Dr. Julie Schablitsky grew up in Minnesota, where her interest in "old things" was piqued by fossilized imprints she found in the gravel of the family driveway. Following her passion, Julie received an M.A. in anthropology from Oregon State University and a doctorate focusing on urban archaeology from Portland State University. She is a longtime friend of Time Team America team leader Adrien Hannus, who was the first real archaeologist she ever met. Now a resident of Maryland, Julie oversees twelve archaeologists and architectural historians as the head of the Cultural Resources Section for the Maryland State Highway Administration. Under her leadership, the department has developed a public outreach program to complement their work preserving the archaeology Julie describes as "everywhere around us." In addition to her work in Maryland, Julie also retains an affiliation with the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, where she conducts research and publishes on historic-period archaeology sites. Julie's current research focuses on the Donner Party of California, 18th and 19th century sites in Maryland and John Paul Jones' birthplace in Scotland. As a continuing part of her research into the life of the famous sailor and US Navy hero, she leads an expedition to Scotland each summer to excavate sites important to his life.
Time Team Q&A
I have yet to have my best find. Since moving to the east coast, my dream is to find a wig curler. I am sure it is just a matter of time — I just hope I don't mistake it for a porcelain doll leg.
Secret Dig Kit Weapon
Sharpened bamboo chopstick. Some people get used dental picks from their dentist to excavate artifacts caught in a delicate situation; however, I prefer picking up a pair of chopsticks from my favorite Thai restaurant and sharpening them in a pencil sharpener. Bamboo won't scratch bone or other easily damaged artifacts.
It has to be the Donner Party site in California. It was truly surreal to pick up broken bits of dishes and chopped bone from around their fire hearth, knowing the suffering they endured during the winter of 1846-47. When we discovered fragments from writing slate, I found myself effortlessly transported back in time watching the Donner children warming themselves around the fire as they scratched words and numbers on their slate boards held tightly on their laps.
When did you first know you wanted to be an archaeologist?
As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be an archaeologist. I remember sitting in the lunch room in first grade telling my friends that I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up. None of them really knew what an archaeologist did, but I explained to them it would involve travels to far away lands and mummies. In high school most of my friends had Billy Idol or John Stamos pinned up on their bedroom walls while I had the perfectly preserved mummy of Ramses II and a framed poster of the Sphinx hanging on my walls.