Uninformed Comment

Bullshitting archaeologists

Posted in History, Humour, In the news, Old but cool by uninformedcomment on April 30, 2009

From today’s GuardianUnique Roman glass bowl found in east London grave

It was only when the archaeologists lifted the bowl delicately from the grave and the light shone right through – before it disintegrated into a mass of brilliantly coloured fragments – that they realised they had something extraordinary: a glorious Roman glass bowl, probably made in Alexandria almost 2,000 years ago, whose travels ended in a pit in east London…

“When we found it it was so unusual we really didn’t know what we’d got – I thought first it might be the edge of a piece of enamelled metal,” Guy Hunt, director of LP Archaeology, said. “It was only as we lifted it clear from the soil and the light shone right through it that we knew. Then it fell to pieces, which was a bit of a bad moment.”

Complete bullshit.  I know, I’m a parent, and I’ve heard it all before: “honest, Dad I didn’t touch it, it just broke all by itself!”

Well, I’ll give you “a bad moment”, young archaeologist!  Off to your room with you, and there’s no pocket money for you until you’ve saved up enough for a new 2,000-year-old Roman glass bowl!  That’ll teach you to play with priceless artifacts!  Or rather, it’ll teach you not to!  Which is more to the point!

Actually, I was puzzled by the description of the glass in the bowl:

… made by the millefiori – thousand flowers – technique. Tiny brilliantly coloured glass rods were fused together, then sliced across like Brighton rock and fused again to form the vessel.

For foreign readers, “Brighton rock”, as well as being the title of a Graham Greene novel, refers to a type of cheap confection which comes in long cylinders with a bright outer coating and is associated with seaside holidays.  It’s more famous for having lettering extruded into it, giving a message which runs right through the tube,  but that’s not important right now.  “Brighton rock” is actually a bit of a misnomer, since it can equally be associated with any seaside resort, such as Blackpool, Scarborough, and so on.  It’s not a good analogy in this case, so forget all the uninformed comment of mine.

So anyway, I started looking on Google Images to see what “millefiori” glass looks like, and I’m delighted to say that it’s actually quite interesting, considering I have very little interest in glass ornaments.  A vase, a ring, an ashtray (well, perhaps not), a closeup.  Unsurprisingly, there’s a Wikipedia article about the stuff.

Anyway, it looks pretty complicated, and it must have taken those Romans absolutely ages to make, so here’s a message to all you archaeologists out there:

  • When you find another piece of 2,000-year-old millefiori glass, don’t play with it, give it to an adult straight away
  • And if you do play with it, don’t lie about it afterwards; that just makes it worse
  • And if you do lie about it, don’t expect to see any pocket money for the next few decades

I hope that settles things.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: