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 "Nothing Ever Happened There"

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ferval
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PostSubject: "Nothing Ever Happened There"   Wed 15 Nov 2017, 11:45

This week our archaeology society is hosting a lecture series by  Professor Roger Wilson of the University of British Columbia on the archaeology of Roman Sicily and as part of his introductory presentation he lamented upon the comparative dearth of attention paid to the 750 years of Roman presence on that island by Romanists in general . During the Q & A afterwards he was asked why he thought this might be and his, admittedly off the cuff and ironic, response was  "Nothing ever happened there". The next question was as to why his discussion had not mentioned the Roman army or any of its associated material culture, forts, walls and so forth. These, he explained, were absent beyond some temporary postings for logistical reasons.

I couldn't help but remark that I thought that these points were not unconnected: of course everything happened there, people lived and died, conducted their lives and businesses, worshipped their gods, and did so in (mostly) peace and in an island where there has been a remarkable degree of communality and integration between races and religions. This, I think, underlines much about  the way the past has been investigated, at least until relatively recently. The military and their boys' toys have driven so much interest, the sea battles and sieges on and around the Sicilian coast are well attested and explored, but the archaeology of everyday life and peace apart from particularly impressive buildings such Piazza Armerina has been, if not completely ignored, not received anything like the same attention.

This can, of course, be largely explained by the history of archaeology as a predominately male preserve, often men of a military background, and its focus on investigating events that have been historically attested, but in a way emphasises what nordmann wrote in an other thread about the voices of the majority being silent in the record.

Where else has not received the prominence it deserves because "Nothing ever happened there"?
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PostSubject: Re: "Nothing Ever Happened There"   Wed 15 Nov 2017, 13:28

Nothing of much consequence happened on the 11th April 1954:

The most boring day ever
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: "Nothing Ever Happened There"   Thu 16 Nov 2017, 10:09

What about the little islands off the shores of the British Isles? Lundy, the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Man have seen some interesting events, I believe - but no one knows much about them.

Back later with some details, especially about the Islamic terrorists taking over Lundy (you can see this lovely little island from here on a clear day) - no time now.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: "Nothing Ever Happened There"   Thu 16 Nov 2017, 10:46

@ferval wrote:
This week our archaeology society is hosting a lecture series by  Professor Roger Wilson of the University of British Columbia on the archaeology of Roman Sicily and as part of his introductory presentation he lamented upon the comparative dearth of attention paid to the 750 years of Roman presence on that island by Romanists in general . During the Q & A afterwards he was asked why he thought this might be and his, admittedly off the cuff and ironic, response was  "Nothing ever happened there". The next question was as to why his discussion had not mentioned the Roman army or any of its associated material culture, forts, walls and so forth. These, he explained, were absent beyond some temporary postings for logistical reasons.

Well Syracuse on Sicily was the home of Archimedes ... until he was accidentally killed by Roman solders during the city's siege. Perhaps the Roman army was embarassed by what they'd done and so tried to hush it all up, hence the "Nothing ever happened there ... honest, it was nuffin to do with us."
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: "Nothing Ever Happened There"   Thu 16 Nov 2017, 13:42

A historiography lecture I once attended began with a simple poser - "Which of these have had more impact on history; women or men?".

It seems a no-brainer, that is until one actually examines the term "history", and then one is of course forced to concede that the answer has to be that the question in fact poses a false dichotomy - at least if "history" is to mean anything at all. I have the same problem accepting the term "happened" as an accurate historical assessment of activity, and I certainly believe that archaeology - of all the disciplines associated with historical study - is the method whereby we disprove, if anything, the lazy notion that only wars and other socially traumatic events "matter" when it comes to understanding history and what the point of studying it may be. Archaeology by its very nature discloses a past filled with activity, only a tiny portion of which is associated with trauma at all.

The Agrigento temple complex in Sicily, by the way, is one of the most accessible (in terms of comprehension) and fascinating glimpses of Greek and later Roman culture to be found anywhere that either of these cultures extended in the past. I mention it only as one example of several on the island, and mainly because I've been there a few times. The Roman remains in the area, which are often overlooked because of the impressive nature of their older Greek counterparts, are also an archaeological testament to over a thousand years of continuous habitation, a reasonably peaceful society integrating well with its larger geopolitical context as this changed radically several times, and ultimately a testament to that great human quality of "surviving in style" which - ultimately - is always what leaves the best and most interesting archaeological evidence in its wake no matter where in the world it occurs or in which period.

"Nothing ever happened there" in fact , when applied to archaeological study, should be enough to have any half-serious student of history salivating at the prospect of examining the evidence of previous lives lived in such a stable, and therefore fruitful, context.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: "Nothing Ever Happened There"   Thu 16 Nov 2017, 14:44

Apologies, ferval, I think I have misunderstood what you were asking here.
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