Human beings have always been fascinated by the discovery of where we came from or what came before us. Archaeologists play a very pivotal role in helping us understand the roots of human civilisation. It can also help us in being prepared for long-term consequences. For example, through archaeology, we can observe the role of humans in causing climate change or environmental change. The job of an archaeologist is not just limited to digging up ancient ruins. They have many other roles as well.
In a thousand years, archaeologists will dig up tanning beds and think we fried people as punishment.
~ Olivia Wilde
The amazing discovery of Harappa and Mohenjodaro during the 1920s led to the increase in interest among the scholars towards Indian archaeology. The Archaeological Survey of India was established in 1861 which is a premier organisation for archaeological researches and protection of cultural heritage of India.
Archaeology is divided into the following 5 branches. Hence, you can pick the branch which interests you the most and works in it.
- Aerial archaeology
- Battlefield archaeology
- Computational archaeology
- Experimental archaeology
- Environmental Archaeology
- Forensic archaeology
- Landscape archaeology
- Maritime archaeology
- Museum studies
Archaeologists are typically hired in-
- Local authorities
- National heritage organisations
- Professional developers
- Archaeological trusts
Courses and exams
To study archaeology, you can opt any out of science, commerce or humanities in 11th standard. However, subjects such as history, sociology etc would be more beneficial for a career in archaeology. This can be followed by a bachelor’s degree in Archaeology, History, Geology or Anthropology.
Some institutes providing the above-mentioned courses are given below.
- Institute of Archaeology, Delhi.
- Delhi Institute of heritage research and management.
- School of archival studies.
- School of historical studies, Chennai.
- Xavier’s college, Mumbai.
- The University of Calcutta.
- Utkal University.
The work of an archaeologist involves the following roles and responsibilities.
- Using geological surveys and aerial photography to locate suitable excavation sites.
- Maintaining handwritten, photographic and electronic records of work done.
- Guiding co-workers and other staff members.
- Collecting analysing and interpreting data.
- Radiocarbon dating of finds.
- Creating visual simulations of how sites or artefacts would have looked.
- Mathematical, statistical and computational modelling.
- Nature of work done is extremely thrilling and interesting (Indiana Jones!).
- You can travel extensively.
- Not a limited desk job.
- Can work anywhere in the world.
- Can find something worthwhile that is forever etched into history.
- For increasing tourism, archaeology is a huge contributor, hence archaeologists are in rising demand.
- Work can become tedious regularly.
- The working conditions can be harsh sometimes and you might need to be away from home for long periods.
- Can be cut off from outside world for the period of working in a site.
- Wages not extraordinary.
Salary and growth perspective
The salary of an archaeologist working with the Archaeological Survey of India is very low. The basic pay scale may vary from 9000 to 15000. This will increase with experience. Therefore, it is recommended to get into academia along with the research work for a comfortable lifestyle.
- Meticulous attention to detail.
- Inquisitive mind.
- Good IT skills.
- Ability to analyse data.
- Communication skills.
- Leadership skills.
- Ability to work under harsh environmental conditions.