Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Romance of Digging In the Dirt

It recently came to my attention that there is a small archaeological dig going on at the Royal Bull's Head Inn in Toowoomba. I thought this was cool because 1. I'm from there and anything to do with archaeology is rare in those parts 2. I remembered visiting there on a school excursion when I was a kid and 3. It is being run by two of my old Uni lecturers.

I haven't had a chance to visit yet, and knowing my luck by the time I manage to get up there the dig will be over, but still I'd be interested in the findings, because it's one of the oldest (if not the oldest) building in the city. So old it would have been standing when my German ancestors emigrated to the Darling Downs.

Anyway, of course then I got reminiscing about my uni days. I was a student of Anthropology at USQ for 4 whole years and never did any practical archaeology. I always admired the work of those who did, but one visit to the lithics lab was enough to put me off for life. I thought that stone technology, both the digging up of and study of, was intensely boring. Of course there is other stuff to dig up - more interesting things like gold and bones - but these are rare. Even my lecturer's dig at the time, in a cliff cave on an island in the Whitsundays, didn't yield anything much more interesting than shells and bone fish hooks.

I'm sure most archaeologists would beg to differ with me on that last point - as it's often not the items themselves that are exciting, but the interpretation of them and how they can contribute to our knowledge of human culture.

But me, I don't even garden. I now know I'd rather read about digs and their findings than actually participate. You've got to be passionate to do that stuff out in the hot sun, or wind and rain. If you've ever watched Time Team, you probably realise how frustrating and fruitless archaeology can be.

But as long as amazing things turn up occasionally, I guess we'll keep digging in the dirt. Who knows, maybe I will give it a go one day.

Archaeology, do you dig it?

 Dr Lara Lamb is blogging about the Royal Bull's Head Inn dig here. Or visit their Facebook here.

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