Mar 5, 2009

Being fascinated by old stuff - if it's old enough

My evening outing to Bergen's cultural history museum to hear a lecture about its collection of mummies and the recent CT-scans taken of two of them, prompted yesterday's Wordless Wednesday and a reminder about an interest I once had: Archaeology.

I don't get the fascination with antiques. But make whatever the object is old enough - like a couple of millennia - and I am definitely curious. So when the museum offered a lecture on a 3,500-year-old man and a 2,000-year-old woman and their respective X-rays and CT-scans, I was there. (The photo shows the woman's mummy and her sarcophagus lid; the writing tells us her name was Teshemmin and she was a priest's daughter.)

The interest has faded but not entirely gone, and at one point I considered majoring in archaeology. I happily took Archaeology 101 in college and enjoyed all the knowledge being stuffed into my head - until I realized that if I really wanted to pursue this subject, I'd have to do field work. Out in the hot sun somewhere, digging patiently and carefully through layers and layers of dirt, millimeter by millimeter, using a little brush to move dust to see if an object is just another rock, or an actual shard from the desired century. And sitting with that little brush, having to be ever so careful, was the one thing I could never imagine myself doing.

So I never took Archaeology 102. I ended up "majoring" in psychology, instead. Y'know, in some ways archaeology was the more psychologically interesting. Archaeology attempts to understand how people thought, felt and behaved through the items left behind: buildings, graves, tools, art. The jackpot for an archaeologist is often uncovering the ancients' equivalent of the city dump. Imagine what today's garbage will tell future patient people with tiny brushes about us!

4 comments:

Protege said...

Keera, you will not believe this; I was going to be an archeologist too! And you know what; I WOULD have enjoyed those hours in a burning sun brushing ancient bones!!

Sometimes I regret I never pursued that field. (In fact, I have written - but not published yet- a post about it;)
However, in the 80s, everyone told me that being an archeologist would mean to be stuck in an office somewhere, labeling boring pots from Scandinavia.;) And that after being on boring digs in pouring rain somewhere local, in bad weather.:P And all this of I was really lucky. As most likely I would never work and be unemployed.:P

Keera Ann Fox said...

How weird! My imaginary sites were always in dry, dusty, hot, remote places - like where they find the paleontologist in the beginning of "Jurassic Park". Never occurred to me that I'd be suffering cold rain down my neck, instead. I would be happy for an office, if not the pots. :-) (So much of archaeology is tiny. I think I'd rather lift dinosaur bones.)

Sparkling Red said...

I wanted to be an astronomer until I realized I'd have to work at night, at a big telescope in the middle of the desert (far away from light pollution). Can you imagine a lonelier occupation?

Keera Ann Fox said...

Oh, I love being alone out in the desert. It is so beautiful! (I used to live in the desert.)

Too bad nobody told you you'd be stuck in an office looking at photos and graphs on computer screens or maybe you'd have the life the astronomer who blogs on "A Pacific View" has (see link in my sidebar). Mind, he does have a night job. :-)