About April Beisaw

Dr. April M. Beisaw is an associate professor of anthropology at Vassar College. She teaches courses on archaeology and forensic anthropology.

New Semester – New Students – Same Archaeology

The Fall semester is about to begin, so this blog is coming back from the dead. Students in introductory archaeology (ANTH 100) will be posting their thoughts on the stereotypes and the realities of archaeological research. We will be using the textbook Archaeology Matters instead of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries this semester so the focus is more on social justice archaeology than pseudo-archaeology.



What isn’t changing is how their blog posts will be graded. I will be looking for relatively short posts (400-500 words or 4-minutes of audio or video) that are engaging (not dry technical writing). The posts must play of a concept that was part of the course material for that week but must also be original (don’t just reiterate the class material). All non-video posts should be accompanied by two images or one embedded video. Links must be included for any source material. (I have included links to the two textbooks I mentioned earlier.) And yes, spelling and grammar count.

Students are encouraged to use the course assistant to get feedback on their posts before submitting them here. Be sure to start the assignment early to give her time to read it and provide feedback.

Anyone who isn’t sure what what makes a good archaeology blog post should read some of the posts in this blog, my Port Tobacco project blog, or the Day of Archaeology blog. If you are bored by a post it isn’t a good one. Find one that is interesting and figure out what made it that way. I know of one student who has experience blogging about archaeology. He may be willing to talk to you about it.

Good luck and have fun!



Archaeology’s Image Problem

When people hear that I am an archaeologist they often say that they or someone they knew always wanted to be an archaeologist. Then they ask me how often I travel to Egypt and what was the most valuable thing I have ever found. Clearly their idea of what archaeology is comes from fiction.

Archaeology sites in this country, in this state, even in this town are destroyed every day by people who do not know what archaeology really is or why they should care. Some of this destruction is from construction – which is a necessary part of every town’s life. But some of it is from people who try to beat archaeologists to “buried treasure” – taking objects out of their context and rendering them meaningless (the opposite of treasure).

Students in ANTH 100, an introductory archaeology course, will be exploring archaeology’s image problem. In this blog, Vassar students will provide their insights into why archaeology may be one of the most misunderstood fields of inquiry. Each post will use content from that week’s lectures and readings to address the core issues. Posts will be either 400-500 words in length or 4 minutes of audio/video. This will allow students to focus on the main issues, as they see them. Links will be used to point readers to supporting or related information such as primary sources.

Comments and debate are welcome.

-Dr. Beisaw