Sunday, June 5, 2011

Digging Up The Past

At last, our final night in the hotel has come! Matt and I will be moving into our new place tomorrow and I'm excited to get our things and start unpacking and making a new home. In addition to spending these weeks house-hunting and cooking up strange things in our hotel room, Matt and I have also started exploring our new hometown.  We've tried a few local eateries (including a great little place called Duke's Diner that serves Pad Thai and Green Curry alongside burgers and fries) and immersed ourselves in the local culture (i.e. checked out the country music scene in Nashville), but many of our adventures have been historical in nature. Matt and I are both history buffs, so a few weekends ago our exploration took us to the Civil War site of Fort Defiance, a former Confederate outpost.

Fort Defiance Interpretive Center

We timed our visit perfectly: the new Fort Defiance Interpretive Center had just opened a few weeks previously and we were able to enjoy the exhibits, talk to a local guide, and take a stroll along one of the many the newly paved walking trails. There are only embankments and depressions in the ground where the fort once stood but it's still interesting to view these sites and imagine the existence of a very different town than the one we're just getting to know.

Just over a year ago at this time, I was working at another historical site - uncovering the remains of a Roman settlement in Wiesbaden, Germany.  I've always been fascinated by archaeology and was glad to get the experience, uncovering several examples of Roman metalwork and pottery, and even a few older, Iron Age finds during my weeks on the dig. I learned a lot about the practical business of archaeology and preservation, but also got a taste of how personal and rewarding the work can be.

It's much more physically demanding and less glamorous than Indiana Jones would have you believe ( golden chalices or high-speed chases in cars, boats and planes?), but there's nothing quite like the knowledge that the piece of pottery you're holding was last touched, centuries earlier, by Roman hands.

German archaeologist Christian with one of our finds - how beautiful!

I've been looking for more volunteer opportunities ever since and hope to find something during our time in the TN/KY area. The archaeological community seems a little hard to break into, but I'm hoping that with diligent research and an ample helping of enthusiasm, I'll be able to find a way. Of course, even if nothing turns up, Matt and I will still keep exploring and learning from others who are digging up the past.

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