Saturday, 25 May 2013

Time Team – Experimental Archaeology

I just learned that after a twenty year run, BBC’s Time Team is no more. Bummer. But with two decades of shows in the can, they’ll live on in syndication.

One of the things I appreciated most about the show was when they would get someone to demonstrate how something was done. Cast a bronze axe, weave a basket, build a boat, make a wagon wheel, chip an arrow head, etc. Sure, digging stuff up is interesting, and seeing objects in a museum is always cool, but to see the processes involved in making something, really brings it into sharp focus. Some would argue that some of it may not have been entirely accurate, they feel certain aspects would have been done slightly differently, but all in all, I think it gives people a better, and richer appreciation for history than a mere static display ever could.

Another BBC show, or more accurately, series of shows, that ply a similar vein are the Farm series. Tales From the Green Valley, Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm. Too much history deals with the broad sweep, the battles, the kings, etc. I find the day to day lives of common people and what they did infinitely more compelling. I went for a tour of Dundurn Castle a few weeks back. The basement where the day to day running of the place happened was far more interesting than any of the fancy frou frou on display upstairs to impress the elite.

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