There has been much made in the news recently about the rise of the ‘Media Friendly’ Historian or Academic. With their snappy delivery and charismatic persona, they are credited with bringing the past to life for the tech savvy and short attention span generation.
The truth is media friendly historians and academics have always been around, the difference now is that there are far more opportunities to become a star with the proliferation of outlets available. Antiquarians, the fore-runners of today’s modern historians and academics, were just as clever in using the media outlets and resources available to them.
However, there is a group of people who we don’t hear about so often, but whose work we encounter coming out of the mouths of these presenters. We should, as people who are interested in our heritage, be aware of and support them however we can.
The ‘Day of Archaeology’ http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/, founded by Lorna Richardson and Matt Law (@lornarichardson and @m_law on Twitter) highlights the work of the archaeologists, who day in and day out are passionate about what they do. The first ‘Day of Archaeology’ was in July 2011 and the breadth of topics and countries represented on its website is now staggering.
From Zooarchaeologists sifting and sorting their way through boxes of animal bones to tell us more about the community who bred these animals; to Digital Archaeologists creating buildings from archaeological plans, interpreting the post holes or foundation trenches.
Maritime Archaeologists monitor the deterioration of undersea landscapes or wreck sites and decide on conservation strategies and ‘circuit diggers’, the hired guns of the commercial archaeological world, work all over the country in all weathers staying in Bed and Breakfast accommodation and producing high-quality results whilst being too cold to even hold a pencil.
All of these people have a story to tell, and by following the ‘Day of Archaeology’ you can gain an insight into their own personal world and their motivation to record and recover the past for future generations. So next time you watch one of these programmes with its charismatic presenter, remember there is an army of unsung specialists who are quite literally, putting the words in their mouths.
The next ‘Day of Archaeology’ is on Friday 26 July 2013.
You can follow the day through the website http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/