The archaeology of an archaeologist’s desk

This week’s post is a bit different. It’s not directly about Christchurch archaeology, but it is about an archaeologist working in Christchurch. We’ve taken a bunch of photographs of one of the desks in our office and we want you to take a look at them and tell us what you think the material culture on that archaeologist’s desk tells you. Which is pretty much what archaeologists do every day, albeit with things we find in the ground, or in old buildings – that is, we look at objects (artefacts) and try and interpret people’s behaviour, thoughts, beliefs, etc, from them. And it’s what everybody everywhere does all the time. We make all sorts of assumptions about a person based on the clothes they wear, the car they drive and the house they live in, amongst many other things. It’s just that archaeologists put quite detailed research into understanding the artefacts they recover, and the context from which they are found – because, after all, the past is a foreign country.

Post your thoughts in the comments (yes, I know the equation thing is a pain, but you should see the spam we were getting), and we’ll get back to you early next week with all the details about that desk…

You can think about some basic things, like what they’ve been working on, or go a bit deeper, and consider how they work.

NB: The scale in the photographs is, quite literally, to give a sense of scale. It’s not part of the story!

The desk.

The desk.


The pile of papers above, 'excavated'.

The pile of papers above, ‘excavated’.



The desk.

1 thought on “The archaeology of an archaeologist’s desk

  1. Hi everyone, what a fun idea!
    Ok, the archaeologist is female (red-painted toes) and a coffee drinker who drives to work. She likes to listen to music as she works and is comfortable with smart phones.She is also moderately green-fingered (plant on desk) and safety consious (dust mask). The tray contains the excavated remains of a man’s shoe and the reference book is aiding identification. The papers all over the desk and floor (not related to the current investigation) show there is not enough storage/filing space.
    Cheers, Joanne

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