Have you ever been on a dig? I don't mean digging your own garden to plant vegetables. I mean a historical dig in an ancient site in the hope of finding ... I don't know ... Shakespeare's Stradivarius violin perhaps!
Anyway, the other day I went to a dig not far from us. As a guest of course. They said it was some old burial ground dating back to the stone age, or bronze age or other such thing. But not as old as my mother-in-law I suspect.
So there they were, these experts with their tiny brushes and little toothpicks gently tickling the ground so as not to disturb anything valuable. The guide was explaining it all to us whilst I was sleep-walking hoping I was at home with a Guinness as a companion rather than him. He was a sure cure to insomnia and was so old I thought they'd dug him up as an exhibit for the visitors. Can you imagine? A real-live bronze age man telling you in perfect English (Cornwall accent) all about life back then.
I suggested they would dig much faster if they used one of those great JCB diggers or excavators you see on building sites, or in farms. I got a sharp elbow in the ribs by you know who.
As we toured the site I noticed on the ground a broken shaving razor. It was old and rusty but you could read the letters Gillet ... I asked the guide whether Gillet was perhaps an ancient bronze age leader, or Roman Centurion perhaps from when they conquered England. He did not reply. Perhaps he was a little hard of hearing. I also noticed several stubs of used cigarettes, proving maybe that these ancient people smoked the same brands as we do.
The dig area was the size of a tennis court; although the whole site to be excavated was perhaps ten times that. I thought it would take ages to get on with this historical dig, and in the meantime hold back whatever work is scheduled to be done here. A new road perhaps, or an apartment block or whatever.
Is it right that we spend so much time literally digging for history? And if we do find something from the bronze age; a bronze electric kettle perhaps; what would we have learnt? That they were an advanced race who invented the kettle before discovering electricity?
The find would end up in a museum somewhere and then what? People would visit to gawp at it and school children would be asked to write an essay about it. Lord ... how I hated those museum visits in my school days. Our teacher was so old when he retired he became an exhibit at that museum; next to mom-in-law!
And what of the future? Will we leave things underground for future generations to discover?
I remember of a project some years back where they buried a box with various artefacts of today's world for future generations to discover and learn about us. Amongst the things in that box were DVDs of current music, and CDs with photos of our town at the time the box was buried. They forgot to bury with it a DVD/CD player!
I suggested they put in the box my string vest to show the future the size of moths we have.
They ignored me!