This Delightful Archaeological Dig Proves We Know Nothing

“Archaeologists Are Finding Woodstock Really Did Take On Life of Its Own”

Yes, you read that right: “Woodstock” and archaeology in the same sentence.

Imagine how fun it would be to excavate Woodstock.

There are people still alive who were there. There are documents and maps and photographs. We know what the purpose of the gathering was and how many days it lasted. We know what to expect.

Nevertheless, the article includes this line:

“By examining surface vegetation and rocks in the area, now covered in forest, the team was able to identify 24 booth sites and 13 other ‘cultural features’ that were made by people, but whose function is not known.”

On a dig at a site that is just 50 years old, still in living memory, there are man-made features whose function is not known.

So many things to speculate about here. Are the structures additional snack booths? Port-a-Johns? First Aid tents? Opium dens? Bases for journalists or event security? Hideouts built by parents who were checking up on their children? Just really big and elaborate tents made by unusually enterprising attendees?

Further speculation. What if this site were 1,000 years old? 5,000 years? What if we didn’t know exactly how old it was? What if we weren’t sure whether it had been used annually for 500 years by 1,000 people or once, for three days, by 400,000? What if it were a refugee camp, a religious gathering, or some sort of pagan orgy? Perhaps we would find the names of the gods and goddesses who were worshiped here. (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead. The latter were probably entities less like gods and more like the Valkyries or the Furies, though in this case they seem to have been male.)

What if Herodotus had told us a little something about this gathering, though he only heard about it third-hand and didn’t seem to know much about it, and we are not even sure this is the same one he meant?

Please, speculate a little more in the comments. Go wild.

14 thoughts on “This Delightful Archaeological Dig Proves We Know Nothing

      1. No, just picky.

        An archaeological “dig” means a site. At least, that’s how I was using it.
        Maybe they don’t have to dig very deep, but it sounds like they have to clear some trees and bushes. And the remains of the booths they are finding are, I believe, just marks on the ground in the form of a different kind of soil or vegetation that shows there was once a structure there.

        I said “Hmmph” because pouncing on the word “dig” felt like you were correcting my grammar. I guess that’s what I get for ranting about “begs the question.”

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      2. Sorry if I was rude. I don’t have my laptop today and I was a lazy with my cellphone thumbs.
        The point I wanted to make was, “It’s not fair to say how little we know about recent sites unless we dig.”

        They will know much more about the site if they uncover items in the soil.

        I was recently at an archeological museum and there was a display of harmonica parts that were found around old campfire sites.

        Which begs the question, “Will Jimi Hendrix’s long lost harmonica be found at the Woodstock site?”

        Phew. I better go rest these thumbs.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. OK, fair enough. It does matter whether they dig. They could yet find something under the 13 mysterious structures that elucidates their purpose.

        My point was more that when they do find something, what it was used for is mostly a matter of interpretation … even when a contemporaneous map exists. But actually, I have a lot of respect for this project precisely because part of what they are discovering and reporting on is that the actual site is different from what was “known” about it.

        That example about finding harmonicas around fires is charming, yet disturbing. Who would just leave their harmonica?

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      4. It is a pretty interesting project. I’ve seen people combing concert venues here with metal detectors after a big show, so there must be a fair amount of good stuff falling from concert-goers’ pockets.
        I see your point as well. I wonder if anyone has ever forensically built a 3D model from the photographs they do have.

        Not sure about the harmonicas. It was actually the metal reed from inside a harmonica that survived, but it was weird to see so many. Maybe they were used in trade between the First Nations people and the Europeans. I guess when at a museum, I should not only look at the artifacts, but read some of the plaques.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I went to a museum recently, and diligently watched the informational video. Here is what it said: “We don’t really know anything about this.” 😀

        I never thought of harmonicas being taken apart to trade the parts. I had pictured a bunch of hobos sitting around having a firelit jam session, then getting in to a big brawl, and harmonicas are scattered.

        I’d make a great archaeologist.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. I don’t think they were taken apart. I think the reed was made of a more robust metal that was resistant to the elements.

        Your hobo theory is as good as any I have heard about how they built the pyramids! Keep up the good work.

        Liked by 1 person

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