge you must dive down to a wreck and piece together clues to trace the last journey of an ancient ship – a puzzle with one probable answer.

The stories show the most surprising variety, from a traditional linear delivery for the battle of Thermopylae, to the Athens story which lets you compare the lives of six different Athenians through the course of one day.

The website contains an exciting array of material, enough, we hope, to keep any student of ancient history enthralled. It is also richly populated with objects, many of which you can examine with a digital magnifying glass.

The British museum has a world class collection of ancient antiquities. Now the museum is reaching out in a very modern way to the next generation, to spark and inspire interest in ancientcivilisations. Other sites in the series cover Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. All can be found at or

Joseph Sivell is project manager of the Educational Multimedia Unit at the British Museum,

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