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Archaeologists Stupider Than Chickens

Archaeology fieldwork makes me look old. “Fit as a fiddle,” is how Fruugal gently describes it. “Old” is how I do. I wear my 8 seasons of archaeology fieldwork on my face. The sun, heat, cold, wind, rain, snow — all of nature’s moods in the extreme — greet me in rapid succession whenever I [...]

Archaeology fieldwork makes me look old.

“Fit as a fiddle,” is how Fruugal gently describes it. “Old” is how I do.

I wear my 8 seasons of archaeology fieldwork on my face. The sun, heat, cold, wind, rain, snow — all of nature’s moods in the extreme — greet me in rapid succession whenever I go out to work, and they take their toll on my face.

A telltale mark of an archaeologist is that they look a decade older than what they really are. This is because the profession is one that weathers you quickly. There is no leaving the extreme turns of climate — no, you work outside through anything and everything weather can throw your way during the day.

Self prortrait of an archaeologist

Self portrait of an archaeologist

My grandfather once told me a story about how he was a construction foreman and he had his crew working out in the rain. Eventually, one of his crew — a big black guy — walked up to him and said:

“Walter, do you know how big a chicken’s brain is?”

My grandfather was taken off guard by the questions. “Yeah,” he said, “I know how big a chicken’s brain is.”

“How big is it, Walter?”

“Well, it is about this big,” my granfather replied while forming a small circle with his index finger and thumb.

“That right, Walter, a chicken’s brain is real small, but yet that muthaf’cker has enough sense to get out of the rain.”

Archaeologists are, apparently, stupider than chickens.

“Working outside always sucks,” my father once told me, “it is always either too hot or too cold. It ain’t ever just right.”

This is true.

In the desert it was too hot, nights in the Tonto forests are too cold. I can feel my body expanding and contracting with each bounce of temperature from one side of the termometer to the other. And I watch my face age.

For 18 months — besides a stint at Copan in Honduras — I sidestepped the archaeology fieldwork, and I observed how my aging seemed to halt its progress during this time, giving my age the opportunity to catch up to my apperance. Now that I am back to the archaeology I look in the mirror and find a face looking back that is sun tanned, weathered, and grissled.

Archaeologist working in Southwest

My face is back in the saddle again.

Note: This is an anecdote that I wrote a couple of months ago and delayed in publishing. It is out of temporal order.

Read more about archaeology field work

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Filed under: Archaeology, Arizona

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3425 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

7 comments… add one

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  • Bob L January 6, 2010, 2:39 pm

    “The Order of the Knights Temporal will get you for this.”

    Oh, Uhhh, Temporal, not Knights Templar……

    The Department of Temporal Investigations will be visiting you to discuss your crime. Captain Kirk was a big violator of these laws, so you will be in good company.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 6, 2010, 2:51 pm

      Bob,

      The order is really going to have to come after me by the end of this week. Expect more where this came from — digging out everything and publishing.

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  • fruugal January 6, 2010, 6:18 pm

    Get outta here! You’re in your prime. : )

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  • Baron January 13, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Dude,

    “Stupider” is not a word.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 13, 2010, 1:39 pm

      Why not?

      Link Reply
  • Baron January 14, 2010, 3:02 pm

    Because the powers that keep the dictionary haven’t included it. It always goes back to “the Man” doesn’t it?

    Maybe you’re a trend setter and one day “stupider” will be in the dictionary. I was in high school, maybe jr. high, when “ain’t” became a word. Good times putting that in the teachers faces – point for the kids.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 14, 2010, 4:27 pm

      I suppose I proved my point then:

      Archaeologist ARE more stupid than chickens haha

      Chickens don’t stand out in the rain and they don’t use poor grammar haha

      Wade

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