I post a lot about archaeology on here, and hopefully that’s taught somebody out there something, since rambling to myself would be a bit sad. But I recognize there might be a few of you who don’t really know what I do all day, so I thought I would take today’s Day of Archaeology to tell you.
Archaeologists have been using aerial photography for decades, looking at the ground from the air to identify crop marks and other signs of features beneath the surface. It’s worked particularly well in places like the UK, where large amounts of archaeology are now buried under farmland. Recently, though, there have been several news stories about using drones instead of planes for aerial survey. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) like drones don’t require large amounts of space to take off, they don’t use as many resources to run, and their smaller size allows them to go places you might not get to with a plane or helicopter. They also cost a LOT less.
Two weeks ago, the archaeology department went on a field trip to Kilmartin Glen in Argyll. For those who might be unaware, Argyll is on the western coast and is a lot like Rhode Island in the sense of there being a fair amount of land that is very close to water and lots of islands in close proximity to that. That’s probably about where the similarities end, though, since much of the land in Argyll is hilly/mountainous starting at or very near the coast and Scotland, as usual, is far rainier than anywhere in New England.
The past few days have been very busy indeed, and I will write a post about them soon. In the meantime, we spent most of today walking around various sites in and around Inchamhome Priory and the nearby town of Callander.
A friend of mine recently posted an article on my Facebook wall talking about the issues of relic hunting. And here’s the thing: I don’t know where I stand on the matter. I would say I dislike relic hunting the most, but I can’t sit here and say that it’s completely and utterly wrong. Looting is an even greyer area that often causes me to spend hours contemplating the motivations behind it. Many archaeologists will disagree with me on this, but I’m not so certain looting is necessarily bad. Let me explain…
Archaeology wouldn’t be able to do the vast majority of what it does without a solid foundation in stratigraphy and soil layers. Most of the relations between objects, peoples, and eras come from an understanding of these two concepts. If…
Dirt. Archaeologists primarily find dirt, dirt, and more dirt. Many people engaging in archaeology for the first time are surprised at how much dirt we move over the course of an excavation, and rightfully so. But archaeologists do find quite a few other things, and they talk a lot about what they’ve found. So what is it that we look for in archaeology, and how do we categorize our finds?
There are many things that go into excavation, many of which I will discuss in future posts. For right now, though, let’s talk about general excavations strategies.
Once we’ve found a site and have located it within a general area, we need to assess it. This means looking around the site for archaeologically relevant finds.
I’m starting a new segment that I’m hoping will detail some of the things archaeologists do and why we do them. Well, that and show off some of my pictures from various digs. The goal is to spread the word on the kind of work we do and what exactly happens at an archaeological site.