BAJR Federation Archaeology
Archaeologists are abysmal caretakers of archaeology - Printable Version

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Archaeologists are abysmal caretakers of archaeology - BAJR - 30th December 2012

Archaeologists have been, and still are, abysmal caretakers of the archaeological record.

Quote:Now, I come at this from several angles, both personal experience and observations over many years. But first, I’ll go through my work this season and examine how that shaped what I typed above. Looking back to these two previous posts, what we find is that the Roman bath I cleared away has undergone extensive deterioration since archaeologists uncovered it almost 40 years ago. In less than 40 years it’s probably deteriorated more than it did in the 1500 years previous. That is really quite frightening. Now, one might be tempted to put the blame elsewhere: officials who don’t “do enough” to protect the structure, careless tourists who damage it while visiting, etc.

True enough, although the simple fact of it being exposed to the elements (cultural and natural) is the basal reason why it has been subject to such forces in the first place. And it was archaeologists who exposed it in the first place. It was archaeologists who located it, cleared away its protective sand cover, let everyone know about it, and then left it to fend for itself. On top of that, it wasn’t very extensively published — in fact, much of the work done by that entire project wasn’t published at all. How much information was lost simply because the archaeologists involved simply had to dig up a bunch of cool stuff?

This decent sized article/post
is well worth reading and thinking about/

Quote:Again, I’m reminded of a television special that aired some years ago. But there it was, a body that had been preserved for around 4,000 years completely lost (crumbled to dust) — because an ivy-league PhD [Hawass]and a television network[Nat geo] felt like uncovering cool stuff.

As in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “Ask yourself, why do you seek the Cup of Christ? Is it for His glory. . .or for yours?”

so are we that bad/ do we enjoy the finding better than the fiddly next bit? :face-thinks:

Archaeologists are abysmal caretakers of archaeology - pdurdin - 30th December 2012

Very cynical article. His bit about "why we do this" in particular.

Of course people like finding stuff better than recording/preserving it. But so long as the latter is done to the best of our ability (and provision for that is managed before any finding is done!), why shouldn't we do the former if we're learning as a result?

And just because a site is unexcavated doesn't mean it'll survive equally well now as it has the past hundreds/thousands of years. I think his ideas on technology are a little far-fetched, too.

Re: the mummy, how much information can actually be obtained from a completely dessicated corpse inside a (presumably) stone sarcophagus?

There's another Roman bath house closer to home which is also decaying without proper preservation: Beauport Park.