Just like a late night bar about to close, this is the last call for unwritten rules in professional archaeology. It is July 12, and the deadline date is midnight on July 14. All unwritten rules on any archaeological subject from anyone on the planet are still welcome here at the Archaeology in Tennessee blog. You can still submit anonymously by e-mail if you wish (see previous main posts below on this blog).
The very high worldwide enthusiasm for unwritten rules in professional archaeology took a sudden, immediate, dramatic, and extremely deep nosedive when we asked for the unwritten rules in academic archaeology. It was as if we had entered a zone that had a huge, flashing neon sign above it saying: FORBIDDEN ZONE – THOU SHALT NOT ENTER. In fact, no one has submitted a single unwritten rule in academic archaeology, Nada. Indeed, the whole matter reminded us of an old Gahan Wilson cartoon:
We would like to attribute this sudden silence to some sense of perverse sacredness surrounding academic archaeology or some fear factor that has always been present in academic archaeology circles. The fear factor might be stated as:
“Gosh!!! I’ m working in CRM right now, but I am thinking about graduate school in archaeology. If word ever got out that I had submitted an unwritten rule about academic archaeology…my goose might be…”
However, to be perfectly honest with you, ALL unwritten rule submissions went “dead as a doornail” (to quote Charles Dickens) at precisely the moment when most summer archaeology field schools were ending and with the onset of the Fourth of July holiday celebration here in the United States. It may just have been that everyone needed a vacation from archaeology and a trip to some palm-fringed beach.
Nonetheless, we will make like Paula Abdul (See the Today’s Music button above) and ask some questions “straight up” to all of you fine readers. Straight up…now tell us:
1) Is academic archaeology a sacred cow—and if so—why? Why is it so sacred that no one would submit even one unwritten rule.
2) Does the thought of posting an unwritten rule in academic archaeology strike fear in your heart—and if so—why?
3) If the answers to Questions 1 and 2 are “yes,” does the academic system in archaeology really deserve so much sacredness, and should it be allowed to continue operating in a manner that induces such paralyzing fear?
4) If the answers to Questions 1 and 2 are “yes,” what can you do personally (each one of you) to change that academic system—to make it more warm, safe, and nurturing.
Okay. The Archaeology in Tennessee blog closes this post with our second example of an unwritten rule in academic archaeology:
You have just received a B.A. in anthropology or archaeology and have arrived at another university to pursue a graduate degree in archaeology. In conversations with your new professors, do not develop even a small habit of “dropping the names” of the famous archaeologists you have studied under as an undergraduate. A number of archaeologists around the world have deep personal enmity with other archaeologists, and you may not know who detests whom. Some are not above transferring that old grudge directly onto you if they see you as being too closely affiliated with an archaeologist they personally detest.