Saturday, June 4, 2016

Bronze Age Britain and the "Brexit"

In an article from the New Yorker, describing the latest discoveries at Must Farm quarry near Peterborough in England, Charlotte Higgins reflects on the openness of the evidence toward the larger cultural narratives.
At a moment when Britain is anxiously debating its relationship to the Continent, the kind of story one chooses to tell about the nation’s past matters a great deal. According to recent polling, the area around Peterborough is the second most skeptical of E.U. membership in Britain. One archeologist at Must Farm told me that he and his colleagues sometimes joke about the contradictory narratives that could plausibly describe the former life there. “You could probably write either a Euroskeptic or a Europhile account of this site,” he said. One researcher might see an indigenous community that was closely tied to the landscape of East Anglia; another might see an outward-looking people linked to the Continent by its waterways. Archeology is always an encounter between a fixed past and a shifting present; we bring to it our fantasies, prejudices, and predilections—this year different from last year, next year different again.

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