The Kitchen Table Theory

It’s not my table, but you get the idea. Photo: Guy Hunt.


My Day of Archaeology began early, over tea and toast at my kitchen table. Having another archaeologist as a house guest has been a great excuse for extended breakfast table discussions on the meaning of (archaeological) life, the universe and everything. I have this pet theory that some of our best and most productive work takes place around the kitchen table, sometimes that might be in the form of a heated debate or at other times, after wiping down the breadcrumbs and spreading out a map or a matrix diagram, it might be in the form of analysis and writing.

Cutting to the business end of this blog entry: what did I do today on this Day of Archaeology? Emails responded, check. Reports printed and sent out to the Local Planning Authority, check. Discussion with other partners about the current state of our projects, check. Clients chased up for payment, check (but no cheque).

I wanted to be honest and write this blog about my actual day today. I didn’t want to dress it up too much and make out that everyday is an endless series of incredible discoveries and eureka moments. Sometimes, the less than glamorous truth is that this job is actually just a job. Running a small archaeology business requires a lot of patience. For every project I do that results in a great find or a fantastic publication, there are countless hours spent organising, negotiating, networking, politicking and generally administering things.

So, although in a way this was “just another day at the office”, it was much more than that, it was a series of tiny steps leading toward the next joyful piece of fieldwork, it was a day of trying to put all of my ongoing projects into the same forward direction.

I have got a really exciting fieldwork project programmed in for August, when hopefully we will be digging test pits into part of London’s city ditch. At the moment the project is in that tricky stage of getting everything set up and ready to go. I need to get my Written Scheme of Investigation into this evening’s post (with a little bit of help from one of my lovely partners) and we need to get staff sorted out and programmed in, we need to get all our logistics in place as well as our health and safety assessments and 101 other vital details. There is also some all important day dreaming to be done about how great this project is going to be and what different technologies (such as ARK) that we can trial on the project.

Hopefully, if I can get through all that, this afternoon I can also get a few more of these small steps done on that fieldwork write up project that has been on my conscience since January.

To all of the other archaeologists in the libraries, archaeology offices, laboratories, site huts and kitchen tables of the world, I salute you.


Guy Hunt is a Partner in L – P : Archaeology a UK based commercial archaeology (CRM) company. Guy also has some archaeology photos on his flickr.