Saturday, 20 October 2012

Almost time to hang up the trowels

In the words of the famous Beattie BT advert I have an ology.

Even though I also passed physics and chemistry, Beattie thought that only an Ology made you a scientist. Therefore in the first year of sixth form the extra subject I could fit into my time table around my three A-Levels was archaeology. I loved it so much doing an extra qualification in just one year, in fact at the start of the next year I did check out the archaeology department at Queens University Belfast on the Open Day.

After I had graduated, in economics not archaeology, Channel 4 introduced the show that continued to whet my appetite for all things archaeological. You probably know it too, Time Team. As the show progressed from 1994 you knew that Tony Robinson was taking in facts from the experts that surrounded him. I only had a one day field trip and no dig, but Tony went on three day digs year after year and has done 250 now. Those expert teams were usually led by either Mike Ashton or if it was a Bronze or Iron age dig Francis Pryor. They were assisted by others like field archaeologists West Countryman Phil Harding, Carenza Lewis who was replaced with Helen Geake in 2005, John Gater who introduced many of us to Geophys[ics], Stewart Ainsworth the archaeological investigator looking at the lumps and bumps and Victor Ambrus who brought the site to life by illustrating what would have been there. There were others some of the diggers became short term additions.

As well as the archaeology there was often some reenactment of what would have been going on at or near the site of that weekends dig. Whether the food, production of some good, or recreation/fighting skills.

It is reported that since 1994 although they only do short excavations the Time Team have produced more papers than all the archaeology departments in the UK. So it wasn't just entertainment but adding to the combined knowledge of our past including a number of interesting revelations.

The announcement that Channel 4 is pulling Time Team comes as a bit of a mixed sadness and pride for me. I know that in the 20 years the show has been on the air others have been inspired, educated and entertained. But I am sad to see it go, but it is to be replaced with more factual programming.

It hasn't gone yet, the next year will see a series of highlight shows with a grand finale of four special taking the show into 2014. 

For the record I didn't just get an Ology, I got an A in that particular AO Level (AS equivalent).

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