South Africa: Jack Bish

Photo of Jack Bish
Jack (far left) with fellow program participants and leaders.

Program: UW Archaeology Field School, Summer

Major: Anthropology

Academic Life: The Swartkrans program experience was based on fieldwork and research. A typical day entailed a short, early morning commute to the site and about six hours of excavation. The seminars were led by the program director and bone expert, Dr. Travis Pickering, and program associate Dr. Matt Caruana. Our seminars covered human evolution, stone tool manufacture and history, geology, site formation, and the history and theory of evolutionary anthropology and biology. The mix of fieldwork and classroom discussion led to a wide ranging and stimulating educational experience.

Most Memorable Moments: As part of the program, we met influential scientists like Bob Brain, Kathy Kuman, and Ron Clarke, who have had great influence on the field I care so much about. They were an inspiration before, and even more now. I am forever grateful to have met them.

Perspectives on Fieldwork: Fieldwork requires lots of patience and hard work. We excavated in small spaces that were cramped and exposed to elements. We worked inside a cave for six days a week, so being able to cope with stressful situations and make the most of them is an important thing to keep in mind.

Advice for Students Considering Swartkrans: If you have an interest in Anthropology or human evolution, I would strongly recommend participating in the Swartkrans field school. Acquiring knowledge in field school and advanced techniques of excavation and evolutionary theory is invaluable in our field – this is the experience of a lifetime.

“Have an open mind and heart, lots of patience and understanding, and you will be blown away by the experience.”