Professor Eric Cline encouraged a sold-out crowd in the Marvin Center Amphitheatre to follow their passions – regardless of the consequences – last Thursday night.
“Do what you love, love what you do, but be aware it means taking a chance,” he advised the filled-to-capacity, mostly student audience.
His presentation kicked off this year’s “Last Lecture” series, which the University started after a terminally ill Carnegie Mellon professor gave a now-famous final lecture where he answered the question, “If you knew this was the last lecture you would ever give to an audience, what would you say?”
In the lecture, Cline explained that when he followed his passion and became an archaeologist, it took a long time for him to experience success.
“You just might end up eating rice and beans in your parents’ basement, and don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he said.
Using a slideshow presentation filled with family photographs, Cline told his audience that two of his passions were his family and digging. His parents and siblings supported his interests and accompanied him on his digs – sometimes paying him surprise visits on digs.
“I was in Cyprus and somebody said to me, ‘Dude, these old people are looking for you.’ So I said, ‘Uh-oh does she have red hair?'” Cline said.
Cline said his passions also include research and writing. His first “aha!” moment occurred when he discovered evidence of trade that occurred in the Late Bronze Age, he said.
“I wish to you many ‘aha!’ moments. They are absolutely wonderful, but they are few and far between, so treasure them when you’ve got them,” he said.
Cline has written several books for scholars and children and has appeared on numerous television shows but said he still has many goals for the future, including “taking back archaeology from the crackpots and amateurs.”
Cline explained that in the last ten years, major discoveries, like Noah’s ark and the Garden of Eden, have been made.
“The problem is the guys who have found them. There is one guy who was a former SWAT team member,” he said. “The public doesn’t know who or what to believe and we’ve got to take back our field.”
Writing the lecture, Cline said, made him realize he is very proud of his accomplishments and is satisfied with the life he leads.
“If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I will go out smiling,” he said.
Hannah Ringheim, a sophomore who attended Cline’s lecture, accompanied him on a dig this summer which she said changed her outlook on her future.
“I had been thinking about majoring in archaeology, but it’s a lot of hard work and it’s hard to make money in the field. Professor Cline’s lecture made me realize that I should just go for what I’m passionate about,” Ringheim said.