Sunday, August 21, 2011

What, I Thought this Blog was About Archaeology?

It has occurred to me recently that I have not written about archaeology in a long time. People might visit to this blog and say to themselves, "she says she is an archaeologist, but she offers little evidence to support this claim. Mostly she seems to eat and spout nonsensical philosophy."

That is, if anyone actually visits this blog.

I was just a baby archaeologist in this picture (taken 6 years ago) not much has changed since then. I even still wear that vest. Maybe I am smarter?

I have actually been doing a lot of archaeology lately, one might say I spend roughly 40 hours a week "doing" archaeology in some fashion. Actually, it is probably more than that 'cause I often read about archaeology in my spare time. I went to Charleston and looked for people in a cemetery using GPR (see this post for an explanation of that GPR stuff). I have been writing a bunch of reports and making some pretty maps. I am good at making maps, it is kind of one of my things.

The problem with an archaeology blog is that we archaeologists are kind of a secretive bunch. We are also not that trusting. I do not trust the people of the great internet world to not use my work for evil.

What is evil you ask? I will make a list:

1.) Looting. Looting is very evil and a huge problem. Not just a huge problem for people in far away places and at famous sites. It is a huge problem in places like central Tennessee. Back in the day (I mean about 1,000 year ago), people were often buried with prestige items such as jewelry and ceramics. These are apparently valuable for resale. Just look on ebay, it is sickening. Bearing in mind, that many of those things for sale on ebay involved the destruction of a grave, that was somebody's great, great, great, great, great-grandparent. Looting is happening in your backyard. Looters are organized, they are contributing to an unethical global trade in antiquities, and they use legitimate archaeological work to help them achieve their ends. My secrecy is in part to avoid inadvertently helping looters.

That pile of rocks in the foreground is a huge site in southeastern Utah.

2.) Client confidentiality. The people who hire us are often private corporations. Sometimes they are planning projects that are not public knowledge. We are often one of the first consultants on the site. I would not want to distribute knowledge about a project before it is made public by the people who pay the people who pay my bills. Insider trading is bad, just ask Martha Stewart.

3.) Intellectual property. Often I am doing work for someone else's research. They pay me. They get first dibs on publication. End of story.

Secretive bunch, like spies, only without guns or spying.

Just doing my part to fit in with the locals (note the 10 gallon hat).

Technically, some information about archaeological sites are excluded from freedom of information act requests because they are sensitive. Looting is bad.

We also cook a bunch and I like to write about that, because food is..... well, delicious. I also have no ethical qualms talking about making BLTs.

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