Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interview with Cameron Monroe.

As we mentioned yesterday, we were happy to host Professor J. Cameron Monroe on the first day of excavation here at Berkeley. Professor Monroe has been working in Benin and is on research leave for the next few months so how could we possibly resist getting an interview to see what he thinks about the excavations here at Berkeley, his current research and (no agenda- we promise!) what his opinions are about the use of student social media in archaeological excavation.

Social Media Team (SMT): So, the first thing is, what are you doing in the UK at the moment?

J. Cameron Monroe (JCM): I’m a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and I’m on sabbatical for three months, I’ve been here for a month so far and I’ve got two more months to go. In addition to exploring the potential for some collaborative projects with the department of Archaeology and Anthropology here [Bristol] I’m writing up the results of 15 years of field work.

SMT: What have you thought so far about Berkeley, this is the first time you’ve been here?

JCM: It’s an amazing site, you walk up here and immediately you’re struck by all of the amazing work that’s being done here. It’s also clearly integrating students very well. I’m very impressed with the excavation going on over there. I haven’t seen a wide exposure excavation area like that in a long time. Working in Benin [West Africa], we haven’t had the resources to do that kind of stuff. But seeing all these young archaeologists out here getting excited by doing archaeology- it’s very cool.

Professor Monroe was excited to see all of the students on site.
SMT: How does this compare to, for example, student digs that you’ve seen before?

JCM: I think they’re very similar, I mean one of the things that this reminds me of is a lot of the archaeology I did in Virginia when I was in college. Very near, actually, things like Berkeley plantation which were named after Governor Berkeley who obviously has family connections to this property [Berkeley Castle]. But very similar, one of the things we do in the States is camping out by the site but that varies depending on where you are. But you’ve got like, forty odd students here, all working hard- clearing the site and getting ready to find some cool archaeology. It’s very exciting stuff. It’s really interesting that this trench that you’re cleaning right now covers so much of English History in what, 20 by 40 metres? All the way from the Romans to the civil war and beyond.

Students hard at work in the Paddock
SMT: What do you think about using social media for excavations and student excavations in particular?

JCM: I’ve never done it but I think it’s a great idea. Anything that gets information about a site and how important cultural heritage is, is a fantastic idea. And also, people like the students’ parents get to check in a little bit ‘cause if these kids are anything like American kids they’re probably not calling home all that often- they’re too busy having fun! So Mom and Dad get to check in and see pictures of their kids at work. It’s a great idea.

We were so glad that Professor Monroe enjoyed his time in Berkeley and look forward to welcoming other academics over the next few weeks. Remember to keep following our progress through all of our social media sites and check back tomorrow for more of our antics! Until then, from all the students at the Berkeley Excavation press office, happy digging!

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