Friday 7 June 2019


Another in our regular series on cool careers... we talk to Marilyne, an archaeologist living in France!

Marilyne says:
I decided I would be an archaeologist when I was six and began to spend summers volunteering at sites when I was sixteen. I studied at the universities in Nancy and Lyon - I wanted to study Mesopotamian history, but it was not possible, so, as I loved the Middle-Ages, I decided to study the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. In France, we have some good laws protecting archaeological sites - before starting a building project, we check that there are no archaeological remains there, so that sites are no longer destroyed without study on our part.

Archaeology is a very difficult job - it is very far from the myth of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. It's a very physical and exhausting job, in any weather, rain or snow, and the salary is low, even with lots of diplomas. But…archaeology is my passion as well as my job. My brain is split in two: a part that lives here, today, and an other part that lives in the past with the Merovingians. I am still wondering how they lived, what did they look like! I have managed very beautiful projects and written many articles, but my best discovery is what newspapers have named : une bouteille à la terre, a bottle to the ground!!! On a site of the Merovingian era, we found a bottle with a letter dating from 1918. A letter, intact in its envelope, posted to Oklahoma city from an aunt writing to her nephew coming to war in France and posted in Lorraine. It was such a moment of emotion!

Sadly, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia so I can not search anymore or do the hard physical work of an archaeologist. I tried to think about another job, but I can’t leave… this is a passion, it’s under the skin. What do I do now everyday ? I read and correct the reports of the others, write historical records and do documentary and archival research. Sometimes, I imagine I could write books, stories about my Merovingians.

A tip to give to someone who would like to be an archaeologist? To start archaeological digs early.
It's the only way to know if the passion is really there. If it is, to prepare for an exciting but weary job, poorly paid… but if you have the passion, you will feel alive. You have to love the outdoors, but it's so much better than being locked in an office!

More details about archeology in France :

Cathy says:
I LOVE this blog! As a teen, I dreamed of being an archaeologist, and later on my son had the same dream too, although he eventually took a different direction. Thank you Marilyne for sharing your love of this career with us - and please, write those books... I for one would read them! What is YOUR dream career? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

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