Tuesday, May 05, 2009


You often hear archaeologists enthusing over having discovered a Roman villa. Indeed, so proud are they of their spadework, that, once the soil has been cleared, they usually put the thing on show. What I'd like to know, though, is why no archaeologist has ever admitted to having found a Roman maisonette or a Roman semi. Surely they must have existed. Actually, it's my opinion that such things are dug up all the time, but the archaeologists get so embarrassed when they find one, that they try to keep quiet about it.

Why should this be so?

It's obvious, really. Archaeologists are desperately trying to project a Middle Class, pipe-smoking, intellectual image. The reality of the situation, however, is that archaeology, far from being a cerebral, academic activity, is in fact more akin to road-digging or navvying. It's borderline Working Class. Archaeologists realise this. That's why they always make a fuss about having found something royal or some objet d'art associated with nobility. They think the kudos will rub off on them. And by the same token, that's why they shut up when they dig up an antiquarian equivalent of an item from the Argos catalogue. They fear guilt by association.

Take Heinrich Schliemann, for example. Yes, he did discover the site of Troy. Eventually. What people don't realise, however - and that's because he kept well quiet about it - is that, beforehand, he dug up the Anatolian equivalents of Milton Keynes, Croydon, and Catford. There, he unearthed thousands of objects from the Bronze Age Franklin Mint collection, including "limited edition" mugs with King Priam's face on them, plates commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Iliad ("which you will treasure forever"), and little thimbles with mugshots of Hector and Achilles painted round the periphery. The man almost topped himself from the embarrassment.

So those who tune into soi disant intellectual television, such as “The Time Team”, should realise this: What they’re actually doing is the exact equivalent of watching "The Big Match Live" or “Celebrity Big Brother”, while simultaneously guzzling a four-pack of Tennent's Super and chewing on a Big Mac.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You say that like theres something wrong with it.Was there a Roman equivalent of a sports writer who knew fuck all about gladiators asking plebs "How do you feel when Gluteus Maximus loses?" Or a Roman who went to the gym merely to exercise his jaw,gawping,whilst envying the muscled God-like Celt lifting boulders?