“History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.” – Robert Penn Warren
“Archaeology!? How will digging in the dirt better the world?” Exclamations such as these are something that I, as a student of archaeology, have heard all too often; second only to the dreaded, “Archaeology!? What are you going to do with that?!” The short answer is, archaeology can better the world. In fact it already has. Let me explain…
As a student of history and archaeology, I love old things. Frankly, the older, the better. But while students and scholars of my area of study are sometimes accused of ‘living in the past,’ I believe that, at their heart, our studies show us how to live in the present and move forward into the future. Archaeologists may study material artifacts, and historians may read texts, but what the humanities truly reveal is something so important that it can be found in their collective name: humanities. The study of the humanities is the study of people, and while these people may have lived thousands of years ago, they still lived and loved, suffered and grieved, worshipped and rejoiced, much in the same way that we do today. People are people, and always have been, no matter when or where they live their unique lives. Despite being separated by vast amounts of time, space, and cultural differences, the people of the past still speak to us, and more than that, we can relate to them. In so doing, those who came before us remind us of our common humanity; in a world which all too often focuses on differences, the humanities remind us of the human nature which unites us all.
The purpose of this blog is therefore to showcase the many ways in which archaeology, history, and the humanities at large look to the past in order to help shape a better future. It aims to serve as a platform where various projects, articles, concepts, ideas, and musings related to archaeology and history are brought together to explore the collective human experience, break down boundaries and assumptions, and remind us all of our common humanity.
Because, in the brilliant words of Martin Luther King Jr., “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”