Mick Aston’s Advice to Would-be Archaeologists

We’ve been reflecting on Mick Aston’s legacy as an outstanding archaeologist, outspoken educator, and overall cool cat.

DigVentures was started with a huge amount of inspiration from the ‘Aston Approach’ to learning, doing, and being. The video below pretty much sums it up: ‘…you’ll be a long time employed, so for god’s sake, do something interesting!’.

One of the best moments of the video is Mick’s epic head-shake at 2:55, in response to a question about the many people he meets who are ‘bored stupid’ by their safely-chosen careers, and who wish they had followed their passion and been archaeologists. This rings so true for DV: our crowdfunded digs are full of fantastic people from many walks of life who share this exact feeling with us. The mortgage is paid, the kids are gone, now I can do what I should have done all those years ago – but couldn’t, because of my responsibilities.

Mick’s extramural teaching career was dedicated to helping those people follow their hearts and find a way in to the profession, in the same way that our digs and training is also designed to help provide a pathway for involvement and engagement. No matter how much or how little you want to do, how far you want to go with your learning, there has to be a way to harness the awesome in archaeology, and above all: SHARE IT.

It’s such a shame that archaeology’s professional career trajectory alienates so many people – those who want to do, as well as those who want to try – and we hope to be a part of the solution along with many other colleagues in the profession who are fighting hard towards the same goal.

We’ve watched this clip several times today – it’s comforting to just listen to Mick, and be reminded once again why we do what we do. We may have lost him, but there’s no reason why we can’t pick up Mick’s banner and continue to enact the values he expresses in his inimitable style.

Thanks again, Mick!


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DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!

Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Written by Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Co-founder and Managing Director of DigVentures, Lisa makes sure the boxes are ticked, the diggers run on time, and that everyone has a *really* good time along the way. She is responsible for the Americanisms, ridiculously strong site coffee and early morning DV dance parties.

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