Tomorrow, I fly to Romania for my first archaeological excavation. Honestly, everything has lead to this moment – becoming an archaeologist has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.
Okay, story time.
When I probably six or seven one of my favourite books was this huge picture book that showed the progression of a single street over time. Each page was a different time period from early prehistory to the present. I remember looking at how the street changed between pages but also what remained the same – noting the archaeological strata because even then I was a huge nerd. Flash forward a few years and I’m digging in my mom’s flower bed when I discovered an old piece of ceramic pipe. (I used to live in an old Victorian house in downtown Lawrence.) I remember showing the pipe to my family, clearly thinking it was coolest thing in the world. I guess, that was the beginning of the archaeology bug… and it caught on faster than the Bubonic Plague.
I checked out books from the library about Egypt, Greece, and Rome and read each cover to cover. Then I moved to the Middle Ages. I even started collecting spare change in an old milk carton so that one day I could travel to Europe and see the pictures in the books in real life. I remember going to a museum with my grandmother and coming face to face with my first mummy. Maybe it was morbid, but I couldn’t look away. That was a person. A person with a story and a past and a life. A person that lived thousands of years ago. I wanted to know everything about them.
But anyway… I think you get the point that I really, really, really love what I study.
Which is why I applied to Edinburgh and thank God I got in. So, for no reason other than I really like what I wrote/I leave for my first archaeological excavation tomorrow and I think it clearly articulates what a huge f*cking nerd I am – here’s my personal statement I submitted in my UCAS application.
Throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome, I made a promise to the Numenii to become an archaeologist. My last night in Italy, I stayed awake listening to Florence’s Duomo and I knew there was no other option.
Living an ocean away from what I love is difficult. I can get close, but never close enough. After reading about the bog bodies of Northern Europe, I wanted to understand bog mummification. With the nearest bog 4,000 miles away, I made my own. Researching the science of the bogs, I learned about the micro-environments that cause different strata of preservation. I mixed together peat, lime, and water to create my bogs. By using chickens from my local grocery store, I chronicled the process of mummification. After two months, I exhumed my chickens. They looked the same. I had recreated the bogs in Lawrence, Kansas. In those moments, history comes alive, even though I am far from it.
Research and experimentation can get me close, but nothing compares to the real thing. I have wanted to travel abroad for a long time. Yes, I am guilty of taking virtual tours of historical sites on Google Earth. In 2013, I went to Italy. Standing in the Amphitheater at Pompeii, I wept. I could hear the trumpets frozen there since 79 AD. Walking in Pompeii, I was connected to people thousands, of years ago. In Cumae, I stood in the same place as Virgil’s Sybil, a girl the same age as myself, and read the ‘Aeneid’. At the Sistine Chapel, I could envision Michelangelo painting in the rafters. Until then, history had been in black and white. Now, it was in Technicolor.
Back in Kansas, I was homesick for Italy. For so long, I have felt out of place, out of time; finally I had found somewhere I belonged and could connect.
My coin in the Trevi has been my motivation. I have a published book entitled ‘Amelia and the Heroes of Old.’ In 2011, I was recognized by our Governor as one of Kansas’s Outstanding Authors at the Kansas Book Festival. I have written comprehensive papers on the longbowmen and their contribution to representative government in medieval England. In order to understand the sources, I learned to shoot a longbow. History came alive the moment my fletched arrows flew just like the yeoman of Crecy, Pointers, and the armies of King Henry V on the muddy fields of Agincourt. Thumbing through declassified CIA Documents, I created a documentary about TPAJAX, the Anglo-American involvement in the 1953 Iranian Coup. My documentary was an alternate for the National History Day Competition in Washington DC. In Italy, I gave a report at the Temple of Vesta. For so long, I had studied the temple. It was a dream to be giving my report while walking the same path as the Vestal Virgins. In March, I will be in Greece and do the same at the Temple of Athena Nike.
I am fourth in my class with a weighted GPA of 4.063. I am Senior Class Secretary, three time Latin Club President, two time member on the Kansas Junior Classical League (KJCL) Council, and a member of Young Feminists Club. From KJCL, I have awards in Roman Culture, History, Myth, Art, and the National Latin Exam. This is my fourth year of Latin. I have also taken one year of Ancient Greek. Lastly, I am a second degree black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do and a Varsity letterman in Pole Vault, Cross Country, and Basketball.
I have never wanted anything as much as I want to be an archaeologist. I think about my coin in the Trevi everyday and I know that each day I am one step closer.