Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Frustrations of Archaeology

Archaeology is always seen as an exciting adventure led by Indiana Jones or Howard Carter… An archaeologist would tell you that it is not so graceful to be in a muddy hole for days and weeks. As students in archaeology involved in the Park Safari we have already a chance to skim through the joys and the frustrations of our discipline.

the joys of bailing

No one can first bypass the conditions of an archaeological site, and explore the expression “a muddy hole”. First this hole needs to be bailed after rainy days, from which comes a bacterial pool of an indescribable colour and texture. Secondly, it stinks some other times, due to the animal fat still decomposing in it. Let’s conclude this section with the formidable suction feeling of your boots, unable to leave the waterlogged ground, as you try to gracefully get out of your hole in front of your professor.

how does this thing work again?

Another element to consider is the technical difficulties and frustrations of this science. We have previously expressed the beauty and accuracy of the total station, but who ever express how difficult it is to keep the prism (reflector on which the total in pointed) levelled!? Or how to locate this bl…dy prism when you need to take topographic points as quickly as possible? Then let’s pass to a more primal tool, the trowel. Fair enough we are only digging bones, but it seems easier to damage them than to find them with your tool. So imagine it is a Viking sword your digging, can the weight of History lies on your trowel? – well in such case you use a brush...-

A happy archaeologist

To conclude, these humoristic reflections are only the tip of the archaeological iceberg. If you think they were aimed at discouraging oneself to get involved in this discipline, you are mistaken. For as anyone of the group and most archaeologists would concur to say – although some won’t admit it publicly - that all these difficulties, complications, frustrations are at the core of their love of the discipline. A love and hate relationship on certain days perhaps, which you may not appreciate at first sight, on your first day on a site… but who knows if you may not relinquish these frustrations soon yourself.

1 comment:

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