Future Archaeologists

19/10/2022

During Heritage week the Maritime Archaeology Department hosted two job shadow students from two different schools. Joshua Beerwinkel joined us from Pinelands High and Riley Payten came from Montgomery & Miller Academy in Somerset West.  Both boys expressed an interest in Historical archaeology.  Jake Harding introduced them to the Iziko Maritime Archaeology Lab by explaining the conservation procedures followed on collections from waterlogged environments.  He also introduced them to the 3D recording system we use in the field and the lab.  Next, they helped clean a collection of rusty bayonets from our collection.  These bayonets were from an excavation done by the Archaeology Contracts Office in King Williams Town and was handed over to Iziko as official repository (we will be reporting on this collection in the near future). 

Joshua really enjoyed this aspect of hrois job shadow whilst Riley helped our intern, Anna Boot, with the analysis of a ceramic collection from the wreck of the Dutch East India Company ship Middelburg that sank in Saldanha Bay in 1781.

We also showed the boys some of the equipment we use in Maritime Archaeology like magnetometers, metal detectors, and Global Positioning systems. They seemed to have thoroughly enjoy themselves and both wanted to come back as volunteers during the school holidays! In fact Joshua joined us again for the week long school holiday in October to continue his study and cleaning of the bayonets. We hope to see the two boys again for part of the December school holidays.

Joshua wrote this short paragraph on his experience in the lab:

While shadowing the maritime archaeology department of the Iziko Museum, I was given the opportunity to learn how their lab functions. In four days, I was able to help analyse English military bayonets from the 19th century, attempt to reassemble porcelain from a shipwreck in the 18th century and learn 21st century methods to conserve artefacts.

I was also fortunate enough to use much of the equipment in the lab and if archaeology wasn’t exciting enough before, it certainly is now. I have learnt so much not only practically, but also about what the job of an archaeologist entails. What I’ve taken away is that an archaeologist’s primary purpose is to conserve and interpret history so that others may enjoy it in the future. It is a purpose which I would be proud to fulfil. The genuine passion and excitement with which everyone goes about their work is inspirational. I’m truly grateful for this experience.

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