On a recommendation from fellow blogger Zeitspringer, I enrolled in a free online course through Coursera called Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets, a very basic introduction to archaeology taught by Susan Alcock, Director of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University.
Now with the first week and the first course unit behind us, I have a better idea of what it’s about and how it works. Each study unit involves several reading assignments (last week’s included online articles from the BBC, the New York Times, the Smithsonian Institute among others), videos (interviews by the instructor or one of her grad assistants with various field experts), and a practical exercise for which one submits a piece of writing (400-750 words) which then goes through peer review and is graded. Each of us will also be required to review some of our fellow students’ submissions. Six years of blogging made coughing up around 500 words to expound on Shelley’s poem Ozymandias no great chore. Whether what I wrote is pertinent enough to the exercise remains to be seen…
But so far I can recommend a course like this for anyone who just wants to learn a little more about the subject in general and in a structured way in particular. Obviously we won’t be going out and digging somewhere, but we’re getting a deeper look into various sites, what’s being found there and the contexts in which the finds are seen. The running theme “secrets” I find a little too cute for my taste, but it’s fine for a general course for people like me who wouldn’t have time right now for anything more strenuous or academic (Seriously. I have miles of lyrics to learn for the next production.)
Related to this, I have added “archaeology” to the list of searchable categories here, and linked all pertinent posts (there are quite a few!)