This Friday, 11th July, is the Day of Archaeology, a day to find out what archaeologists really do……. I know what you are thinking, you already know what archaeologists do, they dig stuff up. You are right of course, they do dig stuff up, but they also do lots of other stuff too. Just consider Indiana Jones for one minute, he dug stuff up, but he also regularly got his whip out, raced boats through the canals of Venice and ate chilled monkey brains – his average day was rather interesting.
The Day of Archaeology project encourages people working, studying or volunteering in the archaeology world to share their ‘day’ through text, images or video. The resulting website that brings these stories together aims to raise awareness of the relevance and importance of archaeology to the modern world. The Museum of London archaeological archive – LAARC (London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre) celebrate the day by putting on an interactive lottery.
Sounds good? Yes? I know what you are thinking (I am good at this mind reading business you see), how does it work and what do I win.
Well, the archive is huge, so huge in fact that it is the largest archaeological archive in the world, it even has a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records to prove it! Amazing artefacts and treasures are hidden within its walls, but the main problem is everything is in boxes. Miles and miles of shelving, and hundreds and thousands of boxes. So how do they decide what to share, what stories to tell? Well they don’t even try, they offer it up to you, the general public, to get involved and simply choose a number. Staff at the archive run off and find the box, tweet you a picture and a bit about your artefact that you have rediscovered simply by picking a number.
How cool is that! There are six areas to explore in the LAARC, the running order is below and don’t overlook the paper records, I have seen some of the site diaries and they record everything, and I mean everything! You never know what juicy facts you are going to discover.
General Finds (11am), Registered Finds (12) , Environmental (1pm) , metal (2pm) , coins (3pm) , paper records (4pm)
All you have to do is to use the hashtag #ArchiveLottery and follow @AdamCorsini or @MuseumofLondon on the day (this Friday the 11th in case you have forgotten), they will give you the number ranges, you pick a number and wait to see what you get. You can also leave a comment on the forthcoming blogs on the website (http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/).
Of course you don’t actually get to keep the archaeological wonders you re-discover. But like a virtual Indiana Jones you get to fulfil a lifelong dream and discover archaeological treasure (I must warn you that archaeological treasure can sometimes look like broken pottery but you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth). So for all those who always wanted to be an archaeologist when they were younger, now is your chance and you don’t even have to get your hands dirty, or your knees for that matter.
It is interactive, it is completely random and this year I get to take part! Last year I picked a few numbers, but this year I am volunteering, I suspect they are just using me to run backwards and forwards, climb up ladders and retrieve boxes, but to be honest I can’t wait. Being in the archive is like waking up on Christmas morning surrounded by presents, and on Friday when you send in your numbers, it will be like opening your presents and who doesn’t like opening other people’s presents.
I remember when I first started volunteering at the archive, I was overwhelmed by all these shelves and stories sitting waiting to be rediscovered. When I finished my first volunteer project I reluctantly left dragging my feet, I wanted to take a few boxes with me, share them with my kids, my neighbours, my friends. Show them what can be found beneath your feet, what things have changed and what things have stayed the same, what Londoners of the past have left behind for us. This is the closest I get to doing that, so come join us on Friday, when we open up the archive and start the lottery, who knows what we will find.
How did I get on? Well read all about my day here – http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/an-archaeological-anneka-rice-a-treasure-hunt-at-the-museum-of-london-archive/
You can find out more about the Day of Archaeology on their website – here
You can read up on how the lottery went last year and the type of things we found – here
If you really want to come and see the archive for yourself then come to – Archaeology by Twilight a unique event where you can uncover the secrets of medieval London with booze! Tickets £8 for more information see the link below