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Re: Latest on Newport Tower dig

Subject: Re: Latest on Newport Tower dig
From: "Tom McDonald"
Date: 5 Dec 2006 08:32:15 -0800
Newsgroups: sci.archaeology
Eric Stevens wrote:
> On Mon, 4 Dec 2006 23:51:56 +0100, "Peter Alaca" <[email protected]>
> wrote:
> >Eric Stevens <[email protected] > wrote:


> >> What has happened to the thirst
> >> for knowledge?
> >
> >Nothing happend with the thirst for knowledge, and
> >there is more knowledge to chew on than ever before.
> >Almost too much. Imagine the amount of spectaculair
> >information that came available with the building of the
> >new 140 km freight railway from Rotterdam to Germany
> >(the Betuwelijn). And only a fragment of the total was
> >excavated. And all the other infrastructural projects, the
> >building projects in the innercities and the expansion
> >of the cities. The archaeologist are always running.
> >Planning, meeting, digging, reporting, and too little
> >analysing for the big picture.
> None of which explains why you think the persons undertaking the
> archaeological investigation of the site of the Newport Tower should
> not be motivated to investigate

Motivation does not come into it most of the time. Most of the time,
funding, permission, time, capacity and necessity come into it. If it
were merely a matter of someone's motivation, everything would be dug.

> an associated area of
> disturbed/different soil for which there is no known historical
> explanation.

If there is no historical explanation, how can you say that the area
you want to find out about is associated with the tower? If you mean
mere propinquity, then would you be in favor of digging everywhere
*next to* artifacts or locations known or suspected to have real
questions that archaeology might be able to answer?

>Its not as though its far away. Tuoro Park is small.

Size is not the issue; and nor is nearness. Some issues to be

Was the area you want looked at included in the permit?

Were funds and time budgeted for its exploration?

Is there a meaningful archaeological question that could be answered by
such an exploration?

If so, are current techniques and tools adequate and appropriate for
conducting such an exploration; or would it be better to let the site
sit for later exploration?

> Never  mind. You wouldn't want to look at it. I would. Let's leave it
> at that.

I don't know about Peter, though I think he'd very much like to look at
most of the things you'd like to look at. However, I think you truly
underestimate the demands on archaeologists' time and capacities by
ahead-of-the-Cats and legally mandated work. Most of which, BTW, is
survey, with little support for either in-depth reports or
archaeological follow-through.

Put that together with the clear need to *not* dig unnecessarily in
order to leave the greatest possible amount of archaeological record to
be read by folks in the future with better tools and methods; and, as
you've pointed out, with the vast backlog of reports needing to be
written and artifacts to be processed and made available; and your
suggestion that someone indulge you (and probably their) curiosity
seems a bit naive.

And if you think archaeologists are any less curious about these things
than you are, you really don't know archies.

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