A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 Why do bits of civilisation disappear?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1109
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 01:38

Recently we were watching a British programme on some sort of landscape archaeology, popularised. They were uncovering a town garden in Chatham in Kent. We wondered how these places got so completely covered that there was no recollection of them in people’s memories or in news reports or similar. Some oral memories go back centuries and people fight wars over what seem rather trivial historical events. This garden was able to be redeveloped by checking plans of it recorded earlier. I think the records were much more detailed than they had expected. It was hard to know if this garden had just been abandoned for some reason, or if it had just got gradually untidier till it was lost.

You read of civilisations which exist on top of each other – up to 10 or so. And that always seems odd too that whole cities disappear and then people use the same site to build another one.

On the other hand there are quite a number of houses where I live which have been demolished or are in a sad state of disrepair, even though they are barely 100 years old, and for one at least people younger than me remember dances held in a beautiful hall in the architecturally-designed home. Now it is not much better than a wreck, used by the farm owner to have his lunch in when he’s working nearby.

In Dunedin, the city not far from me, a new mall was being planned when they found an old causeway (not very old; Dunedin only goes back to 1848 for European settlement) that no one had known about. Plans were put on hold and the old road has to be incorporated into the design and kept apart as a sort of tourist feature. I still find it odd that people didn’t have a passed-down memory of this road. Perhaps they did, but weren’t asked. And I don’t really know why it would have been covered over, either. I don’t of any reason why such a thing should have been built over in a newish city like Dunedin. It doesn't have layers.

What would be the reasons?
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2117
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 06:22

I'd imagine things get forgotten simply because people stop talking about them and therefore don't pass it on to the next generation. I could probably think of lots of things that were there (when I was growing up) that no longer exist and I haven't bothered to tell my children about. I don't see a lot of it as particularly important and, more than likely, they wouldn't be interested anyway. lol Something as inconsequential as a garden probably wouldn't raise much interest that the story of it would be passed down through many generations. Not unless something extra-ordinary had once happened there anyway.

The road in Dunedin could very well have been deliberately buried as new town planning deemed it useless and a different road was built elsewhere. The land always reclaims it's own as well, if a structure is not constantly maintained. With every wind arrrives a fine layer of dirt, and unless swept away slowly builds up over time until eventually something can disappear entirely. I see it in Greece all the time, some things no longer have a use so they are left or the people have all gone elsewhere and it is eventually forgotten.
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1890
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 09:20

A very interesting point, ID. I was in discussion yesterday about planes used in WW2. A young man is most concerned about the lack of recorded interest until most of the living witnesses are in their nineties. There again I have an odd dilemma. I have just realised that I know far more about one side of my young postman's family going back 4 generations than I am certain he does. There is nothing sinister there just good folk deeply rooted into the area in a web of the very old families. He doesn't look as if he would interested in knowing anything more than that his boots seem a bit tight.

What to pass on, how should we do it - or even should we - and where should such the fund of old knowledge be stored? And there would be so much of it. Yes, I good point, ID.... letting go.
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1109
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 21:40

That sort of interest in family history seems to be more fascinating as you get older, which is a bit topsy-turvy really. Would be more use for people beginning their family to know about, you might think.

I would have thought there was plenty of interest and records of WWII planes, but perhaps not.

ID, I live in an area where people seem to know tiny details of every little corner or bay and never forget anything. So it surprises me a bit when somewhere like Dunedin just pops up with new historical places that have been forgotten. Gardens do tend to be ephemeral and easily changed or lost, I suppose, though families and communities often keep the knowledge of a beautiful large garden alive in their memories for quite a while. (If only to frown at the new owners' lack of care.) When we visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan work had stopped on them when staff went off to WWI and knowledge of them seemed to be very quickly lost, to be regained later. And yet you'd think that would have been a little bit of family history that would have been spoken about.

It's more the thought that they seem to be built over that is odd. How is the ground and soil raised so much that what is underneath is not noticed in quite a short time? Dunedin's old road might have been deliberately built over, though obviously it wasn't broken up first, which you might expect. I haven't seen anything about the actual history of this road yet and why it might have been abandoned. Was oddly quite hard to find something by googling, though I knew about it from earlier news reports. It delayed construction.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 22:01

I suppose the extreme examples are places like Tell Brak in northeast Syria. 40 metres high, and covering about 320 acres.
It was excavated just prior to WWII by Agatha Christie's husband Sir Max Mallowan.
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1890
Join date : 2012-01-16

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sat 11 Feb 2012, 23:36

Caro, preservation in NZ is, I know taken very seriously. I know a young NZ archaelogist who is hired to thoroughly examine frexh building sites and development. He can get issued a stay order on the slightest bit of evidence of earlier use and sometimes halt work for a very long time.

Our area here is so deeply layered that it is only the local enthusiasts like ferv who get involved in rapid digs. The problem, so I was told after a much longer dig was that they had so much material it would take years to fullly document - and would would do it - and who fund it?

There are blanket areas of conservation areas here and. I live in one and honestly I can see nothing at about my house wowrth conserving - aside from my new conservaatory, of course.

Then there is the problem of archiving. Yet another local green field site has been given over for archive storage, That is for business papers and there are a very large number of such stores all over the country.

Sadly the naming of places no longer reflects its use as it used to. The clues of various functions of a place are soon lost - though somewhere in that great mass of archives detail will be recorded. From the deeds of the house I was born in I can pinpoint the ancient place of a windmill and the former place names long forgotten that no one else seems to know.

Blessed be the local historians who try to research and record detail of their own local.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2572
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 00:14

The vast majority of archaeology these days is being carried out by commercial units as part of developer funded excavations required by planning regulations. Some like this one http://www.framearch.co.uk/t5/ are very well done indeed but many although technically well enough carried out are not published in the public domain and so there's building up a mass of what's termed 'Grey Literature'. ADS and others are attempting to pull it together but the quantities are daunting. Of course the slowness of research archaeologists in publishing has always been a problem and the amateur gentleman archaeologist in the past has driven people nuts with their scanty and unreliable records of excavations and collections.

I live in a conservation area too and all the houses here are listed. If any of my neighbours wanted to build a conservatory, all hell would break loose, technically we're not allowed to change any of the external features of the buildings and could, if the planning people if they got picky, could insist on any changes like new windows being reinstated.

Multiple rebuilding of settlements on the same site is not really so strange, it's only rarely that it was a complete simultaneous rebuild. That might happen after destruction by war, fire or natural disaster but usually it would be done much as we renovate our cities today, a bit at a time, they just didn't clear the ground first quite so thoroughly and if the city was mud brick then it would gradually crumble and accumulate. After all, most were built in a particular spot for a good reason be it access to a port, a strategic position, communication links or whatever and once a good spot, always a good spot. These places tended only to be abandoned when something catastrophic happened, serious environmental changes, forced movement of population etc.

Some places seem to been incorporated into myth and local folklore but those of perceived lesser importance just fade away.
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2117
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 03:14

@ferval wrote:
I live in a conservation area too and all the houses here are listed. If any of my neighbours wanted to build a conservatory, all hell would break loose, technically we're not allowed to change any of the external features of the buildings and could, if the planning people if they got picky, could insist on any changes like new windows being reinstated.

Our whole village is listed too ferval, and as much as I approve of conservation it can also be a right pain in the bum at times. Externally, all windows, shutters, doors have to be wood and houses are not allowed to be extended above a certain height and generally have to be kept within their original size, it all leaves absolutely no room for a home to expand with growing family needs. The buildings have to be kept white and all the woodwork painted in the blue range, which is really bazaar because the white and blue colours are not the traditional colours of this island, ochre walls and dark green woodwork is! A classic case of what someone merely thought should be traditional and in accordance with many other islands and being enforced, or artificial conservation as I call it.
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1109
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 04:35

We seem to have the opposite problem here - I was complaining recently about the huge houses people built now and someone told me part of the reason was that new developments often require a four-bedroom house and sometimes a five-bedroom. I suppose it keeps out the riff-raff who can't afford the prices of these houses. (I like a bit of riff-raff round me. The thought of being stuck in one of these estates surrounded by a whole lot of middle-class people exactly like me (despite my husband assuring me that nobody could be quite like me - I don't think he means that necessarily as a compliment) I find very depressing. I want children and old people and funny old houses and little homes and big ones around me.)

We do have some areas where colours are prescibed - in Central Otago (Queenstown area) the houses are required to be in keeping with the environment, ie browns and creams etc. One architect fought to be allowed some bright pink, not seen from the road, but I don't think it was permitted. And in the plans for the Christchurch rebuild (if it ever happens) they have said no buildings over 10 storeys, or maybe it was 7. I like that idea since I don't like high rises partly for aethetic reasons and partly because I don't like being in lifts, so one-storey buildings are my preference.

Some years ago our historical society considered asking the Historic Places Trust to put the old home I mentioned earlier (with the ballroom) on its listings, but we decided the restrictions would be too expensive for the owners. (Though I don't know why people bought it who had no interest in keeping up any maintenance on it. It's a real shame it was allowed to disintegrate.)
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2117
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 05:02

@Caro wrote:
ID, I live in an area where people seem to know tiny details of every little corner or bay and never forget anything. So it surprises me a bit when somewhere like Dunedin just pops up with new historical places that have been forgotten.

But rural communities are different from Urban communities. Country communities are small and the same families usually stay on the land or in the area for generations, life is at a slower pace where seasons dictate rather than the clock and any small change in that enviroment will be noticed and appear to be large enough for the change to be remembered and passed on.

Whereas in city or town communities the majority of people are not indigenous (I use that word loosely) to the area, they will have moved there at sometime for work and their knowledge of the place will only be as far back as when they first arrived and whatever has gone before their arrival will not be within their memory. Larger places expand rapidly because they have a constant movement of population, people coming and staying a few years or less before moving again elswhere. It would only take a short time for things to get forgotten in those conditions.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Sun 12 Feb 2012, 13:05

I'm not sure - one local pub is still known by the name of a landlord who left over 20 years ago - and an area is still known by the nickname "Sodom" it acquired many years ago, although the cottages that were the centre and cause have been gone longer than that.
Back to top Go down
Giraffe
Aediles
avatar

Posts : 42
Join date : 2012-01-16
Location : N. Ireland

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 19:58

Pub names tend to hang on, like a bad smell, long after the cause of the smell is gone. Our nearest is still known by the name of 3 landlords ago, and shows no sign of changing. (N.Ireland)

One pub nearby is nicknamed 'the wounded knee', because of the high percentage of it's clientèle who where 'kneecapped' for anti-social behaviour during the 'troubles' in the 1970s.
Back to top Go down
Gilgamesh of Uruk
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1400
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Tue 14 Feb 2012, 20:15

Yes, pub names seem to be a thing apart. There are two others locally that most older local people would struggle to identify from their "official" names, as well as the one already cited
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2117
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: Why do bits of civilisation disappear?   Wed 15 Feb 2012, 05:27

It happens a lot here too, the ancient names for places will still used by locals and their modern names will only be used officially or by tourists. It never ceases to amaze me that a collective memory can last so long, despite a name change that may have occurred 100yrs ago or more.
Back to top Go down
 

Why do bits of civilisation disappear?

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of people ... :: Civilisation and Community-