I once suggested a "where-dunnit" kind of program on history whereby a
group of sleuths would look at the available historical and
archaeological evidence and try to answer some high profile questions.
The team would be total amateurs on the archaeology (and so present the
evidence in a way that the audience would understand) but in addition
they would be modern professional equivalents. So one could have:
1. What's the purpose of stonehenge - team: a vicar, a watchmaker, a
footballer and a events organiser
2. Where did the Iceni fight the Romans - team: a colonel, a Road
maker, a hotel manager and ... a journalist/politician
3. Silbury hill - A miner (spoil heaps), a town planner, etc.
4. How was fire invented? - A fireman, A scout leader, fireworks
manufacturer, a chemist etc.
5. What did iron age huts look like - a fashion designer, a builder, a
6. King Arthur, where did picts come from, etc.
The idea was to present people who had no particular expertise in
archaeology some of the "big questions" and let them review the
available evidence, find the possible alternatives ... and then they
would come to a conclusion ... and then we could all disagree.
And ... remembering Jeremy Clarkson's run in with a fashion designer ...
I just love the idea of seeing a fashion designer and builder arguing
The one on fire making could even be based on the apprentice: "You're
Of course ... the fun bit would be if they were allowed a three-day dig
(by professionals) at the end to prove or disprove their conclusions!
On 22/11/2014 11:29, John Wood wrote:
> I am frequently dismayed by the way archaeology fails to take advantage of
> the opportunities given to it to promote its activities within the public's
> Time Team, for all the criticism it gained, did wonders in its illustration
> of the techniques and philosophy of modern archaeology. However I feel that
> it could have done a lot more if it hadn't been trapped within the guise of
> specialistic interest.
> The 'Big Dig' and 'Time Team Live' programmes ventured further into the
> realm of general public realisation but not into general familiarity. I
> have often been puzzled with the discovery of how few people were aware of
> the programme beyond those with a specific interest in archaeology.
> I am still perplexed that Channel 4 never came up with the idea of
> popularising the programme by marketing a range of 'Archaeological Action
> Figures' as now has become the trend for such productions.
> I could see that a range of plastic TT look a like dolls would have gone
> down a treat with imaginative youngsters. The collectable dolls supplied
> with a collection of accessories. A John Gater doll complete with geophys
> apparatus to survey bedroom floors. A Phil Harding doll with a trowel,
> mattock and pint pot, with 'realistic drinking action'. The possibilities
> there only for the taking....
> On 22 Nov 2014 09:18, "Michael" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> John, I can see this from both sides. On the one hand there is no doubt
>> that a big project like the Mary Rose which was iconic enough to get
>> national media interest was a very good investment for commercial companies
>> to get publicity. On the other hand, I run a small village website and most
>> local businesses won't get off their backside to give me their details for
>> free let alone pay me to include them in the directory.
>> And you are right - you need to have the time and money to sell what you
>> are doing and ideally someone with the ability to sell.
>> And there are very few people who can be a good archaeologist and a good
>> salesman and a good financier - so unless it's a reasonably large project
>> one has to make do with the skills available.
>> Which is why I'm intrigued by the idea of putting together a huge
>> archaeological project akin to the space mission. Because maybe it could
>> assist an awful lot of people who couldn't be helped on their own.
>> I've also noticed that "2020" is coming up ... and 20:20 vision makes
>> "seeing clearly" a nice hook.
>> That suggests some kind of imaging ... like Lidar or aerial photography.
>> But, I'm reminded of the BBC project based on "doomsday" where they wanted
>> everyone to detail their locality. And I'm just wondering how many people
>> could be persuaded to go out and do a geophys survey if you lent them the
>> equipment ... and how much that equipment would cost.
>> On 22/11/2014 08:33, John Wood wrote:
>>> It is hoped that 'crowdfunding' will cover the cost of the moon mission.
>>> Funding something by public subscription is nothing new, it has been going
>>> on since classical times, but with the powerful communication tool of the
>>> web the potential is greater than ever.
>>> It enables people to donate money to projects that they woud like to
>>> support themselves rather than their taxes going onto whatever the
>>> government decides.
>>> I have always said that the archaeological sector has chronically
>>> misunderstood its own financial potential. The problem that archaeology
>>> suffers from is a moralistic element that the past belongs to everyone so
>>> it shouldn't profit the individual. However it is only the archaeologist
>>> who thinks this, the commercial sector that so often benefits from our
>>> heritage, tourism etc, rubs their hands whenever another attraction
>>> in their locality.
>>> Each summer London fills with tourists from around the world, they don't
>>> come for the weather but to experience our heritage. Heritage sector
>>> employees see little of the billions generated by this tourism instead it
>>> goes to those who make a living off the back of people's interests.
>>> There are a great number of people worldwide with an interest in the past.
>>> Most if these rarely get the opportunity to experience the past first
>>> but are more than willing to do their bit for those who do!
>>> During the early 80s there were a lot of archaeologists disgruntled by how
>>> much money was being spent on the Mary Rose project. Very little of the
>>> money spent came from the government, millions were generated especially
>>> from the US because when people became aware if the project they were more
>>> than willing to support it.
>>> The Mary Rose project approached many large commercial organisations with
>>> the hope of funding. Marks & Spencer were not willing to donate any money
>>> but what they did instead profoundly transformed the projects funding.
>>> Instead of giving money they seconded one of their marketing executives to
>>> the project for a year. The executive, Ian Dahl, marketed the project with
>>> a commercial interest using the customer's interest in the past as its
>>> product. He once told me how he found it quite remarkable that one could
>>> generate so much money from such an intangible product.
>>> On 21 Nov 2014 22:43, "Michael" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> On 21/11/2014 22:28, John Wood wrote:
>>>> Perhaps we could boldly go where no man has gone before, and make a mint
>>>>> for British archaeology too!
>>>>> I am sure loads of people would pay to have something personal put into
>>>>> time capsule on the moon but I bet they would be equally compelled if
>>>>> instead one was buried under the centre of Rockhenge.
>>>>> As we all know if aliens are going to land anywhere, at anytime, in the
>>>>> future it is more than likely it will be at Rockhenge. Or at least it
>>>>> wouldn't be too difficult to make willing donors think such!
>>>>> On 21 Nov 2014 17:02, "John Clark" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> That's an excellent idea.