Return to Blog

Under the Etruscan Sun: Lessons in Life and Leadership from a Classical Archaeology Student

Tags: Fellowship

3.7.16 Jordan Memorial Blog.jpg

Jordan Miranda, a dear friend and valued colleague, passed away on February 29. It is a tragic loss for the El Pomar family and he will be deeply missed. Several weeks prior, Jordan wrote this blog post, “Under the Etruscan Sun.” We share it in his memory, as a reminder of his character and wisdom and a model for living our lives.

In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, one character describes another’s facial expression as “a mixture of pride and panic.” I imagine this described my parents’ faces when I broke the news to them; pride at the fact I had chosen to double major, panic at the fact those majors were anthropology and history. Collectively, these majors allowed me to pursue my childhood interest in archaeology, the study of the material remains of past cultures in order to better understand human nature. Admittedly, neither of these majors is particularly marketable. However, my archaeological experiences – in the classroom, in the lab, and in the field – taught me a number of life and leadership lessons I believe are applicable in any sector. These are the five most important:

1. Nothing beats fieldwork: Hollywood makes life look glamorous, textbooks make life look dull, and the news makes life look frightening. The only way to know for sure is to go out in the world and experience life yourself.

2. Everyone has a story worth telling: Kings may make the history books, but you can learn a hell of a lot studying the lives of so-called “common” people. There’s a reason archaeology has shifted from studying the works of great men to studying the day-to-day existence of villagers.

3. The greatest discoveries are often found through the least glamorous work: I am one of the very few, very lucky people to have made a published discovery as an archaeology student. I found one of the smallest inscriptions currently known in pre-Roman Italy, and I did it while using cotton and a toothpick to chip and brush dirt off a piece of pottery originally excavated almost 50 years ago

4. Leadership requires flexibility: Life is like excavating; you need to be adaptable. Trenches are often cramped places, and proper excavation requires both strength with a pickaxe and finesse with a brush.

5. Nothing lasts forever: As strange as this may sound, archaeology taught me resilience. Every person dies and every building crumbles, no matter how great or small. Life is about making the biggest impact you can with what time you have.