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EXPLORER HERO:
CHRISTINA CONLEE
by Kristen from Mission Viejo

Christina Conlee posing by some artifacts. (https://www.archaeological.org/lecturer/christinaconlee)

From all my years of education, I have realized that I probably will be most successful in my life if I pursue a career in the fields of math or science because I have discovered that I succeed in these subjects and I actually do enjoy going to the classes. One career that has always stuck out more than others is an archaeologist. I recently found Christina Conlee on the National Geographic website while searching archaeologists and instantly became fascinated by her story. I was really amazed to find out that she is making a name for herself due to her discoveries for the Nasca Lines. This career interests me because I love exploring and I am really fascinated by fossils and when you are an archaeologist, you travel a lot to new sites and investigate fossils and artifacts from the past. Even though, I am only in my beginning years of high school, I am pretty sure that this will be the career that I will pursue in college.

As an archaeologist, you either have the option to work in an office, laboratory or a field analyzing samples and artifacts. According to Occupational Outlook Handbook website, archaeologists typically work in colleges and universities, museums and research organizations. There are surprisingly very few that actually work in the fields of archaeological digs. And, along with this more glamorous side of the profession comes the challenge of traveling away from their families for extended periods. The Occupational Outlook Handbook website also states that if you want to become an anthropologist or an archaeologist, you should have a master's degree or a Ph.D. in anthropology or archaeology. For a better chance at a higher paying job, you probably want to also have some experience in fields working with other archaeologists or you might want to take some extra classes to get a better understanding of the job. The website Study.com states that if you only have a bachelor's degree, you are generally only going to get jobs like an assistant or a surveyor, but if you want to have an higher job then you should probably get a graduate degree because then you can qualify for archaeology firms. As of the year 2015, an archaeologist will probably make $49,209 per year. In the past year of 2014, there have been many important discoveries for our society, for example, they recently found a 3,000 year old human skeleton that had soft-tissue tumors throughout his body which has been identified as the earliest evidence of cancer, as the Listverse website states.

When Christina Conlee was younger she always had a longing to become a scientist, but once she got into high school, she started to get more interested in history. When she was an undergraduate in college, she took an anthropology class since she had a passion for both science and history. On the National Geographic website, Conlee states that she had a helpful professor that motivated her to follow her dreams and that's how she got to where she is now. She also states that she had the opportunity to go to Peru with her advisor and got to work with her in Nasca. The Livescience website states that Nasca Lines are a series of fantastical geoglyphs etched into the desert in Peru, that was used by two groups of people to make a pilgrimage to an ancient temple A normal year for Conlee involves teaching students at Texas State University during the school year and then traveling to Peru during the summer to study the Nasca Lines -most recently, the Middle Horizon time period, according to the TSU website.. One summer, while working at Nasca she discovered a well preserved headless skeleton with a "head jar" next to it. This discovery was featured in the March 2010 National Geographic magazine and brought her some fame.

Christina Conlee has a manuscript of a book called Beyond the Lines: 5000 Years of Ancient Society in Nasca, Peru, which has been approved for publication in the upcoming year of 2016. Conlee has been writing books/journals on her discoveries over the years since 2009 about her findings on Nasca. Conlee also spends most of the year teaching students on archaeology at the Texas State University. In 2010 a movie was released called The Nasca Lines Buried Secrets which contains facts on Conlee's findings on the Nasca Lines. These past years for her has been exciting and stressful, but definitely worth all the long, tired days because now she is on her way to being one of the better known working archaeologists.

Christina Conlee's success has inspired me to dream of becoming a great archaeologist one day as well. For starters, I plan to get good grades throughout high school and college. In my upcoming years of high school, I am going to start searching for and applying for classes that will help me get a better understanding of the career and some experience. In college, I would like to pursue a double major in anthropology and history. Upon graduation, like Conlee, I will pursue both academic appointments and practical work in the field, revealing how ancient artifacts connect to past human civilizations.


Written by Kristen from Mission Viejo
Photos courtesy of Archaeological Institute of America website
Last changed on: 1/17/2016

Christina Conlee Department of Anthropology, Texas State

Rising Star Dr. Christina Conlee Archaeologist provides rare insight into ancient Peruvian culture

National Geographic Bio Christina Conlee

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