Heather at dig
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by Heather Burrow

Always Making A Mark

All living things make their mark in this life—on their environment and on other living things. At the Tel Akko archaeological site I have found that animals and plants consistently make their mark on the environment, especially with their holes and seed pods. Moles, bees, ants, scorpions, castor plants, and cacti must be navigated and, in some cases, removed on the site. And we must not forget that the elements make their mark as well, with the rain, wind, and sun that deposit debris within the site that must also be removed. But none of this compares to humans’ ability to leave a lasting mark. Animals, plants, and mother nature have nothing on us.

All humans make a lasting mark—that is part of what it means to be human with our inherent creative and destructive capabilities. We cannot help but significantly modify our environment and each other. And that is what the Tel Akko dig is all about. We are attempting to uncover the ‘marks’ of other humans who came before us—the structures they built, the pottery they made, the coins they used—in order to learn about their lives.

And in the process of excavating archaeologists and excavators make their own marks on the environment by building paths, setting up storage sheds, and breaking found pottery. They also make their mark with how the site is set up in the beginning—what areas are excavated, what grid lines are placed where, and what is considered significant. And I make my mark with my troweling, scraping, and sweeping.

And found past ‘marks’ or artifacts such as pottery, bone, shell, and slag must be examined, interpreted, and given meaning, because it is also human to want and seek for meaning. Context is everything when determining significance and meaning—in archaeology and all other disciplines. We must cautiously and methodically remove dirt and artifacts in such a way to be able to determine the context. Otherwise, it is just dirt and refuse. As the saying goes, ‘one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.’

Thus, in the end, for me archaeology is the science and art of giving meaning to carefully unearthed historical human relics—also known as ‘controlled destruction’—in which we are making our mark through the process of examining the marks of past humans. And in the spirit of marking, with this blog post I make my digital mark containing what I have learned through this experience!

trowel and brush

Heather setting baulk line

Tel Akko Dig Site

Heather Burrow
About Heather Burrow

1 Comment

  • Jennifer Munro
    7:16 PM - 6 July, 2019

    Brava Heather!

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Heather at dig
Always Making A Mark