#152 Archaeological Relationship Silliness

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Are you one of those types of people that calls their significant other silly names while at home? Do you have little idiosyncrasies that you share with no one else but that one person?

I think most of us have developed those little familiar habits at least once with someone in our lifetime. If you stay in a relationship long enough you are bound to grow together and “learn to finish each other’s sentences”. I put that in quotes because I don’t think couples gain some sort of psychic connection over time. I just think people learn each other’s mannerisms and gain new ones together given enough time. What’s this have to do with archaeology? I’ll tell you.


I think crews on long CRM projects can sometimes gain this level of familiarity. For example, my second project was an excavation in downtown Miami where about 20+ people were employed. Many of us hung out after work on a regular basis. When you spend all day and then all evening with a person, or group of people, you are bound to assume some of each other’s traits and mannerisms. We’re not as unique as we like to think we are. As new experiences are shared the small idiosyncrasies are incorporated by the group, not just one person. It’s like being in a long term relationship but you get it all at once in a very short period of time.

Nothing tests a relationship like living in a tent!

Nothing tests a relationship like living in a tent!

That makes me think about my own relationship. I met my wife on my first project ever. It was only for about a day before the project shut down but we were also, coincidentally, on my second project together. After that project ended we both went our separate ways having never had a relationship. Months down the road we started talking again. Eventually I went down to work with the company she was working for and we’ve been together ever since.

For the first five years of our relationship we shovelbummed around the country together. We were ALWAYS on the same projects together and most of the time we were on the same crews. That changed slightly as we both gained experience and were crew chiefing our own crews. Either way we spent nearly ever minute together for five years.

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Most couples that are not in archaeology (or a field with heavy travel requirements) see each other in the mornings -- maybe -- and then in the evenings for a few hours. Of course they have weekends too, in some cases. The morning time and evening time is likely spent taking care of children if they followed the pattern of much of the country and had kids early on.

Let’s do some simple math. If you take out the, let’s say 10 hours, that a couple is apart during the day then it would take an extra 22 weeks per year of togetherness to equal the time an archaeology couple spends together in the same year. Over five years that’s over two years that an archaeology couple has spent together versus a non-archaeology couple! Might not sound like a lot but over time that builds up.

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Now, some of you may be saying that you wouldn’t want to spend that much time with your significant other. That’s another problem that’s beyond the scope of this very un-scientific post.

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I guess my point is that if a relationship between two archaeologists that work together can last for several years -- hell, even one season -- then they’ll probably make it for quite some time. If you come home every day and just want your space -- everyone needs space sometimes, just not all the time -- then there is probably a deeper problem that needs to be addressed before it rears it’s ugly head.

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I’ve had several experiences with a handful of people and have formed friendships that will likely last the rest of our lives. The friendships I’ve made with those people stand the test of distance and time. I only occaisionally see one of my best friends and we rarely speak on the phone. However, when we are in the same place at the same time it’s like no time has passed. We’re just as good of friends as we always were. Those friendships that don’t need constant maintenance are the good ones. I don’t believe that you should have to work at a relationship either. If it doesn’t just work then it’s probably not worth it. That’s my humble opinion. Feel free to disagree in the comments.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!