Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SciFest

I spent the last week in Joensuu, at SciFest, a science and technology fair aimed at school kids. We were there exhibiting the work done in our research project. The idea of SciFest is to give hands-on experience to the children, so the archaeological part of our stand included a sand box complete with "archaeological finds". It was a big hit. Looking at the enthusiastic way the kids were digging at the sand box I could not help feeling a little bit guilty. Considering the bad career possibilities in this field, is it not irresponsible to get children interested in archaeology?

Speaking of work, I have enlisted to work at excavations for the next couple of weeks. The work will involve digging at some Stone age dwelling site not far from Helsinki. This is the first time in a decade I'm doing archaeological fieldwork in Finland, and the first time ever I have the luxury of sleeping at home while doing it. Two weeks away from the office do not sound that bad. I just hope the weather stays nice!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Probably the worst movie I've ever seen

I went to see "10 000 BC" with a couple of my archaeologist friends. It was a must, of course, since it is set in the past. Having seen the earlier films by the same director my hopes were not high. Even so, it was worse than I expected.

The story itself is a bundle of clich├ęs. The main character belong to a tribe of Palaeolithic mammoth hunters. A man who is not especially bright or brave falls in love with a woman. She is robbed by the bad guys and of course he sets out to rescue her with a couple of helpers - a young boy, a brave soldier and a wise old man. On the road (a journe through a most unlikely geography which might or might not be Europe and Africa...) they meet other people (Neolithic tribes) who help them to overcome the bad guys. The only way the scriptwriter has found to motivate the people to act seems to be the fulfilling of some prophecy, which abound. Finally it is revealed that the bad guys are actually the people of the lost Atlantis, ruled by some alien! By this time, at the latest, you realize that 10 000 BC is not a movie set in the past, it is pure fantasy, or some kind of paleo-scifi.

The dialogue is almost non-existent, being replaced by a most annoying narrator. The characters are so thin that you could not care less whether they live or die. Through the two hours of suffering (in part of the audience) the movie seems to try to build towards an epic climax which never comes. In short, the movie did not touch anything in me.

Archaeologically, there were some nice details, like the care with which the material culture of the mammoth hunters and the farmers was portrayed. But if this much money is wasted on producing a film, could not someone have paid the scriptwriter a little more to get a proper plot?

Summer away from home

It seems that besides excavating in Jordan in August I will be working in Greece for a couple of weeks in July. This is a familiar project I have been working for before, so no big excitement in the air. I just hope it is not going to be as hot as it was last time I was there a couple of years ago. You would think that Jordan in August is hot, but that is dry heat, which is much more tolerable than the sweltering Northern Greece.

On the bright side, the impending financial catastrophe of June and July is avoided. And nobody certainly told me to concentrate on Mediterranean archaeology. In a sense it has actually been a professional suicide, because with a history of working in the Eastern Mediterranean for the last decade I am never going to get a post in archaeology here in Finland.

Oh well, I have already decided that when my career in archaeology ends I will go over to real estate business.