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Quotes for Archaeologists

"The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it" Oscar Wilde. 1891. The Critic as Artist.

"A thing belongs to the one who remembers it most obsessively" Kanan Makiya. 2001. The Rock: A Tale of Seventh-Century Jerusalem.

"About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorise; and I remember some one saying that at this rate a man might well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe their colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of service." Charles Darwin 1861.

"Problems can not be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them." Albert Einstein

"Archaeologists ought to be grateful to worms, as they protect and preserve for an indefinitely long period every object, not liable to decay, which is dropped on the surface of the land, by burying it beneath their casting." Charles Darwin 1881

"The hardest thing about being a communist is trying to predict the past." Milovan Djilas (1911-1995), Yugoslav author-politician. Djilas was warning apparatchiks rather than Marxist archaeologists - but still ....

"You never know how the past is going to turn out." Jude Quinn in I'm Not There, 2007

"Astronomers have a great advantage over archaeologists: they can see the past." Loeb and Pritchard, New Scentist 27 Oct 2012

"The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

"... everything happens in its own time" Bob Dylan, BBC interview

"Time is not a thing that passes ... it's a sea on which you float." Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood

"I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times." (Psalm 77:5 (King James Version)

"The more one can see the past the more one can see the future." David Hockney Secret Knowledge 2006:197.

"In the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured." Victor Frankl 1946 Man's Search for Meaning.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." George Orwell 1984

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Saturday, 1 November 2008

The Awa Book of New Zealand Science. Edited Rebecca Priestley, 2008, The Awa Press.

What a great book – extracts from papers and writing about science from through our history, embellished by some relevant pieces of our poetry. Of course much of the material is largely of local interest – the pieces by the likes Cockayne, Cotton, Guthrie-Smith will resonate with New Zealanders but less for people away from here. They are well chosen – Priestley has a good eye for what is readable as well as significant. For archaeologists the pieces by Rafter and Adds connect us to the bigger picture.

It is the bringing together here of the international contributions that is not often done. If one puts together the pieces by Rutherford and Marsden on the discovery of the atom’s nucleus, Tinsley on the nature of the universe, Wilkins on DNA, and Alan Wilson (with Rebecca Cann) on our recent African Genesis this is an astonishing contribution to knowledge of the fundamentals of our world and ourselves. The diaspora of New Zealand trained scientists has been a large one, and still is. Inevitably much of their work will be done away from here, but we can take some of the credit. For a country that does not often celebrate its achievements in science this is a little strange.

Priestley celebrates our science. All strength to her.

Footnote - in 2009 the Royal Society gave this book an inagural science writing award - well deserved.

 

The principal organisation for archaeologists in New Zealand is the New Zealand Archaeological Association.

My interests include: C14 dating, numerical taxonomy, site protection in development projects, web communication and museums.  

Garry Law
About me

This page is mainly about New Zealand archaeology.  The Blog here is some personal observations which I might make from time to time.

Archaeology in New Zealand is practiced in respect of the Maori (Polynesian) occupation of New Zealand (including the Kermadec Islands to the north and Chatham Islands in the east), starting perhaps 800 years ago, but also in respect of historic sites left by more recent visitors and immigrants, European and Chinese, since 1800 AD, looking at settlements and sealing, whaling and mining industries.

New Zealand archaeology relates particularly to New Zealand of course, but archaeologists based here also work in Polynesia, the rest of Oceania, particularly on Polynesian origins and also in South East Asia - particularly Thailand. There is also some research on historic sites in Antarctica. There are close professional relationships with Australian archaeologists and a quite a few there have come from here, but little research is conducted across the Tasman Sea in either direction.


Auckland, August 1908: A Stop on the Great White Fleet World Cruise 
By: Garry Law
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