Eric Deetz pursued many offbeat career paths (including guitar manufacturing and sail making) before finding his calling as an archaeologist. Luckily, each of these jobs informed his perspective on human history. Now, Eric is a Consulting Archaeologist for the James River Institute for Archaeology in Williamsburg, Virginia. Known as an adept teacher and excavation director, Eric believes public involvement in archaeology is paramount, and his innovative approach to speaking about history wins audiences over. Eric holds an M.A. in Archaeology and Heritage Management from the University of Leicester, UK, and for ten years was Field Supervisor for Jamestown Rediscovery. As Senior Staff Archaeologist at the project, he presented dig tours, where he had the opportunity to explain many research projects to the visiting public. The tours are now the most popular educational programs on the site. Eric's father was the late James Deetz, a pioneering archaeologist and former director of the UC Berkeley Anthropology Museum and a former director of the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, where Eric spent most of his childhood.
Time Team Q&A
In 10 seasons at James Fort, the site of the 1607 English settlement, I was lucky enough to dig up truly amazing artifacts such as 15th century armor, Elizabethan coins, not to mention being one of the crew that found the fort itself. But the one find that really sticks in my mind is a jeton or casting counter (jetons were used to keep count much like an abacus) made by Hans Krauwinkle at the end of the 16th century. On one side was the goddess Fortuna and the other was Fama the goddess of fame with her two trumpets. Fame and fortune. This is exactly what the colonists were seeking in 1607 and to a degree what we as archaeologists are seeking as well.
Secret Dig Kit Weapon
Atomic fire balls. Nothing raises the crew's moral on cold days more than handing out these little hot jawbreakers.
Hands down Jamestown. I spent a fifth of my life there, I met my wife there and had the best mentor you could ask for in Bill Kelso. The archaeology was mind blowing and the crew became like family — in some cases it was family.
When did you first know you wanted to be an archaeologist?
My dad, Jim Deetz was an archaeologist of some note, so I literally grew up on archaeological sites. As a kid you assume you'll do what your dad did. Later in life I tried many other things but I always came back to archaeology. I guess it was in my blood.