Student Profile: Timothy Boykin

ECU undergraduate researcher Timothy Boykin is classifying North Carolina artifacts to inform the public of the state’s rich history.

Major: Anthropology

Mentors: Dr. I. Randolph Daniel Jr.

Department: Department of Anthropology

Project Title: “Prehistoric Artifact Classification at Raven Rock State Park”

Timothy’s research consists of classifying approximately 2,800 prehistoric artifacts that were donated by a private collector to Raven Rock State Park in Harnett County, North Carolina. Along with guidance from his mentor, Dr. Randolph Daniel from ECU’s Department of Anthropology, he will be completing site forms and classifying these artifacts by number, variety and stone type to prepare them for public display at Raven Rock.

How did you get involved in undergraduate research?

I first found out about undergraduate research from my mentor, Dr. Daniel, and I was eager to apply for the opportunity to conduct some research in a field that I am very interested in – prehistoric archaeology. This project will provide me with some great hands-on training in archaeological lab work, further preparing me for a future career in archaeology.

Why did you choose your research topic?

I chose my topic for research because it is of particular interest to me and Raven Rock State Park contacted our department in need of assistance to take on classifying the large collection of donated artifacts. Dr. Daniel contacted me with the idea to apply for the URCA award and I was eager to give it a shot. This project provides an important opportunity to preserve a collection that tells a great deal about prehistoric societies of North Carolina, while also representing a productive collaboration between ECU and North Carolina State Parks.

What’s been your favorite part of conducting undergraduate research?

My favorite part of conducting undergraduate research so far has been meeting the people involved with making the project happen, including the private collector who donated the artifacts, the staff at Raven Rock State Park, and others involved with making the project happen. I also get to share in their enthusiasm to eventually have this amazing collection on display to the public. I have really enjoyed working on my research so far and I am learning many useful skills and a great deal of information that I can surely use in a future archaeology career.

What challenges have you faced while conducting undergraduate research?

The only challenges I have faced thus far while conducting my research have been the time consuming and tedious aspects of classifying approximately 2,800 artifacts. But, it has been truly enjoyable to say the least and looking at each artifact individually keeps things interesting and fresh. Because not one artifact is exactly like another, each piece is truly unique and interesting to study.

Why is your research important for the general public?

After my research has been completed, and the artifacts are on display to the public at Raven Rock State Park in Harnett County, the people who observe the collection will be more informed about the rich Native American heritage of North Carolina. It is important to preserve these artifacts because they are the only pieces left behind to tell the story of how people lived across our state hundreds to thousands of years ago. Displaying this collection to the public will hopefully inspire some people to realize the importance of preserving the past, and may even inspire some younger children to want to become archaeologists in the future.

What’s your ultimate goal or accomplishment that you hope your research will help you achieve?

My ultimate goal that I hope my research will help me achieve has partially already been reached. I wanted this research project to better prepare me for an archaeology job in the future, and I believe it has done so already, and continues to do so the more I work at it. The other goal I want to achieve with this project is to do justice to the collection and the private collector who donated the collection and spent many years growing this amazing collection of artifacts. I would like for the donor of the artifacts, the staff at Raven Rock, my mentor, the URCA board, and everyone involved with the project in any way to be very pleased with the outcome.

Do you have any advice for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research?

If I had any advice to give for other students interested in conducting undergraduate research it would be to choose a topic for research that you are passionate about. It is much easier to work at a research project if you are truly interested and passionate about the topic that you are pursuing. If you are, then it will be more fun in the long run, and I believe your passion will shine through in your results.