blablablarchaeology

I am a conservation student at the Institute of archaeology, currently writing.. I mean.. finishing .. yeah it’s totally nearly finished.. ..err.. my ..err.. dissertation on the reburial of England’s remains from a conservation perspective.So my day began like all good student days do: being awoken just before six, drinking three cups of coffee and setting about making a stop motion video entry for ‘day of archaeology’. Pretty early on it transpired that having never done this before and never having given it any thought didn’t pay off in the ‘wow you’re a natural’ way or even in the ‘it’s ..umm.. charming’ that I had hoped for.

Nevertheless, it distracted me from all the books for at least an hour.

The rest of my day was very similar to all my other 2011 summer days: reading, cereal, writing, reading,writing, tea, reading, reading, banana, writing, writing, writing, library, reading… etc.. however the day did end with an amazing onigiri I bought in Waterloo station and just moments before that the Mortimer Debate.

So it was a salmon onigiri and presuming it had sat in a transport hub all day it was pretty – pretty – pretty good, and the debate, yeah that was really good too and completely not overshadowed by the ensuing food. Mortimer is the new ‘campaigning mouthpiece’ for archaeology, it is aimed at anyone and everyone who cares about our past and wants to have a voice or listen to discussions or just to create a furore (I’m inferring this part). With the philosophy “Our Past, Our Future, Our Choice”, and having no political ties, the potential for debate is compelling.

The inaugural debate saw Cllr Alan Melton (recently reached the mass media by expressing a wish to disregard PPS5 whilst simultaneously referring to archaeologists as developer hindering ‘bunny huggers’), Tony Robinson (of time team fame and YAC), Andrew Richardson (Finds Manager for Canterbury and helped develop the Portable Antiquities Scheme) and Andrew Selkirk (editor in chief of Current Archaeology and a supporter of amateur archaeology). The debate was great, but then I am a fan of debate, who isn’t? It’s so nice in a really frustrating way to see people with differences hash them out in a public forum in search (under the guise?) of finding a solution. People did really seem to be trying to find ways of understanding each others opinion and appeasing each others sensibilities, which was nice.

I am so used to putting debate on to paper for the purposes of my dissertation that I may have forgotten where my opinions lie. My dissertation is a discussion on the two year reburial edict the government introduced in 2008 applying to all exhumations within England and Wales and how this will form consequences in conservation decision making. The first part of the dissertation has rightly or wrongly found itself in the throes of an abstruse philosophical debate regarding the rights of the dead, the rights afforded to the dead and the rights of the living. I have largely managed to avoid entering the mineshaft of ‘existence’ as I am ironically see-through and quite clearly couldn’t face it. So the rest harps on about the potential for conservation to involve itself in reburial. While I do not think reburial is wrong, like many I feel that it is currently being handled badly; appeasing no one and arguably causing more ethical issues than it is solving. That said I do think we should instigate a new fashion for tombs, ones powered by solar panels that maintain perfect environment control for the newly deceased, or maybe spray people like the mary rose, or freezing people..

So this is the room I spend most of my time in. I call it ‘lounge’. About eight months ago I took over the dining/only table as my desk and have been quite happy here although I do tend to get sunburnt on one side of my face – just like a real archaeologist *sigh*.