College Student Documents Her Archaeological Life with Cartoons

November 28, 2014
Editor: Amanda Wu
College Student Documents Her Archaeological Life with Cartoons
One of Li Ziyi's archaeological cartoons [weibo.com]

Li Ziyi, a female college student majoring in archaeology, has recently been causing a stir on the Internet with the witty cartoons she has drawn to record her archaeological studies and daily life.

The senior student from Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, released the cartoon series via her microblog on Weibo (China's Twitter).

Li's cartoons have also drawn the attention of those professionally involved in the archaeology field. The Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) re-mastered and posted her cartoons on its official website: www.kaogu.cn.

While archaeology in the eyes of many people is boring and tedious, "unfit for girls," Li — one of the few females who chose the field of study as their major — found it to be rather "fun" in the beginning.

"I was greatly influenced by The Secret of Grave Robber and Ghost Blows Out the Light, two popular Chinese novels with plotlines built around archaeology," explained Li. "In my mind, archaeology simply consisted in digging ancient tombs, unearthing dinosaurs and evaluating antiques."

However, when she attended university, Li found that what she learned in class was rather boring: The program focused primarily on the historical elements of archaeology and was not at all the great adventure she had imagined it would be.

Later, she also found that archaeology was tiring work. Apart from unearthing historical sites, archaeology also comprises many other facets, such as field research, indoor material arrangement and cultural-relic restoration. It even entails manual labor, such as excavation and, eventually, hauling away dug-up earth.

During a field study, Li and her students remained outdoors for 10 hours on end with temperatures of around -5 ºC. "Although we wore four pairs of pants and two pairs of socks, we still felt cold," recalled Li.

That having been said, archeology has also brought her much fun and enjoyment. Just as police would meticulously gather evidence to crack a case, Li and her fellow students pore over pottery pieces, stone artifacts and skeletons — pieces of evidence for cases of the more "historical" variety.

"For example, by examining a skeleton, we can identify its age as well as the sex of the person to whom it belonged," said Li. "It's also quite gratifying to discover a common thread among a pile of newly unearthed artifacts."

"Although it's tiring work, each archaeological-fieldwork trip is definitely an unforgettable experience," said Li.

As a means of recording these memorable moments, Li, who has liked drawing from a small age, dusted off her pen to start keeping a comic-style diary of her archaeological experiences.

In the meantime, Li also hopes that her archaeological cartoons posted online can help more and more people understand and fall in love with archaeology.

(Source: Dahe Daily and Zhengzhou Daily/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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