"You Name It, I Collected It:" An Interview with Daniel S. Adler
Sam: What got you interested in archaeology?
Mr. Adler: I became interested in archaeology when I was a child; in fact my 6th grade science project was entitled "Backyard Archaeology." When I got to college, I majored in anthropology and worked in the archaeology lab as a work-study student. Since then, I've graduated and am now pursuing a Ph.D. in prehistoric archaeology.
Sam: When did you become an archaeologist or how old were you when you started?
Mr. Adler: I was always collecting "things" as a kid. You name it, I collected it. This has to do with my keen interest in the past. I found out though that I was more interested in what people did and thought in the past than simply the garbage they left behind. Archaeology allows me to indulge this interest.
Sam: What training or education has helped you most as an archaeologist?
Mr. Adler: All forms of experiences, training, and schooling have been indispensable. You obviously need to take a lot of courses and study hard to become an archaeologist. But perhaps the most important thing is to be patient in the field and lab, and foster good relationships with your colleagues.
Sam: What kind of archaeological work or what field do you work in?
Mr. Adler: I study human evolution, in particular the Neanderthals. I do this by excavating their sites in the Old World. I have excavated cave sites and open-air sites in Germany, England, Israel, and the Georgian Republic. I try and study all aspects of the Neanderthals but if asked, I'd have to say I'm a stone tool specialist.
Sam: Can you tell me about any interesting field experiences you've had?
Mr. Adler: There are too many to mention here. Sorry.
Sam: Where have you found your most interesting artifacts?
Mr. Adler: Germany.
Sam: How many hours a day do you work at a dig?
Mr. Adler: I generally work between 9-11 hours per day. This depends on weather, what needs to be done, how many people we have, and money.
Sam: What tools do you use?
Mr. Adler: We use everything from backhoes to dental picks. It depends on the task.
Sam: What is your favorite thing about archaeology?
Mr. Adler: Obviously, the work is rewarding or else I wouldn't do it. Besides this, I enjoy traveling, making new friends, and meeting people very different from myself. Foreign cultures intrigue me and I always learn a lot from my interactions with them. This is where I learn the most.
Sam: Is there anything you don't like about archaeology?
Mr. Adler: Often the living arrangements can be awful and travel dangerous. Water can be in short supply and bathing facilities are often lacking. Going to bed filthy many nights in a row is a real drag but you get used to it. Being away from friends and family for months and months can be difficult.
Sam: What would you say to a child who was thinking about archaeology for a career?
Mr. Adler: While I would endorse their decision, I would also warn them of the difficulties of a) traveling so much; b) finding a job; c) finding a secure job; d) finding a secure job that pays well. I think you get the picture. Archaeology can be a tough existence and it takes many years of hard work to get your Ph.D. (which you must have if you want that good job).