Unwritten Rules in Archaeology: Where Are the Academic and Museum Archaeologists?

The Archaeology in Tennessee blog offers its thanks to everyone who has submitted their unwritten rules in professional archaeology so far.  Keep them coming  as they enter your noggin!  This is the summer 2014 field season in the northern hemisphere, and most archaeologists are engaged in some sort of archaeological fieldwork.  Therefore, it is not surprising that most of the already submitted unwritten rules are focused on fieldwork and CRM archaeology.  if you say the word “archaeology” here in the American southeast, the knee-jerk response in the brain goes immediately to field archaeology.  However, everyone knows that archaeologists tend to spend far more of their time teaching, doing laboratory work, researching in the library, and writing reports.  With that thought in mind, we would like to hear the unwritten rules in laboratory archaeology, academic archaeology, and museum archaeology, and all of you human osteologists, zooarchaeologists, paleoethnobotanists, etc. are welcome to chime in here too.

As an example, we can offer up one classic unwritten rule in academic archaeology that has been firmly in place for many decades.  Some undergraduate and graduate archaeology students who are unfamiliar with this rule get really angry when they first encounter it, and some are invited to leave the university archaeology program forever when they throw a 7-megaton nuclear hissy fit over it.  Here it is:

It was your creative idea.  You did nearly all of the hard work in the field, laboratory, and library, including writing up 95 percent of the results for publication.  You thought this was your big chance for solo authorship of an important article in a major archaeological journal.  Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, your academic advisor or lead professor is the major author on the paper and you are relegated to co-author.  Swallow hard and submit graciously because this is a lot more normal than you might think it is.  From your professor’s perspective, having your name sitting next to his gloriously famous name on the “by line” makes you look like one hell of a great up-and-coming archaeologist, and he gets to enlarge his curriculum vitae along with yours.

So, keep the field archaeology and CRM unwritten rules coming, but do not forget to tell us your unwritten rules in laboratory archaeology, academic archaeology, and museum archaeology.

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