Archaeology Quotes

Quotes tagged as "archaeology" Showing 1-30 of 140
Howard Carter
“...as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold - everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment - an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by - I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 'Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes, wonderful things.”
Howard Carter, The Tomb of Tutankhamen

Karl Pilkington
“It's interesting to see that people had so much clutter even thousands of years ago. The only way to get rid of it all was to bury it, and then some archaeologist went and dug it all up.”
Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington

Merlin Stone
“Many questions come to mind. How influenced by contemporary religions were many of the scholars who wrote the texts available today? How many scholars have simply assumed that males have always played the dominant role in leadership and creative invention and projected this assumption into their analysis of ancient cultures? Why do so many people educated in this century think of classical Greece as the first major culture when written language was in use and great cities built at least twenty-five centuries before that time? And perhaps most important, why is it continually inferred that the age of the "pagan" religions, the time of the worship of female deities (if mentioned at all), was dark and chaotic, mysterious and evil, without the light of order and reason that supposedly accompanied the later male religions, when it has been archaeologically confirmed that the earliest law, government, medicine, agriculture, architecture, metallurgy, wheeled vehicles, ceramics, textiles and written language were initially developed in societies that worshiped the Goddess? We may find ourselves wondering about the reasons for the lack of easily available information on societies who, for thousands of years, worshiped the ancient Creatress of the Universe.”
Merlin Stone, When God Was a Woman

Elizabeth Peters
“I will tell you a little secret about archaeologists, dear Reader. They all pretend t be very high-minded. They claim that their sole aim in excavation is to uncover the mysteries of the past and add to the store of human knowledge. They lie. What they really want is a spectacular discovery, so they can get their names in the newspapers and inspire envy and hatred in the hearts of their rivals.”
Elizabeth Peters, The Deeds of the Disturber

Bal Gangadhar Tilak
“The geologist takes up the history of the earth at the point where the archaeologist leaves it, and carries it further back into remote antiquity.”
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, The Arctic Home in the Vedas

“Discover how to visit the past and bring yesterday's stories into our lives today”
Gillian Hovell, 'Visiting the Past'

Michael Rostovtzeff
“For me archaeology is not a source of illustrations for written texts, but an independent source of historical information, with no less value and importance, sometimes more importance, that the written sources.”
Michael I. Rostovtzeff

“Come with me
And you will find
What's been trapped
Inside my mind...”
K.B. Lewis

Agatha Christie
“Archaeologists only look at what lies beneath their feet. The sky and the heavens don't exist for them.”
Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia

James Henry Breasted
“[...] the success of Egyptian surgery in setting broken bones is very fully demonstrated in the large number of well-joined fractures found in the ancient skeletons.”
James Henry Breasted, The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, 2 Vols

Anthony Thwaite

In this high field strewn with stones
I walk by a green mound,
Its edges sheared by the plough.
Crumbs of animal bone
Lie smashed and scattered round
Under the clover leaves
And slivers of flint seem to grow
Like white leaves among green.
In the wind, the chestnut heaves
Where a man's grave has been.

Whatever the barrow held
Once, has been taken away:
A hollow of nettles and dock
Lies at the centre, filled
With rain from a sky so grey
It reflects nothing at all.
I poke in the crumbled rock
For something they left behind
But after that funeral
There is nothing at all to find.

On the map in front of me
The gothic letters pick out
Dozens of tombs like this,
Breached, plundered, left empty,
No fragments littered about
Of a dead and buried race
In the margins of histories.
No fragments: these splintered bones
Construct no human face,
These stones are simply stones.

In museums their urns lie
Behind glass, and their shaped flints
Are labelled like butterflies.
All that they did was die,
And all that has happened since
Means nothing to this place.
Above long clouds, the skies
Turn to a brilliant red
And show in the water's face
One living, and not these dead."

— Anthony Thwaite, from The Owl In The Tree”
Anthony Thwaite

Anuradha Roy
“Until humans came and made anthills out of these mountains, Diwan Sahib was saying, looking up at the langurs, the land had belonged to these monkeys, and to barking deer, nilgai, tiger, barasingha, leopards, jackals, the great horned owl, and even to cheetahs and lions. The archaeology of the wilderness consisted of these lost animals, not of ruined walls, terracotta amulets, and potsherds.”
Anuradha Roy, The Folded Earth

David Graeber
“They are also difficult to reconcile with archaeological evidence of how cities actually began in many parts of the world: as civic experiments on a grand scale, which frequently lacked the expected features of administrative hierarchy and authoritarian rule. We do not possess an adequate terminology for these early cities. To call them ‘egalitarian’, as we’ve seen, could mean quite a number of different things. It might imply an urban parliament and co-ordinated projects of social housing, as with some pre-Columbian centres in the Americas; or the self-organizing of autonomous households into neighbourhoods and citizens’ assemblies, as with prehistoric mega-sites north of the Black Sea; or, perhaps, the introduction of some explicit notion of equality based on principles of uniformity and sameness, as in Uruk-period Mesopotamia.

None of this variability is surprising once we recall what preceded cities in each region. That was not, in fact, rudimentary or isolated groups, but far-flung networks of societies, spanning diverse ecologies, with people, plants, animals, drugs, objects of value, songs and ideas moving between them in endlessly intricate ways. While the individual units were demographically small, especially at certain times of year, they were typically organized into loose coalitions or confederacies. At the very least, these were simply the logical outcome of our first freedom: to move away from one’s home, knowing one will be received and cared for, even valued, in some distant place. At most they were examples of ‘amphictyony’, in which some kind of formal organization was put in charge of the care and maintenance of sacred places. It seems that Marcel Mauss had a point when he argued that we should reserve the term ‘civilization’ for great hospitality zones such as these. Of course, we are used to thinking of ‘civilization’ as something that originates in cities – but, armed with new knowledge, it seems more realistic to put things the other way round and to imagine the first cities as one of those great regional confederacies, compressed into a small space.”
David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Vernor Vinge
“Programming went back to the beginning of time. It was a little like the midden out back of his father's castle.”
Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky

“Where can one buy a lit of that *Right Stuff* bravado required to shrug off the fact that your airplane is now a convertible?”
Josh Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

David Graeber
“Mainly we were just curious about how the new archaeological evidence that had been building up for the last thirty years might change our notions of early human history, especially the parts bound up with debates on the origins of social inequality. Before long, though, we realized that what we were doing was potentially important, because hardly anyone else in our fields seemed to be doing this work of synthesis. Often, we found ourselves searching in vain for books that we assumed must exist but, it turns out, simply didn’t – for instance, compendia of early cities that lacked top-down governance, or accounts of how democratic decision-making was conducted in Africa or the Americas, or comparisons of what we’ve called ‘heroic societies’. The literature is riddled with absences.”
David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Geoffrey Bibby
“Every archaeologist knows in his heart why he digs. He digs, in pity and humility, that the dead may live again, that what is past may not be forever lost, that something may be salvaged from the wreck of ages.”
Geoffrey Bibby, The Testimony of the Spade

David Graeber
“If, as many are suggesting, our species’ future now hinges on our capacity to create something different (say, a system in which wealth cannot be freely transformed into power, or where some people are not told their needs are unimportant, or that their lives have no intrinsic worth), then what ultimately matters is whether we can rediscover the freedoms that make us human in the first place. As long ago as 1936, the prehistorian V. Gordon Childe wrote a book called Man Makes Himself. Apart from the sexist language, this is the spirit we wish to invoke. We are projects of collective self-creation. What if we approached human history that way? What if we treat people, from the beginning, as imaginative, intelligent, playful creatures who deserve to be understood as such? What if, instead of telling a story about how our species fell from some idyllic state of equality, we ask how we came to be trapped in such tight conceptual shackles that we can no longer even imagine the possibility of reinventing ourselves?”
David Graeber and David Wengrow

Thomas Halliday
“To talk of the first humans is to hammer a signpost into an ancient river saying 'no humans beyond this point', no matter the ever flowing stream around it's base. There is nothing essential to humanity, no single feature that intrinsically caused one creature to be human where its parents were not... However hard you try to define every point before the signpost as non-human, and every point after the post as human, the river flows continually.”
Thomas Halliday, Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth's Extinct Worlds

Tony Hillerman
“She’s an anthropologist … You translate the word from academic into English and that’s what it means: ruins looter, one who robs graves, preferably old ones. Well-educated person who steals artifacts in a dignified manner.” Arnold overcome by the wit of this, laughed, “Somebody else does it they call 'em vandals. That’s the word for competition. Somebody gets there first, gets off with the stuff before archaeologists can grab it, they call ‘em Thieves of Time.”
Tony Hillerman, A Thief of Time

“I could never forget how excited I felt, as a student of anthropology in the early 1990s, to be entering a field that promised to mitigate racism in America. I fantasized about working alongside Indians to pursue deeper understandings of our colonial-era pasts as we gleefully dismantled whatever ideological machinery prevented us from truly seeing one another in the present. It was a noble and poetic vision which carried a generic promise of "making a difference" in the world. What I failed to foresee was that ideological machinery being ironically maintained by a morally elite stratum of antiquarians, archaeologists, and Indians in the twenty-first century.”
Timothy H. Ives, Stones of Contention

“Archaeology's calling card - the masonry trowel - does not necessarily inspire joy among people who see it routinely used to systematically dissect their ancestral places. In such contexts, it is not at all difficult to see archaeology as an instrument of settler colonial oppression.”
Timothy H. Ives, Stones of Contention

“A hundred miles beyond the point, the farthest point, the most distant point on the horizon. Out past the alkali flats and sinks; Misfit and Stillwater, Humboldt and Carson. Out over the mountains, ice age islands and archipelagos, Ichthyosaur, Columbian Mastodon boned talus slopes and scree fields. Beyond the Saltbrush, Bitterbrush, Creosote Plants and Rabbitbrush, petrified Redwood forests and Mount Mazama blowouts. Out over the playas, hoodos and springs, koi ponds and basins. Beyond the mustangs, horned lizards, whiptails and rattlers and over the abandoned mines; silver and gold, copper, bornite and cinnabar. Out past the hematite and jasper, chert and agate. Out over Lovelock, Spirit Cave and Wizard's Beach. Beyond the grinding rocks, diorite and granitic boulders cast adrift in a sea of sand, dust and wind. Beyond the Rye Grass, Rice Grass and Bunchgrass. Out over the land into the distance and beyond. The distance of a thousand years, a million years, a century, a lifetime. A distance of roads forgotten and graves abandoned, misplaced Iris and Lilac the only indication of a person's passing. Out past Bonneville, Daggett, Donner and Walker. The two tracks, the single tracks, the deer and coyote tracks, lizard tracks and no tracks at all.

Out over the land.....”
P Edmonds Young

“The Thames is England's longest archaeological landscape and thousands of the objects that fill our museums have come from its foreshore. (p.47)”
Lara Maiklem , Mudlark: In Search of London's Past Along the River Thames

Mathias Énard
“Europe sapped Antiquity under the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Egyptians. Our triumphant nations appropriated the universal with their monopoly on science and archaeology, dispossessing the colonize populations by means of this pillage of a past that, as a result, they readily experienced as alien: and so brainwashed Islamist wreckers drive tractors all the more easily through ancient cities since they combine their profoundly uncultivated stupidity with the more or less widespread feeling that this heritage is alien, retroactive emanation of foreign powers.”
Mathias Énard, Compass

Stewart Stafford
“The Atlantean Road by Stewart Stafford

A snake of stones
beneath the waters
Soldiers march
past spectral daughters

Phantom travellers
To work or home
Atlantean lives
replay in foam

The water drowned
out extinct times
Of joy and war
Of love and crime

The divers rapt
by sound immemorial
Echoes entombed
Sweet voices choral

The flame of Erasmus
and barking sounds
Of canine guards
and strangers found

The road roused
from silent sleep
To tell explorers
how ancients weep

© Stewart Stafford, 2023. All rights reserved.”
Stewart Stafford

Sam Kean
“Curious archaeologists later dug up Brahe’s body and found a green crust on the front of his skull – meaning Brahe had probably worn not a silver but a cheaper, lighter copper nose. (Or perhaps he switched noses, like earrings, depending on the status of his company.)”
Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

Bart D. Ehrman
“The problem with material remains is that they are silent: they don't provide their own interpretations. And that means various interpretations are possible.”
Bart D. Ehrman, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife

Azar Gat
“The innate propensity to look for and impose structure is revealed as a prominent feature of our species both by archaeology and in extant hunter-gatherer societies.”
Azar Gat, War in Human Civilization

“Abandoned weapons and corpses may be washed away, removed by animals, dismembered by the victors as trophies, or buried, burned, or otherwise disposed of by the vanquished after defeat. It is reasonable to expect that direct archaeological evidence of warfare will be limited, and that it will actually tend to underestimate the frequency and bloody nature of past conflicts.”
Malcolm Potts, Sex and War: How Biology Explains Warfare and Terrorism and Offers a Path to a Safer World

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