Wednesday, 1 June 2011

One day like this

The dig has started...

…well OK I'm not physically digging anything at the moment (and yes thank you Mr. pedantic I'm obviously typing at this precise moment in time and space) but as far as my situation is presently going, it's more that I'm generally standing in front of a mechanical excavator and two dumper trucks as they surgically remove ploughsoil (at a somewhat alarming rate) revealing long buried archaeological deposits (but hey, who's quibbling?). After another year stuck indoors immersed in lengthy, bureaucratic paper-chases, alleviated only by the occasional bit of teaching / research / discussion with students (or what I like to call ‘proper’ work) and being at home with my family (essential 'downtime'), being on site as opposed to the office is a major breath of fresh air.

A really big dose of fresh Dorset straight-from-the-English-Channel-via-several-fields-full-of-cows air (and without any aeroplane / car / train / human voice to break the silence – well, once the JCB engine has been switched off and the driver has gone home). Just me, a few pheasants, an odd hare (a very odd hare if I’m really honest) and the detritus of four millennia.

This is what archaeology is all about.

Next week, close to 200 students, staff and volunteers will also descend upon the site and that's when the fun really begins...a whole month of uncertainty, discovery and general earth-moveray...I seriously cannot wait. As I stand (or stood) looking out at all the new archaeology emerging, I can't (or couldn't) help but recall what seems to be the perfect Radio 2 song (and which is no doubt voted for in droves by listeners) by the anatomically-specific 'Elbow': "one day like this a year would see me right".

Let the therapy commence.

Archaeo-pedantry no. 24

Someone made the claim (on a TV programme about satellite imagery and Egyptology on BBC 1 last night) that 'Lost Tombs are the Holy Grail of Archaeology' - surely, and without sounding too pedantic about this (always tricky I know), the Holy Grail is the Holy Grail of archaeology......

.....or am I missing something?