David was always a wonderful story teller and this certainly shines through in the interview. However, I was most intrigued by his awareness to the fact that, along with his intelligence and fortitude, the particular circumstances in which he entered and excelled in the field of Near Eastern archaeology were quite unique. As he says himself:
"I think I was extremely privileged by the accident of the moment that I entered the profession. When I was a young man at Cambridge there were very few people going into archaeology and at the same time it was an expanding field and of course in the British system they had all these schools abroad where you could go on fellowships and scholarships after you had received your even your first degree to the Near East"This advantage compounded as his career progressed. His earliest work was with Prof. Seton Lloyd, one of the great specialists in mid brick architecture, with whom Stronach learned valuable skills that would be applied later at his own field projects. He also excavated with James Mellaart in Turkey and Sir Mortimer Wheeler in Pakistan. These are the "founding fathers" of archaeology in the Near East that every first-year archaeology student learns about.
|Stronach at Ras al'Amiya, Iraq (www.archaeology.org)|
The interview reinforces the circumstances, many out of your control, that can dictate the course of your professional career. In this time of struggling economies, shrinking budgets, and minimal numbers of jobs, especially for archaeologists, it is a somber suggestion (or reminder?) that perhaps we were born at the wrong time or went to the wrong graduate program. It could also be a lesson in "not crying over spilled milk" because there was nothing you could do about it anyway. Not optimistic news for my many friends who are trying to land the tenure-track, but then again perhaps it is a wake-up call to pursue your dreams in some other fashion. Get creative and take risks. That's what I did, and so far, it is paying off.