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Assistant in the Expansion of the Fish Bone Collection
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to get more hands on experience with archaeological remains and to specialise in a very niche area of zooarchaeology, which this placement has helped me to do.

How did you find your placement/internship?

Department email

Application process

I emailed a cover letter and CV to the line manager for the placement (who is also the head of the archaeology department): I was invited to interview in which I was both asked questions and given a practical task to complete.

Main responsibilities

Creating a storage medium for archaeological fish remains; identifying anatomical elements of fish remains; selecting which anatomical elements will be put into the storage medium; preparing the remains for storage and putting them in place.

Typical day

In the earlier hours of the placement I prepared the storage drawers with foam and appropriate labels, so a typical day involves working through around 6 fish specimens, ensuring that all the labels are correct (the context number must kept clear at all times). I sort through the remains and identify the anatomical elements chosen for the storage drawers, then number the element and place it in the drawer.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I enjoyed working with the PhD fish specialist, Angela, and the other zooarchaeology students, and learning about an often underappreciated area of zooarchaeology (fish!).

Challenging aspects

The archaeological specimens are frequently not complete or damaged (meaning you can search and search for the anatomical element you need and never find it!), and the remains can be very small, necessitating the use of a microscope to prevent eye-strain. I am unused to using microscopes and found it harder than I anticipated. Identifying anatomical elements is also not as easy as it seems as each fish is different and the elements can look very different between species - this is particularly frustrating as you basically have to start from scratch with each fish.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

The Advanced Zooarchaeology module (compulsory for Osteoarchaeology students) has taught me how to adapt and succeed in identifying animal remains and taught a brief introduction to fish remains later in the term which was useful at the beginning of the placement.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Yes: it has made me realise that, whilst I do not wish to work solely with fish remains, I am capable of working confidently with animal remains and has broadened my career options.

Advice to students

Other comments

This has been a really useful placement and will undoubtedly really help me in future job applications.

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Form completed: 03 Jul 2018

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