Academic Guidance Archaeology vs History

Sep 2018
1
United Kingdom
#1
So I’m applying to uni soon, but I am so split in two over what subject I want to do. I’ve enjoyed the idea of Archaeology ever since I was little, but I worry it was just that, the idea, like it sounds better in my head then in reality.

On the contrary, the reading and essay writing of being a historian and studying texts is a tried and tested thing which I love!

I just worry that if I choose to study just history than I’ll be missing out. If anyone could offer some guidance of any sort I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks!
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
4,970
Canary Islands-Spain
#2
Be sure, that if you choose history, you'll barely see something related to archeology. Standing buildings and remains of some activities, yes, but you can't get into them properly, because you'll lack the methodology and qualification.

You'll basically work with texts and authors.
 
Dec 2011
1,297
#3
It really depends on the university you are going to and the kind of archeology you would like to actually do. At my alma mater, for example, all disciplines in the area of classical and ancient studies were consolidated in single department and you were able to combine elements from each rather freely. You could combine ancient history with classical and ancient archeology as a double major, for example. There is, anyway, quite a lot of overlap between both majors. However, our archeology program was quite humanity-focussed, and while you would have a bit of training in excavation and 3-d reconstruction techniques, it was by no means a vocational/natural science based program; in other words, you would do a lot of interpretation or analysis of things already found, but you would not be out in the field or in the lab. We had a Technical University nearby, where they had such a science-based program, a large part of which was taught by construction engineers, architects, and experts in urban planning. So, my take would be to choose which kind of archeology you want to do, and if it's the humanity-based type, look for double majors, and if it's the more technical/science-based type, go for a pure archeology program. It might be possible to find a dual major in history and (science-based) archeology, but you will probably have to decided on what to focus from you master onward.
 
Jan 2014
2,333
Westmorland
#4
So I’m applying to uni soon, but I am so split in two over what subject I want to do. I’ve enjoyed the idea of Archaeology ever since I was little, but I worry it was just that, the idea, like it sounds better in my head then in reality.

On the contrary, the reading and essay writing of being a historian and studying texts is a tried and tested thing which I love!

I just worry that if I choose to study just history than I’ll be missing out. If anyone could offer some guidance of any sort I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks!
Go with whichever inspires you most in the here and now. If you like scratting about in the mud in the pouring rain looking for little bits of muddy pot whilst developers chivvy you along so they can wallop a bypass through a bronze age cemetery, go for archaeology. If you prefer sitting in libraries sipping an overpriced takeaway coffee whilst checking your Facebook status on your smart phone with an unread copy of A Reconsideration of the Mid-Etruscan Lavatories of the Orvieto Region: Volume IV in front of you, go for history.

In reality, you will soon discover that modern history is a multidisciplinary approach. I am a historian, but believe that archaeology tells us far more about my specialist period than the textual sources. It is necessary to look at all forms of evidence, which means you will need to develop an interest in not only history and archaeology, but also in language, linguistics, toponymy, genetics, landscape and so on.

History students can volunteer for archaeological digs and, as all major digs are written up, can access detailed archaeological evidence without ever having to don a Hi-Vis vest or a hard hat. Archaeologists have to spend time in libraries, writing up or researching.

So, don't worry about making the wrong choice, as there are a multiplicity of routes and no one is any better than the others.
 

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