Exploring Archaeology with the Video Storyteller

“You are an archaeologist, I mean, you dig dinosaurs?!”
“What are you saying? Archaeologists dig for the truth…”
“Dear friends, listen to me! Archaeologists dig very important sites, study pottery and write very boring scientific publication for reconstructing the life of the past. This is archaeology!”
“But it’s not all. Archaeology is pointless if you don’t tell it to people. To involve people in the telling of archaeology via video, that’s the way I like archaeology!”
“Telling stories via video? I’m not sure you are an archaeologist!”

No doubts, I am an archaeologist. I have a degree in archaeology and I tell entertaining stories of archaeology using video. This is also my “Day of archaeology”.
There are many specializations in contemporary archaeology: the landscape archaeologist, the geoarchaeologist, the osteoarchaeologist, the GIS and the 3D expert etc. I am a video storyteller of archaeology!

I don’t think I don’t do archaeology. I dig with my other colleagues, I use trowel and pickaxe, I fulfil my sheets and write my diary. But my scope is to communicate what I dig and the way I like most is recording videos. Why recording videos?
Video is a way of telling but also the scope, the final product. Almost everyone like to take part in a video, everyone like to see themselves in a video and to say to friends: “Hey, have you seen me in that video?”. Last but not least, YouTube is one of the most popular search engine on the Web and when you publish your video on YouTube everyone can see it.
Video is also the medium that narrates stories in the best way because it puts together images and sounds. And every archaeologist knows that a site is an infinite container of stories. We have all the ingredients for a good recipe!

Film making a Vignale 2

I ask constantly myself if I can record a story about what I’m digging and in which way I can tell it. There are countless ways to do it: free you creativity and choose the one you think better for your necessity. You can let archaeologists talk about the site or write and record a story set in the past. You can make a time-lapse video or tell a day at the excavation. What about a point of view of a child or the memories of an old man?
The first step is one of the most difficult: if you aren’t a field director you need an approval for recording your footage; secondly you need the availability of the archaeologists for taking part in the video. Usually archaeologists like to stay in front of the camera. After some shooting they will be confident and involved in what they are doing. Have a look at this video recorded in Vignale and presented at TAG 2012 in Liverpool. Its title is “Last days of fieldwork in room 14” and tell what have been dug in this area of the site through words, photos, time-lapses and diaries. The point is that also excavation can be told in a entertaining way using the right media.

One of the aspect I like more of narrating archaeology via camera is that video is not only a visual medium but also an involving one. It can involve common people to take part in the narration of an archaeological site. At Vignale (Tuscany), a Roman mansio excavated by the University of Siena, in October 2013 children help archaeologists in denounce the activity of looters in the site with a brief video, entitled “Giù le mani dalla nostra storia” (Hands off our history). In agree with archaeologists, they wrote a screenplay and got to the site to record this footage. They had a strong relationship with Vignale and recording this video they had the possibility of doing battle for the site.

After this brief venture in the world of the video storyteller of archaeology, I would like to have a good screenplay with an archaeo-story and record it. Unfortunately, as in 2013, July isn’t a period of film making, so my “Day of Archaeology” is a static day of study. Anyway I’m sure I’ll see many videos embedded in other posts. I’ll enjoy them and the stories inside them!