Thursday, 5 May 2016

The 'curse' of archaeology

Emerging bleary-eyed from 12 months hard labour in the academic equivalent of the subterranean mines of Pankot Palace, I hungrily grabbed at the nearest newspaper to find out what has changed in the archaeological world....

...very little as it seems.

In fact the lead archaeo-news story still seems to be about a long deceased Medieval monarch.

It appears that this weekend, despite being officially dead for over half a millennium, King Richard III won two major sporting trophies.

In what CNN described as "the fairytale that has gripped the world", Leicester City (Football Club) has won the Premiership trophy. Now, as long term readers of this blog (both of you) will know, my love of football is not quite as great as my love of the Peruvian nose-flute. As a consequence, I find it hard to gauge whether or not this is a big story (although apparently it is a classic example of 'David beating Goliath' - or something). What strikes me as particularly bizarre, however, is the role played by the last Plantagenet king in all this.   

BBC sport pundit Mike Bushell felt the need to provide his own possible explanation on Breakfast:

"what's behind this amazing transformation from relegation candidates to champions elect?" he pondered. "Is it the manager?; The previous manager?; The players and their togetherness?; The owners and their five year plan?; Or could it be written in history thanks to the influence of this chap, the former King Richard III whose re interment in Leicester came just before the upturn in the club's fortune?"

Well I'm not sure Mike but, considering that you're standing outside Leicester's very own King Richard Experience, I suspect you're leaning towards the latter theory.

Certainly a (not previously selected) group of Leicester City fans confirmed that in their opinion it wasn't the manager / team combo that won the trophy as "it's all down to the big famous King Richard"

So, there you go, it must be true.

Further confirmation, if it were needed, was provided by the Guardian, Mirror, Mail, Times and Telegraph papers in the UK whilst in the States CNN observed that just as Leicester City came top of the Premiership, York City, who lost out in the legal battle surrounding who had the right to bury Richard III, "was relegated from the lowest division of professional English football in 92nd, and last, place".


Er.....hang on, don't tell me....I know this....erm

In a surprise, though (apparently) no less dramatic footnote, Leicester snooker player Mark Selby won the Snooker World Championship ON THE SAME DAY.....!

Unsurprisingly, just as with the Football title, Richard was duly thanked. Well quite, after all, who could not forget the rousing speeches, immortalised in the writing of Shakespeare, that Richard III gave in support of UK Sport, the games of snooker that came before the battle of Bosworth and the celebratory footie match that followed Henry Tudor's victory.

Well, me for one.

Nice though, to see archaeology at the forefront of world attention, albeit it a rather unusual way. Also intriguing to see that, just for once, the exhumation of a Royal body has not been met with the usual fanfare of curses, plagues and other ghastly goings-on. This is, of course, far from the default setting of archaeology. From Tutankhamun to Scooby Doo, Doctor Who to Lara Croft, the discovery of a Royal burial is almost always met with destruction, death and general unpleasantness on a large scale (especially for the excavators). This time it appears that the archaeological team have not unleashed a bandage-swathed curse upon the world, and for that, I am eternally grateful.. indeed, I suspect, are the good people of Leicester.

No comments:

Post a Comment