journal, university

Kindness of others; Detective work

“You will never meet a close-minded archaeologist.”

Unknown

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I should have made a note of where I heard or read this in the past week – it was mentioned, and got stuck in my head.

The people running the Archaeology department are some of the kindest teaching staff I’ve ever met. Whenever a student made a mistake and said sorry, more than once I heard, “No! Don’t apologise! You are learning!” And all of them are so nice that I just want to buy all of them weeks’ worth of beers, although you are not supposed to drink on archaeological field trips.*

April’s field school did indeed support the idea that archaeologists are very open as people**. It has been both refreshing and comforting. My experience of teachers throughout uni has now officially been the full range of let’s-belittle-students-until-they-cry (this was elsewhere), to the above.

Bless good folk!

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These are a handful more other things we did at field school:

Pedestrian Surveying is literally walking in a row with your team mates, and scanning the ground for man-made objects with your eyes.

• We sieved through buckets and buckets and buckets of dirt, clay, and rocks, and every time we found even a tiny item of interest, they went into bright containers labelled Metal, Glass, Ceramic and Other. This bit was hard work…

Here is an old bone from an ovine (sorry, fellow vegos). Turns out the land in O’Halloran’s estate was often used for cropping and farming. A morbidly fascinated part of me wondered if there would be any forensic archaeology of 90-year-old crime at this field school, but no, it was just sheep.

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These trays got taken to the Artefact Processing station, where absolutely hundreds of tiny bits of human-made objects were catalogued into Excel Spreadsheets, and we practiced being magpie-accountant hybrids.

I saw first-hand how a lot of detective work goes in to analysing little bits of items that are found.

Good times!

One more interesting idea that I came across while doing assignments is that police, forensic scientists and archaeologists all seek to reconstruct human actions by looking at things and/or bodies left behind – the time periods are generally thought of as different, but the principles are the same. This was mentioned in a paper by Dr Soren Blau.

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How is your week? Do you think the things around your house reveal some telling things? What has your experience with teachers been like?


Photos: all mine.

*For safety reasons, as levels of sobriety and the incidence of falling into trenches are inversely related, probably.

**I realised, paradoxically, a truly open archaeologist may be open to the idea of there being a close-minded archaeologist.

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