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Pitt-Rivers Began Modern Archaeology
The first true modern archaeologist was Augustus Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, a man from England, who performed his work in the late 1800s. He inherited a big estate from the Pitt-Rivers family. He discovered things from the Iron Age, from Roman camps and much more. He set to work on it, but he didn't just dig with untrained workers. He trained his workers well. They had to be able to draw so that they could sketch anything that they found. He was very organized because he was in the military. He wrote down everything that he found, not just the big things. An example of his detailed work is that another archaeologist had dug in a village earlier and reported that he had found nothing. Pitt-Rivers found 97 pits and 15 skeletons. He "turfed over" or covered up the area that he was digging when he was done with it. This practice is always used now to keep the elements from ruining the artifacts, but back in the 1800s they didn't understand the value of that technique (except for Pitt-Rivers). Most of the treasure hunters just wanted the jewels and riches of the ancient kings or queens, but he valued common peoples' things more because they helped him to understand what everyday life was like for the people.
Leonard Woolley Treated his Workers Well.We have come a long way from Schliemann digging without care, to Augustus Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers who was organized and careful. Now, with Leonard Woolley, we have moved up yet more. He excavated Carchemish, a Hittite site, in what is now Syria, right before World War I (1914). Most of the English in the Middle East had been treating the Arabs without respect. Leonard treated them like they were people, giving them decent salaries and having fun with them.
He had an assistant, T.E. Lawrence (who later became famous as Lawrence of Arabia!), who had just graduated from Oxford University. Together with another foreman, the team had lots of fun. Wbenever a worker found something, Hamoudi, the foreman, fired shots up in the air; the more the shots, the more valuable the object. They argued about how many shots the artifact was worth. The way the system worked was that there were teams of 4, 1 pickman, 1 spademan and 2 basket carriers. The pickmen hacked away at the earth (or did it very carefully when needed), the spademen loaded the basketmen who took it away. If the spademan had soft dirt to pick, they and the foreman (all in fun) would smoke a cigarette and shout for the basketmen to hurry. If the pickman was doing badly, the basketmen would do the same. An hour's work could be done in 20 minutes using that system. Sometimes, though, carefulness was needed and they picked the dirt gently and even used knives to probe around. Leonard Woolley, because he paid his workers well, treated them with respect and had fun with them, got lots of work done and found many artifacts. He wasn't any more scientific than Pitt-Rivers, but the thing about him was that unlike many other archaeologists, he treated his workers with respect.
Mortimer Wheeler Brings Scientific Methods to Archaeology.
Mortimer Wheeler, born in 1890 and lived till 1976, used General Pitt-Rivers' technique for doing archaeology. The reason probably is that he was an officer in World War 1, so he wanted to do the same thing as Pitt-Rivers did for the same reason. Unlike Schliemann, he used the evidence to prove something and used history to back him up. Schliemann read history and twisted his finds to fit his wants. His most famous dig, which began in 1934, was Maiden Castle in southern England. The castle was defended by a tribe of Britons, the Celts. The 2nd Roman legion was attacking a British castle to take it over. He found a man with a balista bolt stuck in his body in a grave that he dug up. He found that the walls had been destroyed, and that the people inside the wall after the war abandoned the castle. Wheeler refined their techniques as he moved on from site to site. As he was very organized (like Pitt-Rivers), Wheeler encouraged careful observation of stratigraphic layers and techniqes of open area archaeology.