Digging Up your Digs, or, what will your stuff tell archaeologists in 500 years?


Digging Up your Digs,

or, what will your stuff tell archaeologists in 500 years?

This is actually something that I’ve thought about many times in the past.  I belong to, or used to belong to a group that does reenactments.  While at the moment, my ‘digs’ are Spartan (for me), in the past I have had many things that I imagine would have confused or confounded an archaeologist.

In my youth, I always wanted to know how things worked, why things did what they did and how one could replicate them.  I always pulled apart any electronic or electric devices that had stopped working in hopes of finding out what made it tick.  Most of these items hit the trashcan in pieces, their mysteries if not their guts intact.

In my early teens, my fascination with how things work turned to living things.  The human body held my interest to the point where even my family noticed, a rare occurrence, rewarded with a doll (standard gift for a girl in my family) but with a twist.  This one was hard plastic, clear-skin so you could see everything inside.  

She was filled with bones and organs, and came complete with an interchangeable abdomen to simulate pregnancy.  I was ecstatic.  I suppose, looking back on it, this was my mom’s way of giving me ‘The Talk’ without actually having to talk to me about it (her real ‘The Talk’ consisted of “keep your legs closed!” when I asked my first and only question of her concerning sex).  But the doll.  The Visible Woman, as she was called.  I could take her apart and more importantly, I could also put her back together.  It all made sense to me.  How I longed to see the insides of a real body!  

This was back in the days before easy internet access (if there was internet at all) so my search was relegated to the books in the library.  I wanted to be a doctor, but knew there wasn’t money in the family budget to support such a dream, so I downgraded.  I would become a veterinarian.  

I started studying with a vengeance, but that dream was shot down (or should I say, laughed down) as soon as I made it known.  I was to go to college to find a husband so I could be a teacher until I got married, like my mom did.  Any higher aim was not possible.  I believed The Lie and gave up the dream of making something of myself.  I resigned myself to not being able to become something great, and decided to continue living out my dreams and fantasies within the pages of books, and, with time fading the pain of being put down, I found release of the creative spirit in interesting hobbies.

Well, enough reminiscing, back to the topic at hand… what my stuff says about me.  As I look around the room at my worldly possessions, what strikes me most is how many art supplies I have, how many started projects, and how few finished.  I hang my head in shame at the volume of supplies that I do not use due to lack of room to be creative.    

There are materials for weaving baskets and chair seats and one finished chair, doll-sized.  Tie-dye materials.  Glass rods and torches for lamp work.  Crystal beads, semiprecious stones and silver in sheet, wire and various findings for making jewelry.  Yarn and fiber for knitting, spinning, weaving and felting, and plenty of other tools for those crafts.  Wax in various forms for candle-making, use in cosmetics, sewing.  Essential oils for medical and cosmetic purposes.  Books.  Not nearly as many as I used to have, but still plenty… some on music, some poetry and classic literature, mostly on how to do things.  

Due to a house fire 13 years ago and several moves, the last of which required considerable down-sizing, I have perhaps a tenth of what I used to have.  Many crafts are no longer viable in my limited space.  A spinning wheel and loom are no longer a part of my stash.  The equipment for brewing and vinting have also, alas, found better owners.  I no longer have the lead came and sheets of glass for doing stained glass windows and lampshades, only the lamp working remains.

I’m sure there will come a time when my home once again is filled with all the toys that will confuse and confound archaeologists.  Perhaps they’ll just assume I’m a bit of a historian.  They will no doubt think I have Indian heritage, both Asian and Native American, due to the saris and cholis, the singing bowls, the statue of Ganesha as well as the dreamcatchers and totems carved from various stones.  They may think I was a musician since I have musical instruments (guitar, small keyboard, sheet music and various handheld rhythm instruments).  They definitely will think I’m an artist and most likely a successful one considering the number of works in progress and how few completed ones there are.  I tend to give away moony of the things I do complete, but I have sold a few, so I guess by definition, I *am* a successful artist, just not one who is turning out a lot of work right now.


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