The true end of archaeology?

Primary History article

By Don Henson, published 19th July 2009

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

Wow! The most magical words you can hear from a child. How do we get this wow factor? In my experience, archaeology is full of wow. It was Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1954 who wrote that archaeologists should spend less time digging up things and instead dig up people. What he meant by this was that although archaeology is concerned with studying the physical remains of the past, the real end of archaeology is to shake hands with past people. When I walk into a medieval church, although I have no personal religious convictions, I insist on placing my hand on the wall of the church. Why? Because there is for me an emotional and spiritual connection that I make through that physical fabric. I touch the same wall that someone else touched in the thirteenth century...

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