Archaeology – Being Made, Lost, Found and Restored

Archaeology – Being Made, Lost, Found and Restored

UNESCO criteria

Thru time, the peoples of the world have interacted with their environment and wanted to build. They wanted things to bring them shelter and comfort. To show reverence for their faith and ancestors. And to show their understanding of their world.

Maybe it was even pride at their skill. They wanted to show others passing by that they were craftsmen.

From the stone age on, they’ve left behind monuments of their experience. Some fell to ruin from disuse, some were destroyed by armies passing thru and some deteriorated over time.

Some ignorance has been shown of their larger cultural purpose and meaning. Because they were recovered and studied by outsiders. Seeing many mounds and mountains, outsiders thought they were trying to emulate nature. And that may have only been part of their purpose. They may also have been built and placed to study the stars. What better way than to raise yourself above the bustle of daily living?

Why were they placed where they were? The oral history talks about places of ‘power’. It may have been a battle fought, where a temple once was, where a shaman had a vision….. who knows? It could even have been early understanding of things like energy (some call them ley lines now). The original purpose may have been lost to time, but the people know that it was important to their ancestors.

So they tried to keep it. And lost the battle to the climate, armies, other religions and even their own changes of govt. When a ruler’s heir wanted to mark their own stamp on the people. So they built over what had been before. Or changed the purpose of it’s past use.


Centuries later, people came by and ‘discovered’ this monument to the past. And they may have picked it apart or ‘restored’ it, in the name of ‘study’. They may have allowed people to traipse thru it who the early people would have been offended to have within it’s walls if they’d had a say. They may have relocated it to a museum or even another land in the name of ‘protecting’ it. Or because they felt like playing a game of ‘finders’ keepers’. They felt entitled to keep it for themselves.


What had been hidden was ‘discovered’, almost by cheating. Modern man used tools that no ancestor could possibly have known of. Like sonar on an sea or river bed, or carbon to date it. Disclosing secrets that were never meant to be understood or even seen by outsiders. And used colours and materials to ‘restore’ the monument that would have offended the early people.


That’s the duality involved when you effectively go back in time to ‘study’ early people. And you have to ask if you even should. But do we have the responsibility to know the global history so we can learn from it? The people are gone, or we could ask them how they feel. In some cases we can’t even ask people of that faith or language/culture group to help. And some don’t even think of doing so anyways.


Doesn’t that mean though that we don’t have a full understanding of the meaning of the monument to the people who created it and used it? Could we be insulting them?


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