Friday, November 02, 2007

I have to discuss something that completely awes and slightly frightens me. Sometimes, for silly and completely non-important reasons, archaeologists like to trace and identity artifacts. And while it might be a bit hard for prehistoric archaeologists to find a maker mark on an obsidian flake and reference it in an all-encompassing world encyclopedia of “Flakes and their Makers” (though I know there are plenty of ways to source and use the information for… ok I’m deviating), historical archaeologists have a very unique relationship with people who like to collect the “antiques” that are sometimes the trash that was discarded at a site. These collectors, historians, experts, or archaeologists will publish books to reference marks, style, function and form to trace, date, or even just see what that plate looked like whole. I’m on this tangent because last week Kim showed me a fragment of a plate recovered from the Gage house that she traced to a picture in a book. This was basically the most exciting thing I’d seen in quite some time (ok, yes, I haven’t been to the movies lately), but mostly because this was evidence for the investigatory research that you read about and never quite connect that someone actually did the work to discover it. This is really impressive once you start to think about the number of books available and the various things that come out of the ground and into an archaeologist’s curious hands. This personally made me realize that though Kim is not solving a homicide and there will likely never be a Law and Order: Household Archaeology, the painstaking research and inquiry into the contexts of the objects involves the same skills and talents that are exploited on your television right now. So next time you see an archaeologist, let them know you appreciate the work they do for us.

Jessica Merizan


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