The second invited speaker article. This time, Ester Moreno brings us the back scenes of being an Archaeologist! How she got in love with Science, in combination with History, how an orchestra conductor, carefully chooses her instruments?
It is not easy to find people with a call. Know exactly what you like and what you do want to spend your life on, this is incredible coming from a very young person. For me, it all began with the dinosaurs, the passion of many children! I discovered History and suddenly everything changed. I wanted to become an Archaeologist. It was obvious. So while there were children who only wanted to eat sweets, I was making my family to go and visit archaeological sites, monuments or museums everywhere we went. Luckily, they also liked them. I was/am a freak/passionate potential.
My first finding was a plastic doll on the beach, Who hasn’t played with the sand? That day I felt like Indiana Jones with my finding of Captain Planet full of sand. Happy with my new toy.
The fact is that the idea that many people have of Archaeology is a kind of a “treasures” rescuer without any kind of scientific method. A person making holes up, down, left and right, with nothing else in mind but recovering a piece, preferably made of gold. An image really far from reality.
Through books, museums and my History teachers in school,… I was slowly learning that being an Archaeologist was not only to remove sand and find things from long, long time ago. Behind Archaeology there was a scientific methodology, which I should learn.
When you mention that you’re an Archaeologist, you get used to hear the same kind of comments and questions “What is the most important “treasure” that you’ve discovered?” And it’s at that precise moment when a droplet travels your back when listening to the word “treasure”. Yes! There aren’t treasures for us. There are ceramics, metals, stones, buildings, burials, decorations,… and all together makes that we move a little more to the history of that place.
Whenever you go to a Museum or to an archaeological site that can be visited and you see a piece, I’m sure that you think either if it’s beautiful or disgusting, if it is large or small, if it is made by pieces,… but it has many more readings, Where was it found? Was it made in the same place with local materials or was it imported? With what other things was it hidden? What did it have inside? Did it have decoration? If so, which decorations does it have? From which time is it? And like that, many many more questions.
To discover what sediments have hidden is a Historic CSI game. And Archaeology becomes like an orchestra conductor. you’re on the field working, reading each archaeological level and everything is hidden on it. The director, an archaeologist must give each element a sense, to each unit, to each stratum. To know what he wants and needs from all his Archaeological Orchestra. When required of an Anthropologist, a Biologist, a Geologist, an analysis of many materials, how and when take samples to get the microscopic readings of many scientists to be readable, and after all, everything should make sense. When the orchestra conductor makes the score take some shape, suddenly the piece of land where you are standing makes sense whit respect and harmony. The past at that point is no longer a complete stranger and it is ready to be opened completely for those who want to see the past.
I’ve been through different archaeological sites: Palaeolithic in a cave, river terraces, Neolithic settlements both from Bronze and Iron Age, a Phoenician necropolis, Roman archaeological sites on land and in the underwater,… and I don’t think that I can choose which one of them has been the most important one that I’ve excavated, I just can’t! Because it was important to understand the those sites as a whole. Until the end, the slightest thing can put upside down the interpretation of a site. Just as an orchestra, all of its members from tiniest detail seems to be involved, and are just as important as the others because without them, nothing would make sense.
Many times when you’re digging and you realize that you’re the first person that touches and see that since hundreds, or thousands of years ago it puts you goose bumps. It’s true that you’ll always remember your first survey, excavation, burial,… of all the great moments of field, laboratory, conferences, reports, articles, computer hours,… many research and passion-filled hours.
The next time you’re face to face with the past, think about everything that you’re discovering on that piece, of all the people who have invested a lot of effort to discover the story of it.
And remember, if you don’t want to kill an archaeologist when with you are with one, never speak of archaeological treasures. And above all, protect the Historical heritage. It’s all present and future.