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Old 03-01-2012, 05:36 PM   #1
Annalaliath
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Pipe Intellectual hooliganism topic: Middle Earth Archaeology

So on this windy day, a day that I have forgotten my computer and must use my phone to post this, I have decided to start a topic about Archaeology in Middle Earth. This idea came about as I was attending my university's Hobbit Society moot. We were discussing what topics we may choose to write a paper on for our event Intellectual Hooliganism. I had suggested a wildly different topic during the meeting, but later as I was conversing with my buddy Renee afterwards about it. The topic of Middle Earth Archaeology popped into my head as we were walking on Cornell to Renee's car. It has been a topic that has obsessed me for a week or two now. As the deadline for submissions is the 30th I have no hope to get it in this year, but maybe next.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on this topic. Also some suggested reading might be in order

Ps I will probably edit this when I get home and can properly see the post. Remember Blackberry phones have tiny screens.
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Old 03-01-2012, 05:52 PM   #2
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I don't think there was any archaeology done in ME, with the possible exception of the "good guys" digging in the ruins of Thangorodrim and Barad-dur after their respective falls.

However, there's lots of room for "what ifs". What if the Belegaer evaporated? What would people find on the grounds of Beleriand and Numenor?

And Rivendell could boast a hoard of ancient items.

Maybe you could write about what people of today would discover if they fell upon Middle-Earthian objects? (eg choose some famous things that, once found, would open a world of ME to the archaeologists - like, f.ex., an Elven cloak would tell people that the Elves were skilled in crafts, secretive, probably other stuff).
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:44 AM   #3
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Yep, I think maybe a bit more clear definition of what would you actually expect us to talk about here might be in order.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I don't think there was any archaeology done in ME, with the possible exception of the "good guys" digging in the ruins of Thangorodrim and Barad-dur after their respective falls.
What? Good guys digging in Thangorodrim and Barad-dur? You sure you don't mean the bad guys? Why would the good guys get near such places if they didn't have to? Noo.

I can imagine some sort of archaeology more like from e.g. the Dúnadan side, "look, this used to be Fornost, you think we can find the King's Toothbrush there?" But the problem is, most of the important stuff was carried along (e.g. all the royal items like the Scepter of Annúminas, Ring of Barahir etc. were preserved by the Dúnedain in this case), and the ruins of all cities, I get the impression, were rather "revered" than "picked". In other words, I get the feeling archaeology would, in M-E, almost fall into something not as positive, along the lines of "he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom". Old ruins are supposed to be looked at with longing over the lost past, but that's it.

It brings me down to two kinds of people who would likely be into archaeology - or maybe three, the third being Dwarves, though in their case it isn't probably archaeology in the proper sense: simply going back to Moria and trying to find Thráin's Ring and similar stuff. The two kinds of people who would be genuinely interested in what we call archaeology today would be (especially late) Númenoreans and (late) Gondorians, trying to "revive the old glory" by trying to dig in the past (but in a rather vain attempt, it seems to me), and Saruman (whose search for the Ring in Gladden fields *is* archaeology, and I am sure his search for knowledge involved much more. For example I am rather sure he must have been probably the only person to ever have searched Ost-in-Edhil for some random minor Rings or tools or recipes for them, because again, the other good guys most likely didn't even think about it).

Oh, and then Gollum. He is pretty much described as being interested in such stuff: Yet again, it is with a slight negative overtone (the last sentence).
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Shadow of the Past
The most inquisitive and curiousminded of that family was called Sméagol. He was interested in roots and beginnings; he dived into deep pools; he burrowed under trees and growing plants; he tunnelled into green mounds; and he ceased to look up at the hilltops, or the leaves on trees, or the flowers opening in the air: his head and his eyes were downward.
But when it comes to "hoards of ancient items", they were usually preserved by the original owner's descendants (or companions, or wardens, or whatever) from the very beginning, so there was no archaeology involved, or then guarded by some dragons, trolls etc. So it was a matter of slaying the guardians and opening their (still used) lockers. No digging involved in either case.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:43 AM   #4
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This is a toughie. I can think of several times and places in ME where people might have good reasons to do archeological stuff, but at the same time I can see several objections, even under those circumstances. The first good reason someone could offer is that, since the general consecus with ME is that the "tech" diminshed with time (i.e. those things made in the past were invariably better and more wonderous than anything we can make in the present) it makes anything made in the past inherently valuable, and worth recovering if it is lost. It is true that a lot of the stuff that was always important was simply taken along by each group as they moved. However the tech skew in ME seem so hight that by the thrid age, a lot of stuff that would not be particualry valued in the first, and would be seen as day to day (and hence possibly, not worth taking along) would suddenly be considered valuable enough to search for. For example I can imagine someone digging up Eregion (either men from the top of the ground, or dwarves digging under from Moria (we don't know defintive that every tunner the dwarf dug, or might have dug in the years following the ring wars, would neccecarily be confined to the mountain itself) in the simple hope of finding a few of those glowing lamp jewels Feanor made (they seem to have been treated like pretty ordinary lanterns at the time, so some may have been left behind). Likewise, had Darkness returned in the Fourth age (say if The Return of the Shadow had actually occured) I can easily seeing Gondor,in desperation with it's lack of elves or wizards to assist it, sending men to excavate Cardolan's ruins in the hope of finding any of the Cardolan weapons that have unusualy effacacy against the agents of darkness (like the knives the hobbits were given). This might very well include also, with Bombadil's permission (not that they really would need it, or he would hesitate to give it) opening all of the Barrowdowns Barrows, since that is the one place where they would know weapons were around (and would have the added bonus of making sure the mounds stayed wight free, should whatever evil around become powerful enough to send spirits to re-occupy them. And if someone came to Gondor and told the kind that while diving in the Anduin (maybe for fish, or shellfish) he saw where the Osgiliath stone was sitting (i.e. it was still at the bottom of the Anduin itself, as opposed to having rolled along the bottom out to sea). I have little doubt attempts would be made to retrieve it, even if it meant something so massive as damming the Anduin temporarily. However all of these would also have the same objection. There is running through ME a concept that it is not just the tech that has dimished, it is the people as well. Unless the weavings of fate bring such ancient items to you inadvertantly, there might be the concept that it is wrong to go looking for them. You don't have them because you are no longer worthy of them.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:06 AM   #5
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Actually I was thinking about a future culture doing the Archaeology in Middle Earth. I think I have to figure out the natural forces at work there and where good preservation would happen. Textiles generally don't preserve well. Those that do are under special circumstances. Those conditions that do lend to the preservation of the perishable materials such as bone, textiles, skins, wood, flesh, and other such things tend to be in an extreme of a kind. Permanently waterlogged, dry, cold and dry, frozen, or caves. Caves are great! I love caves.

edit: First you have to go out and do some survey. I also understand that Archaeology is a destructive science. That is why we pick and choose very carefully which sites we dig, because once it is dug all the prevariance is gone. Also, I am not talking about LOOTING, and I am assuming that the future culture is very similar to ours, with similar technologies.

Basically using modern technique to do the archaeology of Middle Earth. I also understand how the older cultures would see the old places as sacred, and there probably might be people in the new culture that would feel that way. There would have to be laws, and also a code of ethics.

Sorry for the rant.
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Old 03-02-2012, 04:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
What? Good guys digging in Thangorodrim and Barad-dur? You sure you don't mean the bad guys? Why would the good guys get near such places if they didn't have to? Noo.
When they "laid bare the foundations" (or something that means this - I'm quoting from memmory) I assume they would actually go and destroy the foundations. The first time the Valar fought Morgoth they did not destroy Utumno completely. But they did so with Angband, iirc. Imagine what skeletons they found in the cells. Oooh, this one looks like a triceratops! And this one is definitely a meat eater - probably an allosaurus!...



Annalaliath: why don't you do some underwater digging in Numenor? It would have been permanently covered in water since the Downfall, it had some stone buildings so I'm sure not everything perished...

Or you could go exploring into the caves of the Goblins of the Misty Mountains... oh, well, bad guys again. Sorry.

Preservation, though... If you're looking at frozen, it's the Helcaraxe, or the Forochel. But the Helcaraxe was destroyed, at least partially, when Beleriand sank. Though if it didn't I bet you'd be able to find lots of dead Elves and some of the things they brought with them - The SIl mentions a few.

If you consider dry, that's Gorgoroth (more bad guys) and Harad (even more bad guys). Though you might want to search for Sam's pots and pans in Mordor.

Caves would be the Dwarven Kingdoms and the Goblin passages, both already mentioned.


I guess you just have to pick a certain region and think what objects could be found there, based on the people and the conditions.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:26 PM   #7
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it depends on the material and the kind of waterlogged. Also, if this is far in the future of Middle Earth, wouldn't the cultures change a lot? Some of those old places of evil men may have changed. Again, the guys doing the digging could be a bit like Indiana Jones... and that opens up a whole can of ethics worms.

The place I'd be interested in would be the Dead Marshes. I wonder if they would still be marshes or would have changed over time. mmmm.
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Old 03-02-2012, 05:34 PM   #8
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The place I'd be interested in would be the Dead Marshes. I wonder if they would still be marshes or would have changed over time. mmmm.
Oh that one's a treasure!

But then Gollum says that he couldn't touch the dead there. So are they really there?

The mention of Indiana Jones made me think of the Paths of the Dead. What secrets do you think they hold?
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