lundi 16 septembre 2013

16. Things only an archaeologist would understand

Ah this was soooo much fun! I love to revisit my field archaeology days ! I'm a physical anthropologist/archaeologist/bio-archaeologist....there are too many terms for what I do. Actually, i specialise in humain remains, I'm interested in burial practices, beliefs and in the information that human skeletons give us.

Archaeologists are definitely part of the meme culture...Lara Croft and Indiana Jones and such. So it's fun to see what kind of inside jokes/terms we have. I'll explain a few of them. As embellishments, I used some map/survey washi tape, a skull post-it, an Instax of part of my textbook collection and another 'vanitas' notecard.

1. Red-ish brown red. This references the color coding we give the different strata in the ground. There's an old guide that was written in 1905 (Munsell) that had very detailed color codes. The names of the colors are kind of a joke now.
2. Don't know what it is? Lick it. Seriously, it's the best way to differentiate between bone, pottery and stone.
3. Popsicle sticks rock. Best tool to dig up bones because they peel away the dirt without breaking the bones.
4. NOooO I've gone post-processual?!? This is a joke on all the different theoretical currents and style that exist in any human science. Processual archaeology was considered the new archaeology at one time. Theorists think that by understanding the process behind the objects that are found, they can understand the people that were behind the objects. Post-processual archaeology incorporates the archaeologist's own subjectivity into the mix and is also more diverse, sometimes even 'kooky'!
5. Latrines are awesome. Yes this is true. There is nothing more exciting for an archaeologist than finding an ancien toilet. In the past, that was where people threw out their garbage. You are garanteed to find old cuttlery and plates, probably some organic stuff for dating and also to help figure out how/what people ate. All the objects found help us to understand socio-economic status and ways of life.
6. Beer is the only thing that will get cemetery dust out of your throat. This is the truth and you will archaeologists putting this into practice. Usually at the end of each day.
7. No, I don't dig up dinosaurs / find gold teeth / look like Lara Croft / act like Indiana Jones. This is a mishmash of the silly things people ask me about what I do. As I mentionned, archaeology is very much part of the pop culture. But you should know that it is not at all what you think it is (it's even better!)
8. Please tell me again that ancient civilizations come from outerspace. This is the most annoying thing for me. That people will look at ancient iconography and try to prove various superfluous and ridiculous conspiracy theories. Like the end of the world supposedly predicted by the Maya or images of Aztec people leaving the planet in space rockets. Or that last Indiana Jones movie. Don't even mention that one to me.
This was a really fun list :)

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