9. Beginner's Guide to Archaeology: The Modern Digger's Step by Step Introduction to the Expert Ways of Unearthing the Past by Louis A. Brennan
When I was in middle school, 2 of my best friends, Chris Harley and Ron Fuchs, both of whom I lost touch with years ago, were into both archaeology and comic books just like me. I remember very fondly the "Archaeology Day" which were were able to organize as a trio and get approved as a legitimate all-day on campus "field trip"for our entire 8th grade class at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD. If I remember correctly, we conducted this special day under the guidance of Mr. Cooper, our 8th grade history teacher, and possibly with the assistance of Mr. O'Brien, our very likable 7th grade history teacher.
On this day, Chris, Ron, and I led 3 teams of students as we took turns digging 3 test pits maybe 6 feet square by1 foot deep in 3 different locations on campus. McDonogh is an incredible private school that I was blessed to attend from 4th grade until high school graduation. Movie fans will recognize the school from many of the interior classroom scenes in the movie Dead Poets Society, including the seminal "Captain, my captain" scene. I can still remember my pangs of envy as if it were yesterday, when Chris's team sifted out a late 1800s Indian head penny from their pit.
Skip forward several years, and when it was time for me to apply to colleges. Suddenly gone were my parents' encouraging dinner conversations over National Geographic PBS specials on forgotten civilizations. Faded were our 5 or 6 times a year trips to the Smithsonian Museum complex in Washington, DC, where I had learned to love the idea of archaeology like an extension of my own skin. Replacing all of this was the much more practical suggestion that I pursue civil engineering as a major in college "if I really wanted to dig in the ground..."
Well, civil engineering didn't stick. My eventual bachelors degree from Duke University was in cultural anthropology -- a major that I graduated with honors thanks to a very wacky undergraduate thesis on mythological and folkloric symbolism in American UFO abduction stories. With this, my most prominent academic risk to date, I won top departmental honors and graduated number one in my major. I had majored in anthropology precisely because Duke didn't have an archaeology department, and anthropology was the closest I could get.
Well, life happens, and our interests change. Life moves on, and many years later, my personal journey appears to have taken me in every which direction BUT archaeology. That is, until my recent 1-week trip to Mexico, during which I visited 4 separate major Mayan ruins in the jungle and a 5th smaller village site and museum in Cancun.
In honor of this rekindling of my childhood passion, I recently purchased this book at the Strand, and am very pleased to include it in my 100 book challenge this month.