After several months of campaigning, a number of meetings with people I never thought I would be spending time with, and a lot of press coverage it has become clear that the Archaeology A level is about to end. First of all I want to thank everyone who has helped, from signing the petition to helping me write press statements. The media have been fantastic and our local radio station, BBC Hereford and Worcester, have been so supportive in trying to help drum up knowledge of the subject and our cause. Worcester Sixth Form College needs a lot of thanks here too as our staff have helped in so many ways, including keeping me sane as we try to change the minds of exam boards! And finally a huge thank you to my students, all of whom have put in so much effort to help sell the subject to others and get the knowledge out there that we exist. Without the students we really would not have had an A level in the first place.
So, now we move onto the last 15 months of the A level. And we want to enjoy it! My students and I want to make sure we make use of every single opportunity we can and show everyone what we do. The first thing I want to show is what my second years get up to every year. Their coursework has to be original; they have to undertake a unique project that enables them to practice an archaeological technique, either using actual archaeological material or producing their own artefact and testing it. This year I have the usual variation from a study of ancient Egyptian artefacts to an attempt to make hand axes in the same form that were made by Homo heidelbergensis at Happisburgh. There has been freshly baked ancient Egyptian bread and Roman samian ware from our very own city of Worcester. I am still not physically or emotionally recovered from the experience of drinking Aztec style chocolate, and I have an Australian-style boomerang and a Medieval Axe sitting in my classroom right now. All of these projects will be the topic of my next few posts, giving my students the opportunity to share what they have learnt and why they undertook their projects.
There are also so many topics we discuss in class that have wider social implications and so we will discuss them here as well. I cannot think of a more contentious issue in geology right now than the new geological time period, the Anthropocene. And the archaeologists have a few comments they want to present. We also study the Neolithic, hominid evolution as well as the development of culture and technology. The ideas we consider have wider social implications today and are well worth thinking about; whether you study the subject or not. Then of course, what about terrorism in the ancient world? While often considered a modern issue, the control of others has been seen throughout history and the tactics employed by Daesh are by no means new or unique, and how people responded in the past has remarkable similarities to acts seen today. Can we not learn from the past to avoid the same mistakes?
And finally I want to show why my students chose archaeology. The fun, the intellectual stimulation and of course the trips! The annual trips to London have become a tradition that we will continue and we will of course continue to find interesting digs wherever we can. We will also get in contact with students who have gone to university to study archaeology and see what triggered their interest. And find out what they have been up to since. We also have some archaeological material of our own that should be discussed, for example our former student Jade (now at the University of Cardiff) has been studying human remains that were donated to the college many years ago, to find out who these people may be.
So, while the future may not be as bright for the subject as we would have hoped, we certainly won't be disheartened over the next year and hopefully we can convince more people to take this subject at university as we say our final goodbyes.
The Class of 2017 Trying Ancient Egyptian Bread... Some Reluctantly!