Saturday, October 22, 2011

Let's Get Archaeological

Archaeology asks
Who built it?
When?
Why?
What does it teach us about them? About ourselves?
Should we preserve it?
Can we?
How?

Can you think of other questions archaeology asks, and answers?

Today is the first ever National Archaeology Day, a celebration of archaeology and the thrill of discovery. The closest event to us is in Pacific Palisades, but you can participate in an online scavenger hunt or just snoop around the website of the Archaeological Institute of America and see what you think.

If you don't think there's archaeology in Pasadena, all you have to do is get off the beaten path in the Arroyo. You'll find old stone walls, hidden stairways and even the remains of an amphitheater. Forget snooping around the virtual world. You can snoop around the real one.

15 comments:

Dina said...

What a great illustration to prove your point. Happy first National Archaeology Day!

Julie said...

I often wonder what people of the future will be saying about today's structures, particularly buildings and monuments in places like DC (assuming the world has another few thousand years left in it).

New Mexico has a lot of Native American ruins that I would love to visit one day. I'll eventually have to set aside a weekend for that.

Have a great National Archaeology Day!

Speedway said...

Here's another archeological quest from comparatively recent times - 1856. The story of the sinking of the steamboat Arabia and the eventual location of her remains in a cornfield.

http://steamboats.com/museum/arabia.html

And her museum in Kansas City -
www.1856.com

Petrea Burchard said...

Great stuff! Archaeology can be very old (Julie's example) or very recent (I read an article in Archaeology magazine about tracing the trails of illegals crossing the Mexican border). I love it all, I do.

Dina, you know what I'm talking about. Dina works on digs in Israel and often talks about her fascinating discoveries on her blog.

Petrea Burchard said...

And Julie, I often wonder the same thing--especially of a particularly boring of ugly building. What will they think? (If it doesn't disintegrate into nothing, that is.)

Bellis said...

I love archaeology. But it's much more interesting in Europe than California, of course. Where else would you find a 6,000 year old spearhead in an English field? Or Etruscan pottery fragments in Tuscany? Now I have to content myself with more recent finds, but they can be exciting as well. The top of Echo mountain has bits of molten glass and pottery from a hotel fire in the 1930s, and who'd have thought the 1913 La Loma bridge in the photo was made of rubble and mortar?

dive said...

Many thanks to Bellis for identifying the bridge. Boy howdy, as an architect I'd have thrown the concrete mixers off site. I'm amazed the thing is still standing, though it's not going to be for much longer with aggregate like that in it. Concrete can be beautiful (really) and long lasting (look at the Roman stuff still standing), but whoever built La Loma bridge saved (made) an awful lot of money by building cheap and nasty. Petrea, if you don't mind I'm going to show that photo round at the office on Monday and count the swearwords.
Oh, and by the way, hoorah for archæology! I'll be out at the local Roman dig sometime this winter with my camera and I'll post the results.

Petrea Burchard said...

Don't you worry, Dive, this bridge is slated to be rebuilt and refurbished soon. It's really very pretty, but you're not the first person to point out the problem and, just to top that off, it turns out it spans a fault line.

Steven said...

Now there is someting that I could sink my teeth into. This is a great idea and one only has to go to one's backyard to search. Even I have found what looks to be an ancient hammer-like stone object on my property.

Petrea Burchard said...

That sounds interesting, Steven. Have it checked out! Let us know what you find out.

Ms M said...

Archaeology is fascinating stuff! I've visited Anasazi ruins in New Mexico. I also recently read a book about early women archaeologists: "Ladies of the Field: Early women archaeologists and their search for adventure" by Amanda Adams.

Petrea Burchard said...

That sounds like my kind of book, Ms. M. Thanks for the suggestion.

Irina said...

Archeology is illusion. (I hope Dina does not hear). We find, we make our conclusions, we keep rarities, but we never make lessons from the past. And ignorance wins so often.

Petrea Burchard said...

Irina, just this morning I read a brief story about Vladimir Putin "discovering" ancient amphorae on a recent dive. It seemed a contrived discovery, the type of thing politicians do all over the world. Perhaps with each discovery we take three steps forward and two steps back. Progress could be so much faster if humanity were an honest race. But if some of us are honest it's progress, nonetheless.

Dina said...

What Irina says is all too often true.