ArchDiggers Manifesto

Front page of first ArchDiggers site

Introduction statement from first the ArchDiggers site

“My aim … was to provide an alternative view of diggers to the back of the head normally reproduced in most archaeological texts. I should say at once that there are many good archaeological photographers out there and sometimes you do have to photograph the backs of peoples heads however this project is my attempt to redress the balance and show some of the ‘faces’ involved in archaeology. Since becoming involved in archaeology I have consumed quantities of archaeological literature. The publications sometimes contained superb examples of site photography and sometimes appalling ones but for a discipline that is concerned with documenting humankinds activities it seemed to have forgotten to record itself. There were always the odd shots of people poised over some interesting find, diggers being used as human scales or the occasional end of dig team shot but very little documentary work to record the people who do the excavation.

Initially I tried following in the traditional style of documentary work however I found that the resulting images tended to illustrate an event or mood rather than the diggers themselves. Whilst working on site at Essendon in 1993 I tried a change of approach to the subject and adopted a more portrait style of recording somewhat influenced by the work of August Sanders and others. Finding that the results matched my desired aim of ‘showing the face’ of archaeological diggers I decided to continue the project in this vein whenever possible.

At first I had no outlet for my work other than showing them to friends and colleagues but in 1996 Hedley Swain (see Mirroring Reality section of site) arranged for some of the images to appear in the IFA journal The Archaeologist (Winter 1996 no 27), this led to further use of some of the images by the IFA and an exhibition of a selection of the prints at the Bournemouth T.A.G conference in 1996. Since then I have been gradually accumulating more images until I reached the point where I realised I would need to find some form of display if the images were to have any purpose, this decision led to the creation of the ArchDiggers website.”

Diggers in Time of Covid

Visits to sites has been greatly reduced during this period and diggers have had to put up with all sorts of restrictions particularly at the start of the crisis, whilst office staff started working from home, excavation continued although in a reduced form, travel to site began to take on the form of convoys, and staff ended up dispersed over the site at socially acceptable distances – tea breaks became outdoor picnics.

Tea break Len
Tea Break Sara
Tea break Al
Tea Break “Rampling”
Tea Break Lucy
Socially Distanced team photo

Orange PPE

Whilst being fully in favour of anything that makes our working enviroment safer I have to admit orange PPE drives me to despair, its not the fact that it reduces you to a bright orange blob on site but its the tonal qualities of the material used and how they reproduce in black and white (my preferred medium) – have a look at the following example.

Colour image without adjustments
Conversion to B&W without adjustments – reflective strips, skin tones and orange material nearly all match in tonality
Final result after nearly an hours work

Must Farm 2015-16

If you followed the link from the Must Farm diary page these are a few of the Must Farm “Archdiggers” images from the 2015-16 season of excavation, I’ll add a few images in the following days, there are also further images on Facebook and on Flickr – I’m still hoping to get the Archdiggers page re-launched but there are still problems in web design to iron out and a lack of time available.

https://www.facebook.com/Archdiggers/ https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivewebb/albums/72157691411933733

Archaeologist at Must Farm Yun Chiang
Yun Chiang
Archaeologist at Must Farm Aimee Adams-Johnston
Aimee Adams-Johnston
Archaeologist at Must Farm Daniel Warren
Dan Warren
Archaeologist at Must Farm Tony Baker
Tony Baker
Specialist Must Farm Clara Schonfeld
Clara Schonfeld
Specialist Must Farm Vida Rajkovaca
Vida Rajkovaca