Wednesday, 14 December 2011

"**** the Pratt"

As I return to my blog I have decided to do so with baby steps. Therefore instead of a proper sketch, drawing, painting, what-have-you, I am posting a thumbnail sketch in the theme of 'Collective Nouns of Archaeology'. A theme previously posted on in June and July of 2010.
Whilst most people think of an archaeologist as someone with a trowel and small brush* beavering away in a small hole in the ground, probably working on a dinosaur bone*. Also wearing a Fairisle sweater and sporting a beard, regardless of gender. The truth is somewhat different. There is a greater variety of types of archaeologists than any reasonably minded person could ever hope to think of; and if I could draw people that would be a whole new project. Today I give you the Theoretical Archaeologist, not the bearded jumper wearing brush waving individual but the archaeologist who goes beyond facts and data to theorise and hypothesis. Not what was but what might have been if you like. Of course many differently classified archaeologists can have one foot in the Theorist's camp
*small paint brushes are hardly ever used and dinosaur bones are the property of the paleontologists and nothing to do with archaeologists!
An Armchair of Theorists
Many years ago as a 1st year undergraduate on my first university dig I had the pleasure of digging with some wonderful staff and great fellow students, some of whom are my good friends to this day 20 years on. One student however did not ingratiate himself. Later to become known to one-and-all as "**** the Pratt", and by one-and-all I mean staff as well as students. The Pratt ate more than his fair share of the food, did less than his fair share of the work, was loud and opinionated (especially about how little he ate and how hard he worked), and was suspected of taking food from his fellow students personal foot lockers. What I consider to be his near high point though was when, over breakfast, he chose to tell the academic staff that once qualified he was going to be a Theoretical Archaeologist so that he could "lounge in an armchair in front of the fire smoking a pipe and just think about things and make them up"! The academic staff made no reply but did I feel file this remark away for future consideration and action.
Pratt's true high point was when he asked to be allowed to leave the dig several days early, thus missing the strenuous task of back filling the trenches, so that he could cat sit for his parents who were going on holiday. This he was allowed to do - for his own protection as several fellow students by this point were plotting serious physical harm.
At the other extreme to armchair padding Theorists is the broad spectrum of archaeological specialists. They produce data, facts and reports; but nothing in this world comes free, therefore...
A Cheque of Specialists
On a final note, without thumbnail sketch, is the designation of
A Crystal of Phenomenologists
I could not explain this collective noun without risking the removal of my blog by the authorities. However archaeologists may get some way to an understanding with their specialist knowledge. Suffice to say that archaeological phenomenologists attempt to "see" landscapes as ancient people did? In my experience this seems to mostly involve wandering around in the sunshine.


  1. Very entertaining, Alistair. I enjoy these glimpses of the archaeologist's world. Nice thumbnails too. Keep it coming!