lying, vagueness, and being boring: crucial job skills for every archaeologist
Archaeologists often have to be discreet. Which is to say, we are a bunch of professional liars. There’s a decent chance you’ve been lied to by an archaeologist at some point in your life.
“Hello, random person out by the road with an orange vest and a shovel,” you might have said. “What are you up to???”
“… soil survey,” said the shovel-wielder, looking shifty.
- Archaeological sites are sensitive, and we don’t want people snooping around and looting them when we go home for the night.
- Some projects that archaeologist contract for are controversial to some extent, and the clients don’t want us blabbing about the specifics to curious and concerned citizens.
- Archaeology is extremely interesting to a lot of people. When they hear the word “archaeologist”, their eyes light up and we can almost hear the Indiana Jones theme start to play in their heads. They simply can’t help asking us a million questions: “Where did you study?” “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever found?” “Find any dinosaurs/gold/bones today haha?” etc., all of which are the start of much longer conversations and explanations, involving many more questions. We can’t stand around gabbing to locals all day when we’re being paid by the hour, and we don’t want to seem rude: “I’m an archaeologist, now will you kindly fuck off and let me get some work done?”
So we lie. Frequently. We describe what we are doing in the vaguest, most boring way imaginable, that no one could possibly be interested in hearing more about. And then you go away, and forget about us, instead of telling everyone you know that you met an archaeologist today, and they’re working in X location because of Y project that’s happening soon.