Field Seasons

Reflections on Career Paths and Research in American Archaeology

In Field Seasons, Anna Marie Prentiss chronicles her experiences as an archaeologist, providing an insider’s look at the diverse cultures, personal agendas, and career pathways associated with American archaeology since the late twentieth century. As the narrative moves from her academic training to employment in government and private consulting to her eventual professorship at a state university, several themes emerge.

This book is about career paths. Its discussion of the diverse jobs within the archaeological profession makes it valuable to students seeking guidance about their career options. It also provides insight into the cultures of American archaeology, a discipline with many schools of thought and unique subcultures. The world of archaeological field technicians is quite different from that of government bureaucrats or academics. Prentiss also explores the elements of cultural change within archaeology while she reflects on her personal evolution throughout her thirty years within the discipline.

The book’s unique personal assessment of the state of American archaeology will appeal to a broad swath of students and professionals. Students will find it an entertaining road map to possible careers while professionals will find plenty of scholarly material concerning ethics, archaeological theory, and interpretations of the archaeological record.

Anna Marie Prentiss is a professor of archaeology at the University of Montana. She is coauthor of People of the Middle Fraser Canyon: An Archaeological History, and coeditor of Macroevolution in Human Prehistory: Evolutionary Theory and Processual Archaeology and Complex Hunter-Gatherers: Evolution and Organization of Prehistoric Communities on the Plateau of Northwestern North America (The University of Utah Press, 2004).

Praise and Reviews:

“A significant contribution. The 1970s and onward were times of great expansion and change in the ar-chaeological discipline in the United States. Prentiss tells two stories. One is a very personal story of her path through archaeological training and becoming a professional. The second story is more general in that it conveys the larger trends in theory, practice, and career opportunities that this period of change and expansion created. She weaves the personal and the larger context together masterfully.”—William H. Doelle, Desert Archaeology, Inc.

“There ought to be more books like this that discuss the wider social context of our profession, and more academic archaeologists like Prentiss who have experience of life outside academe, given how much such personal, social, and environmental circumstances influence the questions that we ask about the past.”—American Antiquity

Field Seasons will be of interest to archaeologists across the field—as essential reading material for students considering career options in archaeology; as an ethnography of the contemporary practice of archaeology and therefore useful for classroom discussion; as a retrospective on the discipline for practitioners from across sectors of North American archaeology; and as a good read for anyone involved in a field-based disciplines or curious about the life of an archaeologist.”—Canadian Journal of Archaeology