Changing Planet

Archaeologist Fred Hiebert on Reddit IAmA

You might not know it, but at some point when you were little, playing in a pile of dirt, you probably wanted to grow up to be Fred Hiebert.

Fred is the National Georaphic Society’s official Archaeology Fellow, and he has excavated incredible buildings, unearthed fascinating artifacts, and helped protect and interpret some of the most priceless treasures of the ancient world (explore his discoveries).

Today at 1pm ET, visit Reddit IAmA and you can ask him anything.

Part 1: The Backstory

Last fall, on the shores of Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan, Fred and his co-researcher Kristin Romey fielded questions from around the world on Reddit’s IAmA platform, where people simply get online and say “I am a … [in this case, archaeologist]. Ask me anything.”

After several hours of questions, he finally ditched the mouse for the trowel and got back to work. Now he’s back and eager to continue the conversation. But before you jump in, enjoy some highlights from last time:

Wolfgang_oo: What is the strangest thing you’ve uncovered during your excavations?
fredhiebert: Ah, good question…how about 6,000 year old toilets?

pokee2: How do you decide which sites to go to?
fredhiebert: Good question! It’s all about connecting the dots–I’m fascinated by the Silk Road and we’ve heard about China and the Middle East but it’s all about the places in between- that’s where the coolest stories are.

Veeks: Do you ever feel like Indiana Jones? What did sheep eyes taste like?
fredhiebert: Indy was afraid of snakes, but they don’t bother me. Sheep eyes: it’s kind of like biting into a Blow-Pop: crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside–but not as tasty…

jakeblues94: What got you interested in doing archaeology?
fredhiebert: Actually, I was interested in art & ended up doing drawings for archaeologists and thought it was so cool that I went back to school for archaeology. There’s nothing like holding a 3000-year-old artifact in your hand!

(Read the full conversation here.)


Part 2: Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. Ever wondered what it’s like to unearth a human skeleton? To travel across Mongolia on horseback? To dust back the earth from the remnants of an ancient palace? To open the Ark of the Covenant?

Ok, maybe not open the Ark of the Covenant, but you get the picture.

Join Fred today at 1pm ET on Reddit IAmA and get a taste of what archaeology is really all about.


Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. He is currently beginning a new role as communications director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history.
  • Mark Leonardson

    Did you mean “Fred is the National G(eog)raphic Society’s official Archaeology Fellow…”?

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