“Always Look Down”
I met Steven Blondo, archaeologist, through mutual friends. I had never met an archaeologist in person even though I possess a lifelong fascination with the field and–in a general sense–with time, change, artifacts, and the past. When I was very young I wanted to be a paleontologist, and archaeologist, a comedian, a baseball player and a fireman, in no particular order and I would do all of them “in my spare time.” I may have lost interest in being a comedian and a fireman but I never quite lost my fascination with (as Steven puts it) “always looking down” and seeing what might be there.
I spent an afternoon on a dig with Steven and his employee Laura (Steven Blondo’s consulting firm can be investigated HERE). He explains in the podcast what he does so I won’t write it all out here but suffice to say that when someone wants to dig or build on a patch of ground, legally they need to determine whether or not that site has cultural or archaeological significance. That’s his job. And here are a couple pics of him, the tools of the trade, and a short video of how they do what they do:
These pictures show the site before measuring and plotting out the dig sites and show Laura and Steven making sure that what they are about to do fulfills the requirements of their assignment.
This video shows the basic procedure once the holes are marked onto the site:
Listen to Steven talk about his interest in the field, what he considers to be some of the most important questions remaining in Minnesota archaeology, and what he finds to be some of the biggest and most influential developments in recent times. I really enjoyed our conversation and I think you will too.
I then talk about the “archaeology” of fiddle tunes. I’ve always been fascinated by the history embedded in music, especially because of the transitory nature of the art: someone performs it and then it disappears. But titles and connections with older tunes abound and reveal lost ways of life, different ways of living. I use a few musical examples like “Shove the Pig’s Foot A Little Further Into The Fire” and “Billy In The Lowground” to show what I mean.
Finally, I wrap up the piece with a poem written (and used with the permission of) Joel Mabus. If you don’t know his work, go look him up HERE. Maybe someday I’ll have him do a house concert and we can all get to know him and his work better.