Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | October 23, 2013 | Circulation: 280,000+
At the tender age of 20, Vancouver archeology student Matthew Go has already discovered a 1,200-year-old priestess tomb, excavated roughly 30 skeletons, and hopes to one day help bring closure for victims of international mass killings.
In July, the Simon Fraser University student was the only Canadian on the nine-member team that uncovered the Moche tomb in Peru.
The ancient civilization had women in their religious elite, but Go’s focus for his honours thesis is on a familiar problem in today’s workforce — neck and back pain.
“What activities they were doing that would favour severity in neck than other regions?” he asked with a laugh. “They weren’t hunched over doing desk work.”
He said he felt “very privileged” to be part of the discovery, especially a rare one that made international headlines.
“What I enjoy most is being able to reconstruct a person’s life,” he said. “Even though I’m not physically communicating or interacting with the person, I can tell their story. That to me is the most exciting part of archeology. It also has the most responsibility … Archeologists are responsible to be truthful to the evidence.”
His dream is to one day work in forensic anthropology – such as excavating mass graves stemming from human rights abuses.
Was his childhood hero Indiana Jones? Go admits he never watched the films as a kid – but was interested in anatomy. His parents hoped he’d study medicine.
“Passion is key to finding happiness in life,” Go said. “You shouldn’t just go with the easiest choice or what other people want you to do.