The moment in the rose garden

Reading in an old archaeological journal from 94 years ago (as you do), about the discovery of a complete Neolithic bowl fished out of the River Thames, it gives a fascinating insight into the ways that historians and archaeologists impose their world view. Without knowing that they do it, archaeologists of today will jump to the conclusion that an object found in a river or a lake has “votive significance”. From that they conclude a thousand misapprehensions about the sacredness of water, the sacrifice of valuable object to placate some god or goddess; in short, the world view of peoples of whom they know nothing and will never know anything. Maybe the desire to give a patronising back story to something washed up on a riverbank says more about the absence of belief in anything now, rather than the beliefs of then.

Back in 1921, a surer era when the war was behind the living and the decade was ‘roaring’, self-confidence was a watchword, interpretation of bowls found in rivers was somewhat simpler:- “Can they have floated away from settlements during floodtime?”

bowl

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One Response to The moment in the rose garden

  1. Pingback: This takes all the biscotti | Actonbooks

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