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Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:59 am
Posted 27 June 2011 - 09:28 am
Posted 27 June 2011 - 09:59 am
A TV documentary a year or two ago followed a dig on the site of a trench (these details may be wrong but the principal is the thing) in Belgium which was about to be completely and permanently destroyed when a new industrial estate was built. The trench was recorded and artifacts found - I can't remember whether any human remains turned up.
I'm sure that we can all start by agreeing that this kind of archeology is worthwhile, to learn what we can before a site is destroyed for ever.
Posted 27 June 2011 - 10:00 am
Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:22 am
Yes human remains did turn up (Post 2); in fact over 200 sets of remains or partial remains were found on and around the site. It is a matter of record that 66 sets of British remains are buried in Cement House War Cemetery, Flanders, all unnamed [...]
Posted 27 June 2011 - 12:09 pm
Posted 27 June 2011 - 01:45 pm
It is I think a far more complex issue[...]
Posted 27 June 2011 - 03:48 pm
3. The notion of Great War archaeology as research is the one that was stumping me and my friend. Why is the destructive process of archaeology preferable to any other form of research that would provide the same evidence? To refer back to point 1. with the identification of Yorkshire Trench, were a building not being placed on top would an archaeological survey be required to establish this? Surely with the use of such programmes as linesman and a geophysical survey the location could be pinpointed without the requirement to dig it up and thus removing it? What items, if any, are placed on the archaeological register from these digs? It is this point that I am trying to understand. I do not see how these archaeological processes help us to understand the conduct or experience of the war any better than can be understood from film, war diaries, letters, memoirs, sound recordings &c.
To return to your last point again; I am trying to understand why actual archaeology, archaeology as a form of research that betters our understanding, is used when it would seem that not destructive, conventional methods could yield the same results.
Posted 27 June 2011 - 04:18 pm
Posted 27 June 2011 - 05:23 pm
Posted 27 June 2011 - 05:55 pm
Posted 27 June 2011 - 06:14 pm
So, archaeology will reveal the hard facts better ...
Posted 27 June 2011 - 06:47 pm
Posted 27 June 2011 - 07:00 pm
For my two penny worth, being someone who has conducted a reasonable amount of excavations on WWI conflict sites I cannot agree more with you, especially, what is discovered on each and every dig. We have been able to re-write maps and war diarys, discovered complete trenches not listed or events that the evidence just could not corroborate or are not listed at all. In addition the detail that archaeology can go into to describe and show in a sceintific and highly detailed way the day to day life and the endurance and perseverence that was displayed by the troops. In addition it makes it possible, on occasion, to reveal a personal instant in time. These can range from the mundane to the most violent and tragic possible, but when conducted archaeologically these instances can be recorded for posterity to remain as a snap shot of history of an individual and their life. The points about non-intrusive methods are as you know a usual assignment question during study! The results of such a survey need to be confirmed by some level of excavation. They can however dictate where to excavate, thus allowing a smaller area to be disturbed.
Posted 27 June 2011 - 09:40 pm
Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:07 am
... We have been able to re-write ... war diarys ...
Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:22 am
Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:52 am
Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:46 am
Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:57 am
I don't understand Tim's argument (unless it is purely that of playing devil's advocate) that suggests that there is no point in Great War archaeology because the very action of excavation destroys the physical, historical evidence. If it is pointless and nothing can be learned from it, what does it matter if it is destroyed, either by development or digging?
Also, I don't agree with the basic premise of Tim's approach to this question that the Great War is so well documented. Perhaps in comparison to earlier periods, it is, but probably not with an acceptable degree of accuracy in comparison with current and future conflicts and periods.
Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:00 am
Could you please quote a specific example and explain how anyone other than whoever did the digging and "re-write" would find out about it? There's little point in this activity unless the information gained is disseminated.
Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:25 am
There is an important distinction between the excavations undertaken at Boezinge and the Plugstreet and Mametz ones mentioned. The Flanders excavations were motivated by the need to both find and record this unique section of the battlefield which eventually would be covered by industrial developments. The fact that large numbers of human remains were found and given a decent burial was a commendable by-product of the investigations. This was however a rescue dig where if it were not undertaken the evidence of conflict would be lost forever. This type of excavation is totally different to a planned dig on unthreatened areas of the battlefield the benefits of which would seem to be dubious to say the least.
The fact is that such excavations will be by their very nature destructive and will have a very large probability of disturbing the human remains from a conflict which is still etched in the family memories of many people, it is this aspect of deliberate excavations which concern me the most and I would contend that there should be very good reasons why such excavations are permitted to be undertaken. I understand that the law regarding such excavations has been tightened up in Belgium though I am not aware of the present situation in France. I pose again one question with regard to France, do you think that permission would be given for excavations of a similar nature to the ones at Mametz and the Glory Hole to be undertaken on the battlefield of Verdun?, if anyone knows of such an excavation within the recent past perhaps they will post details.
Posted 28 June 2011 - 11:52 am
Posted 28 June 2011 - 12:11 pm
Posted 28 June 2011 - 12:16 pm
Vampire was quite a while ago so by now something could have been published. The Livens Projector project is still sufficiently recent that any publication could still be tied down in peer review.
>><<I stand to be corrected but certainly in the cases of the excavation of the Vampire dugout in Belgium and the Livens Projector in France it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the media in this case the TV programmes have taken precedence over published material which is available to the public.