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sovietmcdavid t1_j8y797v wrote

A lot of these are well known and documented "tells", large mounds known to cover ruins, ziggurats, cities, etc.

Often, they are left alone because exposing them to the elements can ruin the site. South and Central america have untold amounts of these "hills" in the jungle as well covering all kinds of ancient ruins


Initial_Cellist9240 t1_j8yso98 wrote

Ireland too! It’s really interesting how we have to strike a balance between continuing research, and preventing disturbance for future generations that may have access to better information tools and techniques


weaponizeddonut t1_j8zi47x wrote

Hope I'll be still alive when they excavated Qin Shi Huang's tomb


Jindabyne1 t1_j8zqtd4 wrote

Was he Irish?


Real_Jackraps t1_j90jeu5 wrote

No, he was very contentious.


surle t1_j90ynmb wrote

The two aren't mutually exclusive though


Real_Jackraps t1_j90zm52 wrote

I don't know if or who ruined Scotland, but whoever they are, they're a contentious bunch!


Jindabyne1 t1_j911czm wrote

That was the Chinese iirc


Real_Jackraps t1_j9133r1 wrote

No, they thought it was the dolphins but it was actually secret mission by the chickens and cows.


FreshMull t1_j94wj7z wrote

chicken and cow use dolphin and whale as a scapegoat!? This is outrage!


Pilgrim_of_Reddit t1_j8zjtp7 wrote

> Hope I’ll be still alive when they excavated Qin Shi Huang’s tomb

That was excavated last week. You still alive?


dusmeyedin t1_j8zzppj wrote

No, they left the imperial resting place untouched because they don't know how to preserve it if it's exposed to the elements.

They've partially opened up some of the buried statues, but they immediately started to lose their coloring as the paint fades on exposure.


Pilgrim_of_Reddit t1_j90ij88 wrote

You are correct. But the whole thing is a tomb, buried statues and all.

Amazing photograph of when statues were first uncovered.


dusmeyedin t1_j9185un wrote

The terminology might be a bit confusing. The Qin mausoleum is a fairly large complex that mimics the layout of the old capital city Xianyang. There are many structures in this complex, including the resting place of the emperor himself, and the outer armies statues and other ceremonial structures.

Archeologists distinguish between the emperor's tomb, which is the resting place of his body, vs the rest of the complex, which is generally called the mausoleum or the necropolis.

They have excavated parts of the necropolis and seen the damage this caused, and so they have not excavated the emperor's actual tomb. There's a whole half of the necropolis which they are unwilling to touch because they don't know what their archeological process will do to it - contemporary reports said that Qin had a relief terrain map of the whole empire set up with liquid mercury filling in for the rivers and lakes. Modern excavation techniques are still not up to the task of preserving this.

The commenter you responded to might have been using that distinction: they hope to see some day when our science is advanced enough to examine Qin's personal resting place, amidst all its riches and ceremonial finery, without destroying it.


libginger73 t1_j92itju wrote

And there was a moat of mercury buried as well. So that's probably a bit dangerous.


Putnum t1_j92mekm wrote

Hope I'll be still alive to say I'm from a future generation


maaku7 t1_j907s7l wrote

They never will. I guarantee you it has been grave robbed and they’ll keep it undug to prevent knowledge of that fact.


an_actual_lawyer t1_j8zn6nu wrote

Can ground penetrating radar help or is the resolution just not good enough.


Hakairoku t1_j90xd4k wrote

Same reason why cops shouldn't be messing with crime scenes


crimedog69 t1_j8ytc24 wrote

If we never see what’s inside then why does it matter if they stay intact?


Bentresh t1_j8yx42m wrote

They'll be excavated eventually, but it takes decades if not centuries to fully excavate a major site like Girsu. Babylon has been excavated for over a century, but only about 3% of the Neo-Babylonian levels have been excavated (and virtually nothing of the Old/Middle Babylonian levels has yet been uncovered).

Archaeologists choose where and what to dig based on their research questions, usually after surveying a site and (when possible) mapping it with techniques like ground-penetrating radar. If you are interested in early glass production, for example, you are going to focus on excavating crafts workshops from the Middle Bronze Age rather than, say, tombs and houses from the Neo-Assyrian period.


Helix014 t1_j8yzyr1 wrote

Yeah. The reality is archeology is very slow, expensive, done by a small number of highly experienced/trained researchers, in a small area at one time. They focus on what they know they will find rather than destructive treasure hunting like Scliemann.


Ripcord t1_j8zxh1o wrote

But according to Time Team, you only get 3 days for these projects.


gwizone t1_j8zzhoo wrote

I laughed way too hard at this. Watched every ep on YouTube during the pandemic and was amazed by the sheer number of Roman artifacts spread throughout the English countryside. You can’t walk a mile without tripping over a piece of Roman pottery, caldinium, or tesserae.


maaku7 t1_j9084wz wrote

Time Team was responsible for something crazy like 25% or 50% of British archeology while it was under production. It being cancelled was actually quite a blow to British archeology.


BenMottram2016 t1_j90iafp wrote

You know it has resurrected itself don't you? Patreon/crowd funded.


randathrowaway1211 t1_j900vzk wrote

Why does it take so long to excavate an archaeological site?


Bentresh t1_j90229y wrote

It’s just a very slow process. Every step has to be documented in careful detail (mapped, photographed, recorded, etc.), every bucket of dirt has to be sifted with a mesh screen for small finds, any architecture has to be articulated (i.e. the dirt between stones is removed carefully and slowly), and so on. It’s not uncommon to dig down only about 20-30 cm a day.

I've been working in the same 10x10 meter square for about a decade, and we haven't even gotten out of the Iron Age levels, with the Bronze Age and earlier levels still untouched. Multiply that square by 800-1000 and you get a sense of how long it takes to excavate the citadel of a standard mound (~8-10 hectares), to say nothing of the sprawling lower town!

Additionally, many excavations only run for a couple of months a year. Partly this is because of weather and seasonal rain patterns, but it’s also because archaeologists and hired diggers have other obligations during the rest of the year (typically teaching or museum work for archaeologists and farming/agriculture for local workers).


randathrowaway1211 t1_j90tvlz wrote

What are the qualifications needed by someone who isn't an archaeologist to get a job on a digsite? What sort of duties do the locals perform?


Bentresh t1_j92aigw wrote

It depends where one wants to dig. Excavations in some countries like Greece and Israel regularly take volunteers with no dig experience, whereas it’s very difficult to join a dig in Iraq even as an archaeologist. The AIA fieldwork opportunities page is a good place to start.

Local workers are usually hired for digging.

  • The square is excavated from north to south using shovels, pickaxes, or hoes. Usually only a 5 or 10 cm layer is removed at a time, since you want to be able to quickly identify any changes in soil texture or material culture indicating that you’ve moved from one period of occupation into an earlier one.

  • All of this dirt is shoveled into buckets (guffa in Arabic), and the buckets are loaded into wheelbarrows.

  • Each of the buckets is dumped into the sifter and examined for bones, seals and seal impressions, beads, potsherds, and other small objects.

  • The square is swept clean after completing a pass so that it can be photographed.

  • Any architecture (stone or mudbrick) or statuary we come across is articulated. This is usually done with a trowel and a stiff brush.

Typically each square has one or two archaeologists and three or four workers. I like to get down and dirty and dig as much as possible too, but a lot of my time has to be spent doing paperwork (mapping the square, packaging and labeling artifacts we find, recording details about soil color and texture, etc.).

Additionally, a couple of local villagers are hired to cook meals and wash pottery.


NotSureWTFUmean t1_j95hvw0 wrote

Willingness to be attacked by mummies, endure curses, be first in line for spike traps, rolling boulders, swinging blades etc


AWholeMessOfTacos t1_j90eapm wrote

Guy spends his whole life digging around your big toe, he’s going to remember you.


zaque_wann t1_j8yu08l wrote

Better tech in the future that may allow for better information extraction and analysis.


JunkoBig t1_j8zvy6g wrote

What do you mean by "tells"? Coincidentally "tel" is the Arabic word for "hill".


sunshinersforcedlaug t1_j906298 wrote

> hill

Yes, hills made of the remains of a building or city.

>Coincidentally "tel" is the Arabic word for "hill".

Not a coincident :)


OarsandRowlocks t1_j90gg00 wrote

I wonder if it means something similar in Hebrew.


JunkoBig t1_j92ai39 wrote

That makes a lot of sense. I'm assuming that the word went from Arabic to Spanish, then to the new world where it was applied to ziggurat-hills?


[deleted] t1_j92d8ze wrote



JunkoBig t1_j92dmbx wrote

I know the origin of ziggurat, I just meant the curious use of "tell" to refer to such hills, and its purported Arabic origin. After checking Wikipedia it actually seems to have made it to English directly from Arabic.


AidilAfham42 t1_j91ofjo wrote

Were they deliberately buried or was that just nature taking over?