As I mentioned some days ago, one of the latest crazy ideas I have had involves the creation of a quiz game on archaeology using Scratch. This is a coding language that uses blocks to create little programs, and I am using little in the most respectful sense, because it has taken me quite a deal of time to be able to code something as simple as this game. The inspiration for its creation came from my partner Elena’s preparation of her residency exam in psychology (PIR). She created countless post-its with little notes on different topics that she diligently reviewed every night. The content of this PIR exam includes any single thing ever published in Spanish about psychology, so you can imagine the extent of knowledge required for the task.
Despite general criticism in encyclopedic knowledge in archaeology, I have always taught that a good archaeologist must transcend the limits of its field of study. Although it is virtually impossible to know everything about everything in archaeology, that should not prevent us from just reading on topics or regions that are not our own research interest. I work on Greek pottery, so I am not suggesting I can become an expert on zooarchaeology just by reading a paper or a book, but doing so from time to time will allow me to understand better the work of my colleagues, and that never hurts. Many times I have met researchers that did not see the value or directed disagreed with me because of the use I give on my own work of pottery studies from other cultures, despite the fact that, regardless of the culture, the same chemical problems, and solutions, are crosscultural. It is beyond question that reading about other pottery traditions has been invaluable on my dissertation research.
Learning beyond our limits is the spirit of this game. That is why you will not find rankings, no best sores to beat. Just a final note on how many you got right. Because I did not conceive this game as a competition among us, but among ourselves. I created it as a training tool, a list of curiosities that may lack the coherency of proper training, but that can give us perspective on how much archaeology is out there and how much we can learn just by exposing ourselves outside our usual reading list. That is why after the result of each question you get a little paragraph explaining the correct answer and, when necessary, where you can find more information.
I am perfectly aware this game will not be very successful among the general public. In fact, I think more than one archaeologist will get upset about the number of right questions they may get, but that is how I envisioned it: as those walls covered up by post-its containing, this time, as much archaeological knowledge as possible. The present version you have here has only 5 questions (it is, in the end, just a beta). As any TA will tell you, there is nothing more annoying about teaching than writing quiz questions for the exams. But the coding is finished, so if you are interested about that you can “see inside” the program in my Scartch profile. Many more questions will come in the future; for reasons I do not know I want to reach 5000. For now just press Start and give it a try. Any feedback and suggestion on how to improve would be most welcome!