Armchair Archaeology

Armchair archaeology: what a concept! I discovered last week a new technology poised to enable a person to make vicarious archaeological discoveries. Here’s the article link:

Two links embedded therein are quite cool: (a 3D exploration of the Giza pyramids as they looked thousands of years ago) and (a 3D Parisian stroll spanning centuries).

Sitting in my jammies, peering at my screen, sipping iced tea would be a LOT more comfortable than expiring in 118-degree June heat (almost 48 degrees Celsius) on the shores of Galilee, ferreting as an amateur in a pile of dusty debris to unearth obscure clay chunks. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to discover anything.


Archaeology is dirty, back-breaking, unglamorous work. (Kind of like writing.) It requires specialized knowledge of history, the patience of Job, and gallons of sunblock. Hands resembling claws, hair mimicking a broom, and skin of camel leather mark most professional archaeologist I’ve seen. In short, there’s nothing comfortable about the profession, nor is it easy. (Kind of like writing.) And the chances of a Howard-Carteresque-Tutankhamen discovery are one in a zillion. (Kind of like writing.)

Here in my office now, I have pottery dating from 11th- and 12th-century Persia, and 17th-century France. A Coptic manuscript page, and illustrated Byzantine ones. A (miraculously intact) 6th-century terracotta flask, and a 3rd-century Roman glass bottle. I can identify these items as easily as I can spot fluid syntax or a pronoun error. These skills have taken decades to develop, honing a weird, subconscious intuition. Could I have developed these off-site, or without laborious practical experience?

I’m excited about what the future holds, and actively watch developments in archaeology that ease, fine-tune, and speed the discovery process. These technologies offer great promise, like the social-media-management apps cited in last week’s blog ( that ease, fine-tune, and speed platform-building.

But what I’m really looking for is something to streamline the publishing process. Hope springs eternal.

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