Archaeology and Time Team

Posted: September 13, 2009 in Archaeology, History, Time Team
Tags: , , ,

Many of you probably heard about the widely popular tv-show called Time Team. As from my point of view as an upcoming archaeologist Time Team is both good and bad.

I watch it myself whenever I can because in my opinion it is a good show. It  brings quite alot of attention and popularity to archaeology and informs the public about archaeology, crafting and often involve the local people in the excavations which is really good in most cases.

There is a couple of bad things about Time Team. The first thing is that they only excavate for three days no matter how big the site is. If it is a really big site and alot of these small excavations with different teams are excavating from time to time it can be really hard when the archaeologists are doing a final excavation. The site can be so cluttered with trenches and if it’s poorly documented it can be really hard to find out where there are old threnches and where there are untouched layers. The other bad thing is that there are sometime a risk that the team really would like to answer their questions in the three days which means younger remains or archaeological remains of the wrong “age” is maybe not ignored but not recorded as well as it should have been.

To be honest I haven’t seen a Time Team excavation in real life neither their recordings from excavations, hopefully and at least in the shows they seem to be quite good, often with alot of different experts which should make it better and more accurate. Archaeology today needs attention from the public and archaeologists need to be better to inform the public about the importance of archaeology and our cultural heritage. Time Team is a great way to spread and let the public be a part of the archaeology and our cultural heritage which belongs to everyone. In the society today people often want quick ways to get new information but with the possibility to go deeper and retrieve more facts. Using media and technology is great ways of reaching the public and make them more excited about archaeology and hopefully this blog can be part of that as well.

The magazine Current Archaeology have an interesting interview with Time Teams professor and leader Mick Aston about Time Team and if it’s been worth all the effort.

Check it out here:

Time Team Interview

And if anyone from Time Team or anyone related to it is reading this get in touch. I would like to talk to you and find out more about the archaeology in Time Team and how it is to work with the public in a different way than most archaeologists do.

I’ll get back to Time Team in the future as well as there is an American Time Team that I’ll try to look into. There were also a Swedish program called “Utgrävarna” (Archaeologists or Excavators if you translate) that didn’t work as well but more about that in future posts.

Don’t forget to leave feedback if you like or don’t like what you read!

  1. Re “Time Team”:

    I agree that there are both pros and cons to this programme. The pros are fairly obvious:-
    It is an enjoyable programme that helps to educate and interest the public in archaeology which may in itself influence bureaucrats in prioritising and funding archaeological projects.
    The cons, however, are somewhat more complicated. The excavations are usually rushed – are these rescue sites that would otherwise be destroyed or is it purely for research? If the latter, maybe it would be preferable to leave well alone until sufficient time and money become available for a more scrupulous investigation – archaeology is a destructive process.
    Sometimes the excavation is shown to continue in bad weather – bad practice, surely?
    What happens after the filming stops? Is the site covered over and protected?
    Does the publicity afforded to particular sites make them more vulnerable to opportunist treasure seekers with metal detectors?
    As an ex-archaeologist (Canterbury, Winchester, Sussex and Somerset) I would be interested to hear any other comments.

    • loleth says:

      Thank you for your comment! Was very interesting and I agree with the pros and cons that you present. I think some sites are rescue excavations but probably most are research. But then you can always discuss is it a rescue excavation when digging at a site in a field which is been ploughed each year? The ploughing destroys the site a little each year but the area might not be exploited when Time Team is there.

      Several small scale excavations on the same site often makes it harder to interpret and might destroy more than one big excavation at a site. Digging in bad weather is necessary sometimes when you have construction companies waiting for you to finish the digg.

      But for Time Team it feels like they could at least count with a day or two of really bad weather and stop excavations. The site should be covered and protected but I don’t really know if they really do that. They could use tents and other things to aid them in bad weather conditions. The risk of illegal metal detecting probably increases at least on sites which contains alot of metal finds and is easily acessible but Time Teams education hopefully also makes that the treasure seekers stay at home instead. One good thing about Time Team is that they also have different scientists and methods during their field campaign. This hopefully makes a good documentation and makes it possible to know more about the site than just from excavations. There is now also an American Time Team which I’ll look into when have the chance.

      It is great to hear from other archaeologists, it would be great if we could get a discussion going I might establish a forum and some other stuff if bigger discussion starts.

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