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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.

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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 D˙nadan 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 Ann˙minas, Ring of Barahir etc. were preserved by the D˙nedain 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 Thrßin'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) N˙menoreans 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).
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The most inquisitive and curiousminded of that family was called SmÚagol. 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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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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Old 03-02-2012, 06:22 PM   #9
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They would hold scary things. lol. I need to read a few books.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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Oh that one's a treasure!

But then Gollum says that he couldn't touch the dead there. So are they really there?
That's a tough one, but my guess is "no".The Dead Marshes have some weird magic going on. The faces are described as "rotting" it think, but given the time that has passed, the faces in the dead marshes should be nothing but skeletons (if indeed still there at all). If the marsh is acidic and peaty, it could pickle the bodies but the water would likey then be too murky to see them. The faces are supposed to be mostly war graves as I recall (i.e. bodies that were actually buried, as opposed to simply left on the battle field). Even assuming that the modern "6 feet under" was practiced back then, the bodies would still be reachable by Gollum. Maybe not by simply sticking his hand in a pool, but Gollum, due to his long aquatic existance is (unlike normal hobbits) a good swimmer and diver; six feet would probably not trouble him much. If he says he can't reach them, they're probably illusions; or souls trapped in the land with all physical remnants rotted away, or Orc plundered (Orcs being orcs, I assume that if there was any good stuff left on the ground or in the graves,later orcs would have tramped in (maybe during the period before the marshes expanded, when the ground was still solid, and dug it all up. Orcs are not likey to respect burials).

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:37 PM   #11
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You're right about the orcs, but I'm not sure if there were actually enough of them out there before the marshes came. It all depends on when the water came - before Sauron declared himself in Mordor and started building up his power, or after that.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:12 PM   #12
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Personally, I've always wondered this: what was behind that door Brego died trying to open?
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:32 PM   #13
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Personally, I've always wondered this: what was behind that door Brego died trying to open?
It's for the Dead to know and for the Living to wonder.

And by the way, in The Passing of the Grey Company it says that the air in that cave was very dry, and that was why Brego's shape was still intact. This would be your perfect Indiana Jones archeology!
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Old 03-03-2012, 01:03 PM   #14
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Then I have to wonder, how much of the magic would still be around Middle Earth in a society contemporary to our own. Again, caves are great for preservation. I am wondering if I should pose some questions to Dr. Strauss my Archaeology instructor, would that just be too weird. " So, Dr. Strauss, how do you think Archaeology would work in Middle Earth?" ....
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:29 PM   #15
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Personally, I've always wondered this: what was behind that door Brego died trying to open?
That's Gandalf's "uncloaking room".

Really though, ME denizens didn't seem to have a lot of interest in digging in the ground or in old ruins for the sake of curiosity.

The Dwarves' interest in Moria was more a financial one, I think, connected to the mithril lode, though the tradition of the place was a draw too.

Men don't seem to care much at all. We don't see expeditions from Gondor to visit ruined Fornost or Amon Sűl, or even to wander through nearby Osgiliath, its former capital, without some sort of business driving them.

All in all, I see much more interest in the people from the past, as opposed to places. And that's mostly connected to family lineage, and whatnot.

As for the "modern" era finding Middle-earth ruins or artifacts, I think they'd probably look a lot like the things we find in reality. Tolkien said that scientific analyses of a "magical" item such as lembas would fail to reveal anything special about it, and I think the same would hold true for other things of Middle-earth.
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Old 03-03-2012, 10:10 PM   #16
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All in all, I see much more interest in the people from the past, as opposed to places. And that's mostly connected to family lineage, and whatnot.
Archaeology isn't about the stuff that is found, it is about understanding past peoples and cultures as best we can through the things they leave behind. Honestly we are like dumpster divers. Objects are objects, but the people who made them and used them are what's important.
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Old 03-03-2012, 10:15 PM   #17
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Old 03-06-2012, 05:32 PM   #18
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What lies beyond the door in the Paths of the Dead? Something that Men wanted to keep secret, somewhere that they were engaged in very dark and unpleasant things. This is from an issue of the journal Vinyar Tengwar, and one of my very favourite chilling passages in all of Tolkien's work:

Quote:
The special horror of the closed door before which the skeleton of Baldor was found was probably because the door was the entrance to an evil temple hall [of the same Men of Darkness to which the Oathbreakers presumably belonged] to which Baldor had come, probably without opposition up to that point. But the door was shut in his face, and enemies that had followed him silently came up and broke his legs and left him to die in the darkness, unable to find any way out.
I suspect that what lies in there could potentially be very interesting to an Middle-earth archaeologist but it could also be very unpleasant, and with a story attached to it like this, almost like a 'curse', who would want to go in there? It's a shame, as the way to the path under the mountain is clearly truly ancient, much more ancient than the Numenorean culture and part of the intriguing past of the Woses. Then other Men, with sinister intent came along and things changed. But it was once different, and I've said before that the whole description of this 'complex' reminds me of Avebury, West Kennet and the Sanctuary

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At each turn of the road there were great standing stones that had been carved in the likeness of men, huge and clumsy-limbed, squatting cross-legged with their stumpy arms folded on fat bellies. Some in the wearing of the years had lost all features save the dark holes of their eyes that still stared sadly at the passers-by. The Riders hardly glanced at them. The Pukel-men they called them, and heeded them little: no power or terror was left in them; but Merry gazed at them with wonder and a feeling almost of pity, as they loomed up mournfully in the dusk.
The Dead Marshes fascinate me for other reasons. These are like the meres and mosslands I grew up amongst, and which were once so much more extensive, forming England's biggest lake before the land was drained. Peat moss preserves bodies very well as seen by the 'bog bodies' that have been found, often sacrificial victims, and log boats used to be turned over by the farmers in the fields where I used to live, preserved there for centuries but falling to nothing as soon as they were exposed to the air (I imagine a weapon taken from the Dead Marshes might do the same). Nobody would wish to pass through the Dead Marshes if they could avoid it as they would be treacherous, and to add to this, the stories of fallen warriors tempting the unwary to their deaths would only add to the sense that this was a place to be avoided. In the world I know, Celia Fiennes took great care in 1698, during her horseback tour around England, to avoid Martin Mere as it was treacherous.

I think the third main place that intrigues me in Middle-earth would be the Barrow Downs of course. But the tales of wights would be enough I think to again put off any prospective archaeologists. That again is echoed in the real world as I don't think there can be many ancient monuments which come without an attached legend or cautionary tale.

This is probably why you don't hear much of archaeology in Middle-earth. The myths and folk tales are still in the reach of history and not in the far, distant past, and who would want to go poking about in a sinister temple or the site of a terrible battle that's also a treacherous mere when these stories were fully believed?
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Old 03-06-2012, 09:47 PM   #19
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I could see an excellent basis for a fan-fic plot of a modern-day archaeologist stumbling across subterranean ruins of a Middle-earth nature, and the subsequent peril unleashed by his/her find. Excellent, of course, in the right hands. Or the right writing, as it were.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:10 PM   #20
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I could see an excellent basis for a fan-fic plot of a modern-day archaeologist stumbling across subterranean ruins of a Middle-earth nature, and the subsequent peril unleashed by his/her find. Excellent, of course, in the right hands. Or the right writing, as it were.
I remember taking part in a fantastic RPG on here once which was about a hunt in the Ice Bay of Forochel for lost palantiri. I wish I still had the time, not least because I enjoyed creaing the characters and playing within the bounds of the canon, but my free time lately has been given over to hunting down old records of canal boatmen.

Still, it's 2012, what about those lost Notion Club Papers, eh?

If you ever have the chance to visit British megalithic sites, it's like stumbling upon some part of old Middle-earth. Not Stonehenge though, that's a bit noisy, I'm thinking more of the weirdness of Wayland's Smithy, Arbor Low or Chysauster.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:28 PM   #21
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
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If you ever have the chance to visit British megalithic sites, it's like stumbling upon some part of old Middle-earth. Not Stonehenge though, that's a bit noisy, I'm thinking more of the weirdness of Wayland's Smithy, Arbor Low or Chysauster.
I've been to many of Ireland's megalithic sites. Let me tell you, there is definitely an odd feeling one gets going down a tunnel deep into a tumulus that was delved by someone 4000-5000 years ago. The passage tomb at Knowth in particular. Barrow Wights indeed.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:48 PM   #22
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I've been to many of Ireland's megalithic sites. Let me tell you, there is definitely an odd feeling one gets going down a tunnel deep into a tumulus that was delved by someone 4000-5000 years ago. The passage tomb at Knowth in particular. Barrow Wights indeed.
Alan Lee was certainly onto something when he chose to base his sketches of the Barrows on Maes Howe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maes_Howe

These are all chambered tombs, but for a real creep out you should visit the west country. The Cornish fogou or 'creep' is probably one of the most sinister (yet strangely nice) things you can ever experience.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:52 PM   #23
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Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
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Alan Lee was certainly onto something when he chose to base his sketches of the Barrows on Maes Howe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maes_Howe

These are all chambered tombs, but for a real creep out you should visit the west country. The Cornish fogou or 'creep' is probably one of the most sinister (yet strangely nice) things you can ever experience.
We're planning a trip to Britain within the next couple years. I'll add that to the 4000 things already on the itinerary. I'll tell the wife she'll just have to cut short her shopping trip in London.
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Old 03-08-2012, 02:34 PM   #24
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We're planning a trip to Britain within the next couple years. I'll add that to the 4000 things already on the itinerary. I'll tell the wife she'll just have to cut short her shopping trip in London.
How to 'do' London: go from train to British Museum and see the best bits (Lindow Man, Dr John Dee's alchemical instruments and the shop); go to the Forbidden Planet Megastore and stock up on geek must-haves; go to Cabinet War Rooms and learn about the importance of carpet sizes to the Civil Service; visit Tate Britain; and leave before darkness falls. All the best stuff in Britain is well outside the Venetian city state that is London.
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Old 03-08-2012, 05:45 PM   #25
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Archaeology in the real world didn't get popular until the Victorian era. Did any of Middle Earth's society progress that far? Only the hobbits, and by nature they weren't a curious sort. So I don't think archaeology was popular east of the Sea.
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:27 PM   #26
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Archaeology in the real world didn't get popular until the Victorian era. Did any of Middle Earth's society progress that far? Only the hobbits, and by nature they weren't a curious sort. So I don't think archaeology was popular east of the Sea.
But what if you have a new "modern" culture that appears in ME out of the blue in, say, the 4th age. It doesn't matter how or why or who. It's like in the movie Aftermath: Population Zero, where they describe what would happen to Earth is all the human population would disappear for whatever reasons.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkMXhKj0D4w - that's the movie, if you're interested, and they describe the situation in the first 3 or so minutes)

So, if out of the blue there is a new civilization/culture on ME, with all its past inhabbitants gone, I think it's quite possible to have some archeology. If you looks at it from Aftermath's perspective, it doesn't matter if the civilization is extraterrestrial or a new invention of Aule's, you just have to get over the far-fetched-ness and acceot the "what-if fact" of it being there.
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Old 01-23-2014, 05:58 PM   #27
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Boots

Yay for dredging upld topics....

While waiting to toast the Professer this year a few of us from the UNM Hobbit Society started talking abkut archaeology in Middle Earth... Again. I never got around to writing the paper, school, and work happened instead.
Some of the topics that were brought up:
1. The people burried in the dead marshes, and the implications of living friends and family not wanting to have them dug up and studied.
2. Geology
3. With those that live so long, who cares about archaeology, you can talk to an eye witness...

But that would be sometime after the war of the ring, rathert han a futur society that might evolve later.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:17 AM   #28
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Eye People would still want to check

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Yay for dredging upld topics....

While waiting to toast the Professer this year a few of us from the UNM Hobbit Society started talking abkut archaeology in Middle Earth... Again. I never got around to writing the paper, school, and work happened instead.
Some of the topics that were brought up:
1. The people burried in the dead marshes, and the implications of living friends and family not wanting to have them dug up and studied.
2. Geology
3. With those that live so long, who cares about archaeology, you can talk to an eye witness...

But that would be sometime after the war of the ring, rather than a future society that might evolve later.
Regarding topic 3, I still think there would be people who would want to check on the accuracy of some of the eye witnesses' accounts. It's not that they believe that the relevant people lied; it's that the accuracy of their accounts might be affected by other factors. We see this in the growth of the discipline of battlefield archaeology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield_archaeology

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/humanit...ldarchaeology/

We can see this issue discussed on page 3 of a document on the discipline:

How this archaeological evidence is studied and more importantly, how it is interpreted, is of the greatest importance. It can and should be distinguished from the historical literary evidence, which is usually based on personal accounts of the event and is not always necessarily reliable. Few, if any of those at a scene of conflict, can give an accurate account of the entire event, as sites of conflict are by their very nature traumatic and confusing places. They also often cover large areas of ground. The observer might not even have known how large the conflict was, or how many casualties were taken on another part of the field. The larger picture of the conflict therefore depends upon a general overview and this was usually supplied by one of the leaders of one faction. Apart from the bias inherent in such a view, it also relies upon an interpretation of the event, rather than an objective account.

In order to gain a more accurate understanding of the event, such as its scale or the number of dead, an account should ideally be obtained from something or someone who would not provide, or profit from, a distorted version of it - someone who would provide a neutral viewpoint. Although on a practical level this could be done by analysing the residue - the concentrations of artefacts left on the ground after the conflict - on a personal level, this is an almost impossible task, as the notion of conflict is often distorted by an inability to distance
oneself from most of its forms.


http://www.bajr.org/documents/bajrbattleguide.pdf
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Old 01-24-2014, 01:55 PM   #29
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Regarding topic 3, I still think there would be people who would want to check on the accuracy of some of the eye witnesses' accounts. It's not that they believe that the relevant people lied; it's that the accuracy of their accounts might be affected by other factors. We see this in the growth of the discipline of battlefield archaeology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield_archaeology

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/humanit...ldarchaeology/

We can see this issue discussed on page 3 of a document on the discipline:

How this archaeological evidence is studied and more importantly, how it is interpreted, is of the greatest importance. It can and should be distinguished from the historical literary evidence, which is usually based on personal accounts of the event and is not always necessarily reliable. Few, if any of those at a scene of conflict, can give an accurate account of the entire event, as sites of conflict are by their very nature traumatic and confusing places. They also often cover large areas of ground. The observer might not even have known how large the conflict was, or how many casualties were taken on another part of the field. The larger picture of the conflict therefore depends upon a general overview and this was usually supplied by one of the leaders of one faction. Apart from the bias inherent in such a view, it also relies upon an interpretation of the event, rather than an objective account.

In order to gain a more accurate understanding of the event, such as its scale or the number of dead, an account should ideally be obtained from something or someone who would not provide, or profit from, a distorted version of it - someone who would provide a neutral viewpoint. Although on a practical level this could be done by analysing the residue - the concentrations of artefacts left on the ground after the conflict - on a personal level, this is an almost impossible task, as the notion of conflict is often distorted by an inability to distance
oneself from most of its forms.


http://www.bajr.org/documents/bajrbattleguide.pdf
That general idea was something I wanted to bring up, but it would have been a difficult thing to explain to others. Actually, it might be fun to see how much the Elves, and other long lived peoples of ME got right, as far as archaeology goes. I can imagine the indignation on the face of Elrond now.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:35 PM   #30
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Utumno!

According to Appendix A, the ruins of Utumno may well be underneath the Icebay of Forochel. Who knows what's there for the taking? Equip some divers, go exploring, see what you can find. But be very very careful.....
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:51 PM   #31
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And that is another thing about archaeology in ME... the dangerous things that might be unearthed. Like one of Morgoth's R&D's that may have survived under the ice in Utomno. Which leads me to another question; is archaeology even prudent in ME? How safe would it be to go digging around in some old ruins of some of the more evil sort.
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Old 11-29-2017, 04:04 AM   #32
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Pipe

Hypothetical discussions are all very well, but let us not forget that there is an actual, genuine, canonical archaeologist in Middle-earth, and his name is Gandalf.

Not convinced? Consider the following chain of events: when Gandalf decided to investigate a certain ancient artefact, his first thought was to trace the chain of custody. He knew that Bilbo had received the Ring from Gollum, but where had Gollum got it? He took Aragorn (a specialist in tracking) and went hunting for him.

But as with many archaeological investigations, it wasn't as easy as 'this is what we need to find, and here it is'. Met with apparent failure, Gandalf didn't give up, but moved onto a different avenue of investigation: the documentary archives at Minas Tirith. He delved through old texts until he found a primary source concerning the Ring, and how its identity could be established.

That would have been enough to go on, and indeed he started back to the Shire at that point, but then came word that Aragorn had found Gollum. Did Gandalf say 'welp, waste of time, I've got what I need'? No! He followed his archaeological instincts and got as much information as he could before reporting back.

Okay (you may say), but that was the Ring, it was kind of a big deal. True - except that Gandalf has a full-blown habit of investigating questions this way. They find a tomb in Moria, and what does he do? He immediately finds a primary source text to determine the events that led up to it (despite the obvious presence of orc-scimitars in the room, and the general time pressure the Fellowship were under). Admittedly it was only 25 years old, but that doesn't make it not archaeology!

When helping Thorin organise an expedition to the Lonely Mountain, he recruited Bilbo as someone who could enter the site without leaving any traces and extract artefacts without disturbing anything - call him a burglar or an archaeologist as you will! When he found ancient swords marked with runes that he (apparently?) couldn't read, he took them directly to Elrond, who is noted as knowing 'all about runes of every kind'. He also took Thror's map there, in case Elrond could get more information out of it than he could. Whenever he wanted to teach someone about a country, he did it by singing ancient songs - songs that no-one else seemed to know any more, that he had perhaps dug up out of the same archives as the Isildur text.

Of course, Gandalf was never a traditional archaeologist with shovels and trenches, but rather a documentary archaeologist, tracing written evidence whenever he could. Nor was he, admittedly, a particularly careful archaeologist - his reaction to priceless artefacts like Glamdring was 'plunder and use', so he's about on the level of the early Victorian stages of the science. But an archaeologist he most certainly was.

(All said with tongue firmly in cheek. Next up (not actually next up), a discussion of Tom Bombadil's investigative skills, and the decontextualisation of Barrow-wight treasure...)
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