Let’s face it. Excavation is pretty boring. Hours of tedium, careful digging, and extensive notetaking with occasional glorious bursts of finds and findings (and often: nothing or very little at all). I admit that I still like the process of excavation and get enthusiastic about the prospects of discoveries that change the way we think about the local past – even when we are finding nothing.
Watching the videocast of the open meeting of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens at Athens is like watching a series of ‘highlights’ clips of a sporting event, say, basketball in March Madness (or, perhaps more accurately, like an average basketball game during regular season since the March Madness games tend to keep the attention). In these open meetings, the director offers a lecture of archaeological research in the past year both directly sponsored by the school (Corinth and Athens) and fieldwork conducted by the school’s affiliated institutions.
This year’s clip from Director James Wright gives an overview of the work of the school in 2014 and is followed by Merle Langdon’s lecture on “Rupestral Inscriptions in the Greek World”.
The bit on Corinth runs from 5:24 to 8:48 and surveys the programs of preservation and education, including plans for restoration of the Peirene Fountain and South Stoa (with discussion of the famous agonothetes / Isthmian games mosaic), excavations south of the South Stoa (which came down upon 11th century AD fills, a late antique house, and some earlier Roman levels), conservation of the Frankish city just outside of the museum, and educational programs with area schools.
Beyond Corinth, the lecture surveys recent fieldwork in the Athenian agora (near the Stoa Poikile), the Molyvoti Peninsula (in Thrace), Samothrace, Halai, Mitrou, among many others. My video crashed about the 27 minute mark yesterday so I’m not sure what lies beyond.
I figured that might get a response. A great perspective — but remember that what makes archaeology such a fascinating field is that it remains exciting even when it is dull and tedious (as I noted). You can’t take the boring out of excavation any more than you can take the fascination out of it. Both draw attention to the paradox of the process.
I don’t think that archaeology is ever boring. There are times when people are bored with it; there’s a difference.
Fair enough as lone as you are consistent and say that archaeology is never exciting. There are times when people are excited by it.
Well, I reject the idea that certain parts of archaeology — “careful doing” and “extensive notetaking” for instance — are inherently boring and other parts — finding cool stuff — are inherently exciting, yeah.
(Sorry, that should be “careful digging”)
My feeling is there’s something inherently exciting about some aspects of excavation that have little to do with the procedure. It’s the unveiling, discovery, and prospect of discovery that captures the attention of most people. That at least is what I hear again and again from students and children in the educational programs I do.