The archaeologist in Wonderland


When I was a kid, I dreamed of finding all kinds of cool and strange things in the forest. Hunting for treasure, feeling like Indiana Jones. I was happy when I came home with a shiny rock, or a funny looking acorn. Now I am many years older, have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and am working on a Masters in Archaeology. When I look at this intro, not much has changed about that weird sense to search for treasure…

When Lewis wrote Wonderland, he created a magical place in which a child could get lost and find all kinds of adventure. Tea parties with mad people, a white rabbit with a watch, a murderous queen. Nothing was crazy enough! The Wonderland of an archaeologist is a bit different. It would probably involve lots of coins, hidden inscriptions and possibly some pottery. Falling down tree roots that hide all these amazing things that tell us so much about the past. Sometimes, these things can get a little bit more real. Like when you are roaming the hills of Italian Molise, mapping structures with a GPS. Suddenly, you find a wall. And one more… And another! How strange… You were suspecting to find a modern terrace, of course. But what are all these walls doing here? And.. is that a possible tower? Or at least, the remains of it? Could it be, that while searching for remains older than the Romans, you found a possible Medieval castle-like structure? The remains of an old, Italian castello? The structures of these buildings are known, many modern towns are named after them but a lot of times they are completely gone. Here, in the Molisian forest, the remains still stand. Silently watching over the area they once protected and ruled. Stones that once formed walls to be clearly seen, are now covered with moss and taken over by trees that have been growing here for many years. The archaeologist in me is mapping this structure, trying to stay professional. The kid in me is screaming, wondering if there could be treasure around. Indiana Jones would now probably see some vipers (who live in these woods as well), follow them and fall into the grave of an old Neapolitan king. Or at least the (very intact) basement of this castle. Unfortunately, Indiana Jones does not exist and although I do wear a cowboy-ish hat in the field, I am definitely not him. So no treasure for me… But I do have the satisfaction of the child in me, who finally found her Wonderland.

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