More Than Just Artifacts

It has been a tiring but fun six weeks with the field school. There is nothing quite like the excitement when, after spending days bent over a hole in the sun, you manage to find a brick wall, or a mostly-intact cellar, or even something small like half of a teacup.

But what’s more exciting about our artifacts is that as anthropologists, these things we find are so much more than just ‘cool old things’, because we can never forget that at one time, each one of these was used by a person, as real as you sitting there reading this, and can hopefully be analyzed to tell us something about their life.

So the hundreds of pieces of window glass found in Unit 72, on the edge of a former building used as a slave quarter, are meaningless if you see them as pieces of glass lying in the dirt. But if you see them forming a window, formerly having a use in someone’s life, many more questions arise. Was the window a part of the slave quarter, or was it deposited there at a different time? Why would expensive glass windows have been put on a slave quarter? What does this say about the relationship between the slaves in that quarter and the master? Or does it speak only to the master’s wishes to display his wealth to those who might pass by the quarter?

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