Curiosity, or, Imagine discovering that

The topic prompt for the weekly photo challenge this week is curiosity.

The dictionary offers the following definition of the word: ‘Desire to know; inquisitiveness; strangeness; strange or rare object’.

I latched onto it immediately as I would like to think that curiosity is one of my main motivations.  I’m always wondering about things and asking questions and looking for the answers.

I find other people’s curiosity fascinating too; there is nothing more enjoyable than listening to someone knowledgeable talk fluently about their enthusiasm.  Archaeology has a particular appeal ; it’s not something I ever want to do myself, but the results of the work, the stories pieced together out of artefacts and the traces left behind by the long dead, are something that I devour.

It’s been a human impulse to build, throughout history, and in the trips I’ve been lucky enough to take over the years, I’ve been to see quite a few of the remains.  Quite often it’s the story of the discovery that is what sticks in my memory.

In Angkor Wat, during excavation of a wall that the archaeologists knew was there, they uncovered a parallel wall completely obscured by an outer shell.  Because it had been hidden in that way, the carvings had retained many of their details and were remarkably intact.

Most of the records of the excavations done in the 1960s were lost during the 1970s wars in Cambodia, so I have to rely on my imagination to construct a story of the excitement of the archaeologists who came across these reliefs unexpectedly.

But it’s not just archaeologists looking for things who find remains of the past.  According to the local folklore, the Villa del Casale, near Piazza Armerina in Sicily was discovered by a farmer ploughing his field.  The Villa contains some of the most extensive Roman mosaics remaining in Europe.

I can’t help but wonder if the farmer was excited about his find, or was it a nuisance when all he wanted to do was get his field ploughed and the crops planted.  How quickly did he alert the historians?  What happened to his harvest?  Or did he recognise the potential straight away, pack in the farming, and open the souvenir shop and the cafe  in the barn?

But imagine coming across something like this in fields you’d been cultivating for years.

Pair of Roman dumb bells, anyone?

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2 Comments

  1. margaret nickels

     /  February 15, 2011

    That is just what I always think about when a discovery is made on land which has been extensively cultivated for centuries! I find it amazing that stuff can take hundreds of years to re surface . Love the pics .

    Reply

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