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Il mio scavo

Che cosa fa un archeologo sullo scavo?

A seconda del sito oggetto di ricerca, del numero di settimane a disposizione, del luogo in cui si trova il cantiere, del tipo di intervento (di ricerca o di emergenza) ecc… le risposte possono variare, e di molto.

Queste sono le attività che ho svolto nelle 4 settimane appena concluse a Vignale (16 settembre – 11 ottobre):

  • 1 sondaggio con 30 US scavate
  • 500 foto circa inserite nell’archivio fotografico dello scavo
  • 5 appunti video registrati su 2 aree di scavo
  • 1 visita guidata del sito in inglese ad una famiglia di turisti svizzeri
  • 1 cortometraggio girato
  • 1 lezione a scuola dai bambini di quinta elementare
  • 1 spot girato con i bambini sullo scavo
  • 1 visita guidata a bambini di quarta elementare
  • 3 timelapse realizzati
  • 2 puntate radio in cui sono stato ospite
  • 18 foto caricate sulla pagina Facebook
  • 1 post scritto sul blog dello scavo
  • attività varie legate ad apertura e chiusura del cantiere

Leggendo questo elenco si può notare come le attività che si svolgono in un cantiere archeologico universitario siano molto varie. A Vignale si dà particolare importanza alla comunicazione con il pubblico e in effetti la maggioranza dei punti riportati vi è strettamente legata (9/13).

Spot Bambini a Vignale

Lo scavo è l’attività principale intorno a cui ruotano tutte le altre e senza cui tutte le altre non potrebbero aver luogo. La mia prima campagna di scavo a Vignale risale al 2007, avevo 21 anni, e da allora ho visto nascere e sono stato protagonista di questo modo di vivere lo scavo.

Mi resta difficile concepire uno scavo in cui l’unica attività che si fa è scavare.

Non sopporto quando passando accanto ad uno scavo in corso non riesco ad ottenere alcuna informazione, magari perché gli archeologi non mi degnano di uno sguardo, perché non c’è alcun pannello o, peggio ancora, perché c’è una rete altissima che “protegge” l’area di scavo.

Sono colmo di gioia e un po’ orgoglioso quando sento che i bambini di quinta elementare, dopo vari incontri con gli archeologi di Vignale nel corso degli anni, non chiedono più se scaviamo dinosauri ma rispondono in modo corretto a domande a cui persone più grandi non saprebbero dare risposta o ne darebbero delle più assurde (per le risposte assurde leggere questo recente post per credere).

Se in pochi sanno dire cosa fa un archeologo su uno scavo la colpa è principalmente degli archeologi che in passato non lo hanno raccontato. Sono tre anni che si celebra il “Day of Archaeology“, in cui ogni archeologo racconta una giornata di lavoro in un blog post, ma pochi italiani ne hanno preso parte; se la lingua inglese è un deterrente, allora facciamolo in italiano!

Che ne dite di scrivere anche voi un elenco, qui come commento o su un vostro blog? E’ veloce e devo dire che dà anche soddisfazione vedere scritto che cosa si è fatto in una campagna di scavo! Anche da un piccolo esperimento penso possano uscire elementi interessanti su cui riflettere.

L’hashtag giusto è sicuramente #ilmioscavo.

Aspetto di vedere i vostri elenchi!

After Vignale: editing videos and videos…

A week after the end of the Vignale 2012 excavation season it’s time to think about what I recorded in the site.

Although I had some logistic problems in the first weeks of work, I’ve managed to shoot what I had planned before the excavation. As the last year, I tried to recorded videos for three, different scopes:

  • communication of the fieldwork activities;
  • a narrative about our main themes of research in a docudrama;
  • a new video-narrative experiment.

Recording videos needs a large amount of time and editing them even more. So, once come back home, I had to plan which video edit first. This depends on many things but this year I began with the first footage. It’s a video about what we did on the fieldwork (as those of 2011), I can’t publish it next year!

The docudrama can wait because it needs an extra work. This year I’m trying to put together docudrama and 3D reconstruction and I’m going to spend a lot of time on this.

The video-narrative experiment needs an extra-work too, but I’m going to show it at TAG 2012 in Liverpool next December, so I have to begin to work on it as soon as possible. For this video I took photos in order to create a time-lapse. Alessandro, the archaeologist who was under my camera, at the beginning was quite astonished about what I was doing but, all in all, he trusted me and went on his work as if I wasn’t above him.

Recording videos in Vignale

After planning my video-work for the weeks until Christmas, it’s time to keep on editing the first video. Mirko, Nadia and Martina are waiting to see themselves on the screen.

Recording Videos at Vignale – Part II

The other side of my video-recording activity is the usual production of an archaeofiction. The other archaeologists ask me for it because of the success of the past three years.

All in all, I have to admit that, after three years of docudrama, I thought to do something different. So the first two weeks of excavation flew in quest of new ideas until, while I was recording the usual video documentation, the professor talked about a possibility of reconstruction of the late antique period of the mansio. In that moment I ran away with I could put together the professor’s ideas and their re-enactment in the same footage. Obviously, the re-enactment would contain not-archeologically verifiable elements, as in the other archaeofiction, but plausible anyway.

I think there are some points of interest in doing it:

  • first of all, I can put together research and communication, as it’s greatly suggested by Shanks:  “I argue that a new understanding of media as the work of mediation and as modes of engagement, and the proposed reevaluation of some issue of information science in relation to archaeology, puts media(tion) at the heart of our disclipline and requires us to reject this distinction between primary research and secondary dissemination.”  (Shanks, M. (2007). “Politics of Archaeological Leadership”. Archaeology and the Media. Walnut Creek);
  • it’s part of the archaeological knowledge process: I wrote a script and doing it I took part in the process of interpretation from the narrative side. I invented a plausible story that can contain elements that can stimulate a larger consideration.

There are also some drawbacks:

  • Interpretations can change many times during an excavation. So, the script has to change with it. This is not a problem, rather it would be another great idea to re-enact every, single interpretation in order to have a video that represents the whole knowledge process.
  • The excavation ended two weeks ago but I haven’t still finished the editing of the footage. Unfortunately it requires a great amount of time, and I have to dig, I can’t stay in front of the computer editing videos all the day. So, the potential immediacy of the communication fails for the moment. It’s only a matter of organization, I can resolve it recording in the first weeks of the excavation campaign.

From the excavation, through the interpretation, until its re-enactment in a video: it seems to me to be a good idea.

I want to use footages recorded for the video documentation in the part settled in the present. So, no script, only true archaeological documentation. I wrote the script using these videos and I reconstructed in this way my own interpretation. On the contrary, for the scenes settled in the V century AD, I continued the tradition of the past years with the docudrama: so we found stage costumes, weapons and every objects that can help in making real the scenes without spending money.

The director gives indications to the actors

The director gives indications to the actors

Currently, I try to edit the whole video in a way that can succeed in conveying this passage from excavation to re-enactment. I hope I manage to finish it in a short time. Stay tuned!

Recording videos at Vignale – Part I

It’s just a week since I came back home. The excavation at Vignale ended on 15th of October and I have very satisfied of this 2011 campaign.

As the other years, I could experiment something new about video in archaeology: the main effort of this year has been the communication of our work outside the fence of the excavation area and, as usual, I gave my part recording some videos. More precisely, I recorded three videos. Each one has the goal of giving some information about the progress of the work in the three main excavation areas of the site.

All these videos are organized in the same way – effectively I thought they could be part of a series: at the beginning and to conclude the footage there are some images of archaeologists at work while in the middle is developed the main topic of each video, a sort of account of the excavation progress.

A snapshot of a footage

A snapshot of a footage

Nothing exceptional but just carrying out this activity I could notice some new interesting aspects of recording at the fieldwork:

  • first of all, if you want to produce a footage with images of archaeologists at work, you need a person who records these images. This person needs to spend time recording images moving around the excavation area and has to do it in the best moments of the day for recording, that is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This means that this person can’t help other archaeologists in other fieldworks because he is doing his work. Communication begins on the excavation, so the director needs time to record, that is the first stage. Even for a three minute footage the amount of images is high;
  • at the beginning the major part of the new archaeologists were surprised of seeing me standing up and recording images. All in all, they were reluctant to speak in front of the camera. However, in a short time they saw this situation as normal and the partecipation in this project increased radically;
  • how to tell what they were doing is another interesting topic: the first times, they began to talk as they usually do for an exam, using academic vocabulary and a complicated syntax. So I had to stop them and give some advice. After this step, all of them noticed that is easier to speak in this way in front of a camera rather than in front of a professor during an exam!
  • recording and editing videos for a wider public is more enjoyable than managing the video-documentation of the excavation!

Videos and words of this 2011 excavation at Vignale are available in Italian at http://www.uominiecoseavignale.it