Archaeologist Career Information
What an Archaeologist does
Archaeology can be an extremely interesting field of study to quench your curiosity about the past and its secrets. It is a multi-disciplinary science involving a great deal of training in subjects like Chemistry, Anthropology, Geology, etc.
Learning about the past civilisations involves knowing about every aspect - the lifestyles, the architecture of the regions, cultural influences, etc. This makes Archaeology a very engrossing and fulfilling career, as well as one of the most demanding and competitive branches of social sciences.
Archaeologists in this line of work excavate, preserve, study and classify artifacts of the near and distant past in order to understand the ancient civilisations. It is mainly thanks to them that all our old artifacts and objects of historic importance are preserved.
The work of an Archaeologist is very slow and meticulous. Moreover, most of the archaeological sites are situated in earth's extreme temperature zones. Here, you will often have to spend hours in extreme climatic conditions carefully dusting a fragment of a Harappan building with a toothbrush or examine thousands of tiny, nearly identical chipped stone axes.
One of the major aspects of the job of an Archaeologist is epigraphy. This involves taking ink impressions of ancient inscriptions on copper plates, stupas, rocks, monuments, etc. and decoding or deciphering them. Another equally important area of work is numismatics, which is the study of old coins, paper money and items such as medals for the purpose of understanding and restructuring the past.
Most Archaeologists work at major universities teaching History, Anthropology, or in the Archaeology departments, as this is one way to earn a living between research grants and excavations. When they are not teaching, many Archaeologists are working on digs far from home.
You can also find work with museums, art restoration, fine arts, etc. The Archaeological Survey of India, which hires many people. You can also find ample opportunities in educational/research institutions.
There has been a renewed interest in the field of Archaeology. As such the scope for archaeologists in India has only widened. Archaeology is often paired with Anthropology.
Archaeology is the study of entire cultures and societies while Anthropology is the study of the development of people within societies. While drawing their conclusions, Anthropologists rely heavily on the work of Archaeologists.
Individuals who no longer wish to be Archaeologists may join any of the various disciplines, for example, become Historians, Linguists, or Surveyors.
Abilities & Traits Required
First of all, you got to have a genuine interest in ancient culture and history. You need to be inquisitive (a probing nature), perceptive and willing to work hard. Good physical stamina is extremely important. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be artistically inclined.
You can take up Archaeology as one of the subjects at the BA level. For this you need to have studied History in your 12th. For an two-year MA you need to have completed your BA in Archaeology or other related areas.
You can also choose to do a two-year post graduate diploma course at the Institute of Archaeology after an MA/MSc in archaeology or anthropology or a Masters degree in medieval or Ancient Indian History. You will have to appear for an interview and written exam to enroll for this course. On being admitted you become eligible for a small stipend per month.
There are numerous institutions in India where you can pursue Archaeology. The Institute of Archaeology, in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India (Delhi) is the best.
The study of Archaeology involves both theory and training in the laboratories. A lot of stress is laid on fieldwork where students spend time excavating, analysing the relics and monuments, practice procedures of preserving the items and also drawing and photography.
Apart from the hard work involved it gives you the opportunity to see what the career has to offer before deciding on a particular area of interest.
Those employed by the Archaeological Survey of India are normally paid around:
Ass. Archaeologist Rs. 10000- 15000 per month
Director General Rs. 25000-35000 per month
This is the basic pay, with the recent revision in payscales and allowances the average monthly pay at entry level works out to be around Rs.20000-35000 per month.