Thursday, 2 August 2007

Digging the civilian stuff

What I have found most exciting in this excavation is stuff we have excavated that speaks of the civilian experience of the Great War in this area, before and after the war. In one of the trenches we have remains of a farm blown up by a mine during the war, part of the battlefield but with soil full of brick, tiles, china, curtain cloth, parts of a cattle byre, a horse harness and so on - very ordinary remains, that really speak of what the war did to very ordinary places and people. These are losses not often commemorate or remembered (I was struck by the comment of a local woman visiting the trench, who said that while in her household they collect military stuff they come across in fields, tiles, bricks etc... 'mean nothing at all for us'). The other thing we have found is evidence of post-war recuperation, when local people and possibly some enterprises smashed up bunkers to retrieve metals that they could resell and perhaps hardcore for repairing local roads. I think it's great to have documented civilian activities archaeologically - and tomorrow I am going to meet some elderly locals to see if I can add some stories to flesh out the civilian picture of the wartime (no of course they are not THAT old - but I hope they will have stories from their parents and grandparents). To be continued tomorrow...
Paola (the dig's social anthropologist)

No comments: