The End. Or Not.

As I've spent the last 15 months immersed in archeology, I've learned that scientists in this field are eternal optimists.

The field is an interesting hybrid of science and humanities. Archeologists use the latest technology to read beneath the soil. Drone photography often provides the first promise of unearthing new information when, unexpectedly, mysterious bumps and ridges seem to rise from the ground. Geophysics provides information about density and biochemical composition of particular sites. And now, archeologists such as Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama employ satellite imaging to identify buried landscapes.

Once reams of data are gathered, archeologists then ponder the historical and cultural landscape. They ask questions. If a medieval village was located here, what would it look like? Irish lords ruled in a very different way than English kings: What kind of stuff did they use in their everyday lives? How kingly were they?  From precise data and astute questions, hypotheses emerge. In excavation, some are proven to be accurate and that's a happy day in archeology. Other hypotheses are disproven. That's not an unhappy result, but a puzzling one. Hypotheses are revised. What was thought to be medieval is prehistoric, or vice versa. At that point, the narrative changes. 

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True Gaelic features leading archeologists in Ireland and the U.S. revealing what lies beneath the ground in a beautiful and remote corner of Ireland.

 

True Gaelic features leading archeologists in Ireland and the U.S. revealing what lies beneath the ground in a beautiful and remote corner of Ireland. The excavation's lead archeologist Dr. Tom Finan collects a vast amount of data before deciding where to excavate. Despite all of the quantifiable scientific information, the best way to confirm what lies beneath the surface is to put a spade into the ground.

Our cameras documented the "proof of excavation" that tells the story of a high-status Gaelic medieval family that lived beyond the rule of Anglo Norman control.  

True Gaelic isn't  a story with a beginning, middle and end. It is an unfolding story, one that reveals new information about how an Irish ruling family chose to live and govern themselves in the Middle Ages. 

Archeologists Jim Shryver, Tom Finan and Alan Hayden discuss the stratigraphy of a test trench. (Photo credit: Arianna Riggs)

Archeologists Jim Shryver, Tom Finan and Alan Hayden discuss the stratigraphy of a test trench. (Photo credit: Arianna Riggs)

Christina Chastain