chapter  2
38 Pages

Discovery and Investigation

Chapter 1 explained how antiquaries like Cyriac of Ancona and Stukeley, or the tell-diggers of the Near East, relied on straightforward visual inspection to nd ancient sites – and emphasised

the fact that they frequently saw them as components of a landscape (p. 15). Standing structures or earthworks obviously attracted more attention than building materials or artefacts lying around

on the surface. Some antiquaries travelled to investigate unknown areas, while others made systematic attempts to increase knowledge about regions that had already proved productive; limitations of transport continued to impose severe restrictions on eldworkers until at least the mid-twentieth century. Early antiquaries did of course make invaluable observations about sites which in many cases have disappeared or been degraded, but their notes and drawings are usually frustratingly incomplete for modern researchers. ere was a slow development from terse descriptions to schematic illustrations, and then from picturesque drawings to accurate surveys (Piggott 1979). Chance discoveries of artefacts and structures during agriculture, industry and building work – which all expanded exponentially in Europe from the late eighteenth century – made major contributions to the basic corpus of modern archaeological knowledge. Furthermore, accidental discoveries frequently provided a starting point for planned research. e pattern of discovery of artefacts and settlements in Denmark illustrates how the sources of nds and focuses of investigation changed over time, as nds made accidentally in elds and bogs during farming and drainage were gradually supplemented by objects found in graves investigated by nineteenth-century archaeologists; only in the twentieth century did nds from the excavation of settlements overtake other sources (Hedeager 1992: 14-21). Many antiquarians and early archaeologists focused on the lives of what they perceived as elites in the past, with the result that eldwork concentrated on high-status settlements and visible funerary monuments, such as barrows. Only later was it believed that detailed recording of all forms of settlement and land-use was important in reconstructing past societies. e scientic attitudes that developed between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment (eenth to eighteenth centuries) involved an increased interest in classication, which naturally required more careful observation. In addition to noticing sites visible above the ground, Camden and Stukeley made sensible observations and interpretations in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries of buried features or structures revealed

by variations in growing crops (Daniel 1967: 37, 45) while surveyors like William Roy made detailed maps of Roman remains as part of their military mapping (Hingley 2007). Stukeley also worked out the sequence of overlapping earthworks (a Roman road built across the edge of a burial mound – see Chapter 1, p. 16). Recording was revolutionised in the 1840s and 1850s by the rapid development of photography, although it was applied more to buildings and excavations than to eldwork. British and French expeditions carried out extensive photography in Syria and Egypt (Feyler 1987); when the Crimean War began in 1854, the Society of Antiquaries of London requested the British Army to instruct its photographer ‘to take and transmit photographic views of any antiquities which he may observe’ (Evans 1956: 291).