The Ever-Present Past: Your Nearest Site


People have been everywhere on Earth and whatever they did originally in a certain spot rarely continues into the present. The Swedish legal definition of an archaeological site is that it should contain remains of people’s activities in the past that have become permanently discontinued. This means that our planet’s entire surface (including the waste-strewn ocean floors) is a cultural landscape, a single humongous archaeological site. Our global culture layer also extends to celestial bodies such as neighbouring planets, moons and even a comet. A weightless culture layer orbits Earth in the shape of space junk.

When we think of archaeological sites, however, we usually like them to be pretty old and really dense in information. We don’t just want a piece of land where someone’s sheep grazed and shat in 1950. We want a settlement, a cemetery, a fort, a well-preserved field system, we want artefacts and structural remains. And such sites are also extremely common. I have asked fellow bloggers and archaeology buffs to write something about the nearest archaeological site they’re aware of. The following one-off blog carnival showcases the kind of sites bloggers live around.

  • Anne-Marie at Pikaia reports from a 13th and 14th century Pueblo settlement in Arizona. These people farmed a fertile ash layer formed by a volcanic eruption in AD 1064.

  • Daphne at Arne Naess Was Right didn’t have to go far to find her site: her office is on Tripodon street just below the Acropolis of Athens. Here three-legged bronze cauldrons were once awarded to victorious sponsors of dramatic contests during festivals like the Dionysia.
  • Lynn at Starr’s Science and History has a lithics site in her own yard in Sledge, Mississippi. She found it herself while digging for a water pipe and suggests a date in the Early or Middle Archaic, c. 7000-3000 BP.
  • Åsa at Ting och tankar works a stone’s throw from a mass grave hailing from the Battle of Good Friday, AD 1520, in Uppsala, Sweden. Her contribution (in English) gives full context and details for the site, “old and weighted with regret”.
  • Steve at Muhlberger’s Early History has a pretty mind-bending piece of archaeology-of-the-present in his back field in Ontario: the material remains of an annual Medieval reenactor camp. Get this: remains of recent activities by people recreating a centuries-old culture from a far-off continent.
  • Bruno at Blog Wega drives across a the site of a rich Merovingian Reihengräberfeld cemetery in Belgium on his way to work every day.
  • Alun at Clioadudio lives near the early 18th century Derby silk mill in England, the world’s oldest factory.
  • Pierre at AHIMKAR grew up in Bergkvara in southern Sweden with an abundance of ploughed-out prehistoric sites just outside the door. Him and his local finds are in the above pic.
  • Henrik at Recent Finds has a 1st Millennium settlement site just outside his doorstep. This is hardly surprising as he is currently living on site at a contract excavation in his native Denmark.
  • Paddy K offers a view of Kilnaughton Abbey on Ireland where the bones of his fathers rest.
  • David at K-blogg has an enigmatic cliff inscription right beside his house in suburban Stockholm.
  • Frans-Arne at Arkeologi i Nord has an example of a truly enigmatic type of stone monument near his home in southern Norway.
  • Cardinal Wolsey’s nearest site is the end point of a land-surveyor’s baseline from the 1780s in Hampton, England. This point is marked in an unusual way…
  • Karmen at Chaotic Utopia describes the past century’s landscape changes around her Colorado home here and here.
  • My own contribution is a piece about the centuries-old farmstead of Fisksätra outside Stockholm that was obliterated when the housing development I live in went up in the early 1970s.

Dear Reader, feel free to submit more entries: I’ll add them to the carnival as they appear. Meanwhile, check out the new Four Stone Hearth carnival over at Sherd Nerd!

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5 thoughts on “The Ever-Present Past: Your Nearest Site

  1. Well, now I feel pretty sad about my flakes in the waterline trench. But I tried to be honest, and even so I don’t think a Mississippian mound 5 miles away or a 1870s cemetery 5 miles the other way would have been in the coolness range of yr other submissions either. Thanks ever so much for all the links to new blogs.


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