Why do I do Archaeology?

On occasion I try to trace my interest of archaeology back in time, when and what made me interested in this subject. For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested and I can think of a few things that got me hooked. Born and raised in the Swedish town Jönköping this is where my interest stared and grown.

  1. My father is interested in history and historical remains and often told stories (more or less historically correct) about past times; kings, knights, castles etc. On vacations we often visited historical and ancient monuments, museums and such. This is a probable one of the reasons; my father’s interest afflicted me.
  2. I have flashback memories of visiting the provincial county museum of Jönköping were I grow up. I remember my fascination of skeletons, craniums and swords. My strongest memory from the museum is not an archaeological one but an installation that was supposed to be a troll cave as reconstructed from the imaginary paintings of Johan Bauer. I can remember the artificial smell, the excitement and expectation, the darkness, the big ugly troll (I think it was made in paper mache or something of that kind) and of course all the treasures: all that gold, the diamonds and pearls etc. This really made things spin a small boys mind. I can’t remember caring much ‘bout the princess though. The museum is probably another reason to my interest in artifacts and bones.
  3. A friend of my parents’ was/is an archaeologist, who at the time worked in Jönköping on several excavations. I remember that my father brought me along to watch some of the digs he was working on, which if I remember correctly was in the central parts of town. I can still remember the excitement of being allowed within the rope off area. There was something in the smells of the old dirt, the found artifacts and the setting that just felt right. I think that the possibility to learn of history not through books but by hand was appealing to me; maybe I saw it as a short cut. To be able to experience archaeology first hand is most certainly a reason to my growing interest.
  4. Because of my interest in archaeology and other things old I remember that my mother tried to encourage this by buying books about archaeology, old coins, unsolved historical mysteries etc (I still think I have a few of those somewhere in my bookshelf). Books lead to more books and the information in those to knowledege and a need to know more.
  5. A bit later on came the inspiring Indiana Jones movies, but at that time I had already been hooked since long.

There are several things when one thinks back that has molded ones mind in a certain direction. Some might have been more or less deliberate others indeliberate. As time went by I realized (as a young’un) that a career in archaeology was a tuff one so I went for a more fashionable solution: Media.

I went to a residential folk high school, Hantverkets folkhögskola i Leksand (now Leksands folkhögskola), for two years to study, this did lead to a short career in media industry. I worked for a few years with TV-production at Strix Television during 1995-1998 or something like that. It was a fun time but I got tired of it quite quickly it wasn’t really what I was searching for instead I ended up working as a cashier at a gas company called OKQ8 for a few years before I decided that it was time to go back to school: Stockholm University and the department of Archaeology. This was in the fall of 2000 and since then I have either studied or worked, mostly as an archaeologist/osteologist, the cashier job at OKQ8 have proven to be a valuable asset as it is a perfect job in between other jobs.

About the future, who knows, if I get the possibility I would love to go back to the University for a PhD in archaeology or osteoarchaeology. One thing is for sure my interest have not diminished over the years, if something it has grown stronger and I have more questions today than yesterday and every answer leads to more questions, that I believe is the nature of science and what pushes one to learn more and widen ones own horizons.

Magnus Reuterdahl

About Magnus Reuterdahl

I am an archaeologist/Osteologist from Sweden. My main intrest lays in north Euorpean archaeology in, preferbly the prehistory of the late iron age and the neolithic periods. I've also got a strong intrest for Chinese archaeology, especially the neolithc Yangshao culture. I also write about cultural heritage and cultural history. Mitt namn är Magnus Reuterdahl, jag är arkeolog och osteolog och arbetar företrädesvis i Sverige även om jag gjort ett par vändor till Kina. På den här bloggen skriver jag om mitt yrke, om fornlämningar, kulturarv och kulturhistoria m m. View all posts by Magnus Reuterdahl

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