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Talking point
Is archaeology now full of so called know it all's? I was talking to a very old archaeologist and it seem that only a few of us younger people do care about the archaeology and put forward our own thoughts, only to be cast aside by some ignorant high flyer degree person. Earlier last year I said that a layout of a site from the air looks like farming practise only to be inform that it was this person project and he will decide what it is. What? After all it is only my personal thoughts and view.

The old time archaeologist the men and ladies I look up to are starting to retire and we loose so much knowledge from these people. Now we are left with the Time Team know it all the pen pushers in life. Fact that our subject is no longer a vocation, attracting people who are insatiably curious and determined to discover about archaeology and put forward new ideas and thoughts.Instead, it has attracted a mass of prats with careers to advance, very few principles, fewer original ideas, but ruthless determination to scramble to the top of the pile, whatever the cost. The older generation like Hoskins and Beresford who gave so much heart felt passion to archaeology has this all now gone?

Archaeology can only be damage by know alls and wannabe's. That is my view
Sounds on the face of it like a pretty arrogant response from the person you spoke to, but not one that implies a lack of care for, or curiosity about, the archaeology.

Personally, I've been knocking around the profession for some time (getting on for 27 years since my first dig), and I do have a degree in archaeology - but I still love to discuss the archaeology and its interpretation with whoever wants to talk about it. I find that applies to most people I come across, of whatever generation.

I think archaeology is as much a vocation as it ever was (after all, think of the number of more lucrative career options that people could have chosen instead). However, even dedicated people with a vocation still have careers, ambitions and mortgages. That has always been the case - nothing's new in the world.


to let, fully furnished
That sounds like me Wink must be an old archaeologist.

I still have passion and care deeply as well.. I have however noticed that many people don't discuss whats going on... I go onto sites and find diggers who neither know nor care what they are digging.

Now... why is that? many went ot Uni... they are working in archaeology... so whats going on?

My humble opinion is we don't spend the time on what we do... perhaps if 'we' took more time to think about what we are doing...

ie... one site had only rig and furrow and a few drainage channels... I tried to get people thinking about why the Rig and Furrow... what did it mean.. where was the boundary, what did it relate to... what about the drainage channels... when did they come in.. what did that show about farming practice.. what did it mean about society? Why did they need drainage ? Did the Rig and Furrow deal with the drainage problems before... etc etc....

A simple example... but I do think we have to get more involved... A number of senior archaeologists I know are desparate to get involved in some community digs.. just to meet people who are enthusiastic...

How do other people feel... or if you don't feel... why?

Lets have a poll...

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."
Return to the sixties and 70s vocational unpaid unqualified archaeologists except for a few. No thanks.If you think archaeology is competative and cut throat now you should have tried it in the early eighties.

It was said
"Instead, it has attracted a mass of prats with careers to advance"

I see nothing wrong with archaeologists being paid, having mortgages going on foreign holidays in fact being like all members of society.

Werent Hoskins and Beresford historical geographers?


I agree there are a lot of people coming into archaeology that are know it alls and prats, but there are also some old timers and mid timers that are know it all prats...but also there are good people coming into archaeology as well as leaving it, I have met very few archaeologists that I think fall into the category of prats and know it all. But I do agree the loss of 'old timers' is a worry, we are loosing their valueable experience.

There are always people trying to get to the top of pile but arnt we all, none of us want to stay in the same position forever.

But you will always get people that are prats and know it alls, so as long as we have good people as well all will be well.

May god go with you in all the dark places you must walk.
Hey thanks for all your responses. I have to say this as I knew how I felt about archaeology as I love it and will go on doing so.Weren't Hoskins and Beresford historical geographers? Yes. I would like to also point out that such people like those I mention give archaeology a boost in understanding. Take Hoskins great passion for landscape archaeology (history or whatever you like to call it) and started many of landscape archaeologist looking at the field patterns. Beresford dedicated his work on DMV's and help in some of our understanding of how people lived and worked.

No problem with getting paid and as for the 1970 and 60's at least some of them had a brain. I work and also in my spare time do unpaid work as well are you as dedicated? Totally agree with 1 man desk, BAJAR Host and would like to say Orkynowot you have made a good talking point "There are always people trying to get to the top of pile but aren't we all, none of us want to stay in the same position forever"
It a good forum in getting feedback. Thanks
The reason why older archaeologists tend to be more dedicated is that less dedicated archaeologists tend to leave the profession.
Nothing new under the sun, as Dr P points out.

This poem (written in the thirties I believe) was once quoted on Britarch. I have forgotten the name of the guilty subject or the site:
"There was an old fool, as a feeler,
Who nervously said to me, 'Keeler,
Must we write up the lot,
Of the stuff that we've got?
Let's take it all down to a dealer."

(Apologies if I've mis-recollected.)

'In the busy market there are fortunes to be won and lost, but in the cherry orchard there is peace'.
Chinese proverb
Big GrinBig GrinBig GrinBig Grin

how true how true.....

now some say that to detectorists! ... perhaps a guilty memory? Big Grin

"No job worth doing was ever done on time or under budget.."
The good old boys were fine and made some valid contributions, but Young Turks can also contribute. For instance, Hoskins would have us believe that the English Midlands was barely visited by people in prehistory. Recent fieldwork has opened our eyes to the wealth of prehistoric settlement evidence that was hiding under the ridge and furrow.
Perhaps this is a sign that archaeology has joined the Real World! All other trades and professions, every walk of life and every field of human endeavour has its fair share of know-it-alls and prats.

This could therefore be seen as a Good Thing!Big Grin

PS I may be a prat but I don't know anything.

We owe the dead nothing but the truth.

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