This past summer I traveled to Bermuda and worked as a research assistant on an archeological dig run by the University of Rochester’s History Department. I, along with several University of Rochester undergraduates, graduate students, and archeologists studying and working in the United Kingdom and United States, spent our days digging on Smiths Island, a beautiful little island off the coast of St. George’s. My team worked in the field five days a week for six weeks, digging through hundreds of years of history, and discovering hundreds of artifacts dating back to as early as the sixteenth century!
Each morning the team gathered together for breakfast, then headed over to our boat, and sailed over to the island just across the water from us. Once we arrived at Smiths Island’s dock, we carried our gear through a tropical forest and hiked to our field site where we’d set up camp for the day. After a few hours of digging, we’d take a break and sit on a rocky shore overlooking the ocean as we ate lunch. We’d dig for a few more hours and then sail back to our home, Paget Island, where we were the only inhabitants. The island is covered in beautiful forest and surrounded by the bluest water I’ve ever seen. Each day after work, I would head straight to our beach to swim until it was time to begin cleaning the artifacts we had discovered that day. At night, the team often gathered to watch a movie or stargaze by the dock.
Though I am not an archeology major and had no prior archeological experience, I was able to join the expedition and learn about archeology while also conducting independent research for my Honors Thesis in Anthropology. During my days off in Bermuda, I interviewed Bermudians, attempting to learn about the impact of religion on contemporary Bermudian politics. I traveled throughout Bermuda, meeting and befriending locals, trying new and delicious foods, enjoying the most beautiful beaches, all while getting valuable work and research experience!
Being a part of the dig was one of the best experiences I’ve had at the University of Rochester, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to travel, work, and study abroad. If you’re feeling jealous of this experience, don’t worry! —Dr. Jarvis, the professor spearheading the project, plans on leading another dig in Bermuda this coming summer. Dr. Jarvis has been leading the Smiths Island Archeology Project for over ten years and has been bringing University of Rochester undergraduates along with him. If you are interested in archeology or looking for an adventure, you should definitely look into joining the next expedition!