Without some form of dirt an archaeologist’s job would be too easy. And we all know that anything worth doing isn’t going to be too easy. Take, for example, our last few weeks on the Blumenhof dig. We all go out there, day in and day out, rain or shine; mostly shine though to a few the students’ dismay. Yes, for the last couple of weeks (last week especially) it has been crazy hot out. With this heat also comes the sweat. It dribbles down our foreheads, drips down our backs and soaks our hair through. And all of this sweat makes the perfect sticking surface for the wind-blown dirt that is ever present at the site. You can only get out of it if you hide in the canola, but hiding in the canola only makes you develop a fresh layer of sticky sweat.

Our author, Sam (R), and Carissa (L) after a dirty day in the field.

Between the sweating, the digging, and the wind, we weary students trudge into the Village at the end of the day only to be startled by the horrible sight that greets us every day in the bathroom mirror: ourselves. Next comes the rampant cleaning frenzy. The sinks go on and paper towel is piled on counter as we try to peel back the layers of dirt until we get back to some recognizable version of ourselves, finding dirt in places we didn’t think was possible (i.e. in our ears according to the daily Q-tip).

Kirsten, Erin, and Mercedes screening dirt.

Luckily as the days past we began to accept the fact that we are in field school and we are going to get dirty. Not too long after, we learn to laugh at each other’s dirt spots, we embrace the dirt mustaches and beards, and we wear our ‘White in the morning, brown in the afternoon’ t-shirts with pride. Do you have Soil Sideburns? That’s just a sign of a job well done. Is that Dirt Tan washable? That just means you’ve put in a good days work. If there is anything any of us will take away from this field school, it’s that dirt is good, it shows you what great feats you can endure, and it shows you that today you grew just a little bit stronger. It’s a sign that says “I’m awesome!”, and we love it.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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