Friday, October 15, 2010

Archaeology and POV

Tami asked earlier about some of my archaeology stuff, so I thought I'd elaborate a little.

1 - The actual fieldwork

I'm helping a Cornell grad student out for a month on a site close to my campus. She's looking for evidence of a Tuscarora settlement and some later, Euro-American stuff. So it's a lot of pottery and pieces of rock chipped off in the process of tool making.

2 - Project

My personal, senior capstone project isn't exactly archaeology, but it's closely tied. I'm writing historical fiction based on a Neolithic grave yard (about 3500 to 4000 BC). You look at what's there and what people know and fill in the interesting blanks, basically.

I wonder, sometimes, what it is about archaeology that appeals to me, and I've come to the conclusion that it's the stories inherent in it. I love piecing things together from bits and pieces and archaeology is nothing but pits and pieces, and their meaning is open to interpretation, so 10 different people would get 10 different stories and I adore multiple view points.

Archaeology also often gives you a window into the lives of the lost and forgotten - people who history has overlooked or silenced. It's nice to give them a voice. These Neolithic people, for example, had highly sophisticated metallurgy and the beginnings of a complex social hierarchy, but few people know about them.

My affection for multiple or alternative points of view that is what makes me eat up Gregory Maguire's stuff, even if I think he's a little heavy handed with the darkness. I like seeing things from new points of view.

Thoughts? Pick up any good alternate points of view recently?


  1. Hey Bridge--very cool! I love your capstone project! Have you ever read any of James Michener's 'place' books? They are actually VERY similar to this--in fact 'The Source' (my favorite of them) very literally is this. He takes a place in (Egypt?)-- an ancient city built up around a water source, and he tells the story both forward and backward (because the lives of course, went forward through time, but the archeologists are discovering it backward)

    I think that would be an excellent way for you to use your various interests.

    Loved Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, too--not sure why I haven't picked up more of his, but that one I've read and I really liked it.

  2. That picture is fascinating! Can you tell us more about it? Where it was taken, the approximate date?

    I worked on a archaeological project for my Masters too - on the mapping of sites. Sounds like you might be in NY - I did my work on the Seneca Indian Reservation south of Buffalo.

  3. Tami - Thanks! My dad actually just gave me The Source, but I haven't read it yet. Apparently I really need to. Confessions was definitely my favorite of his, though I like the Snow White one, too. Wicked was actually perhaps my least favorite, love the musical, though, which has almost nothing to do with the musical...

    Margo - It's from the Varna cemetery in Bulgaria and dates to about 4400 BC, depending on who you ask. Cool masters! What are you doing now, if you don't mind my asking? And, yeah, I'm in New York (cool you recognize that), south of Rochester. I have a professor who's done a lot of work with the Seneca of that reservation... Russell Judkins sound familiar?


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