Trying to piece together the way people once lived…

Katie Paul writes:

When excavating through layers of stone and mudbrick, plaster and limestone, it’s (somewhat) easy to determine what the building or structure that once stood may have looked like, but not as easy to tell why it was there and what it was used for.  Digging in square c6 we have come upon several features, a taboon, a silo, a fire pit, some walls… and it’s fairly easy to say the taboon was used for cooking, but not as easy to say why there are so many iron objects, flint objects, whole pots and beads all within this 5x5m square.

Trying to piece together the way people once lived seems like it wouldn’t be quite difficult to some people. When you look around your home it seems obvious what can be considered a kitchen, a bedroom, even a wood shop in the back shed.  But is it really that easy?  When attempting to get people to understand archaeology you have to place yourself 1000 years in the future looking at the remains of what were once our lives and ask yourself if putting the pieces together is really that simple.

After finishing my first year of graduate school it took a good old fashioned college party with my sister to really grasp how difficult it would be for archaeologists of the future to put together what life is like for us.  I was attending a music fest with her at Ohio University, it took place in a farmer’s field and by the end of a muddy day was strewn with a shining layer crushed and mangled beer cans, orphaned and lost flip-flops and plastic pols and fragments of what used to be folding chairs.  Amidst all of the chaos around me, the archaeologist in me set in and I thought to myself, “what would archaeologists think 1000 years from now if they excavated this field and found only beer cans, mismatched shoes and plastic sherds?” What would they gather from the inscriptions of ‘Natural Light’ and ‘Budweiser king of beers?’ Would they think that there were cultic practices to “king Budweiser” here? Understanding where people lived is not as easy as understanding how, and it’s these types of questions that seem so simple that have proven some of the hardest to answer thus far…. but maybe in another week the answers will reveal themselves.

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3 Responses to “Trying to piece together the way people once lived…”

  1. Kate always thinking like an archaeologist, love it, keep writing.

  2. How proud you make us! Keep on digging. (Although the OU thing might have been a little bit TMI as, I remember my Katie and Kristen slathered in bubbles in Goomie’s jacuzzi). Everyone grows up and leaves bits and pieces behind to those who love them and to those who never had the pleasure of being in their presence. Stay safe! Hugs – Ruth

  3. Steve Fulmer Says:

    Katie, I wish you knew how proud I am of you. You go girl!! And as far as the music fest, not TMI but kids growing up. Remember Woodstock back in 1969? I better be quiet, I’m starting tp age myself. Anyhow, take care of yourself, and remember how much you are loved…..Steve

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