The Ubiquitous French

Ah… While people slave in the Anatolian peninsular heat and take their malaria tablets, I bask on the terrace of the J. Paul Getty Center sipping beverages in the late afternoon sun, a light breeze coming from the west. It’s a small party of about 25 people, all who have worked hard to install the latest Dec Arts and Sculpture exhibition, French Bronzes: From Renaissance to Revolution. With enough Ella on the speakers, you can ignore the 405 and enjoy the conversation. The Lourve’s representative curator has made cheesy puffs that are delightful, and the head of conservation is pouring out the wine. On Monday, I am attending the private opening of the exhibition, which opens to the public on Monday.

Yesterday I made my rounds of the Getty Research Institute, which is phenomenal in its size and scope. I passed a beautifully bound 40-volume set of Buddhist texts. My current project (the database) has facilitated incredibly obscure knowledge about the obscure industry of 19th century cut nails and lathe-cut screws. I love factoids, and my research over the past few days has made me appreciate the art of forging, cutting, machinery, mechanical engineering and the ingenuity of the human race. Once again (I must sound like a broken record at this point!), it’s the little things that make you really consider the depth of human history– the published bits at least. And then it’s up to archaeology to fill in the other pieces! Hooray.

I was given the Getty-published conference proceedings from the WAC conservation meeting in 2003. I opened it up at lunch and behold! An article by Brian Fagan, the man who says archaeology is dead. His paper this time was more a (excuse me) bitchfest about ethics in archaeology, and the need for conservation in the field of archaeology. He mentions some of the older archaeologists, like Flinders Petrie and his book Methods and Aims in Archaeology, and their stance on ethics in their study. It was a tad soap-boxy, but still a very nice paper, both stylistically and in the way where it shows what archaeology lacks (had lacked in 2003?): a comprehensive approach to conservation of everything, and a conservationist approach to academic research. What he meant by this was, instead of just the “excavate, research, publish”, train academic archaeologists to have a similar conservationist attitude, as a CRM firm would have but without the “dig it up before someone else destroys it” mentality.

I love my job. That is all.

On another note, Michael Jackson died today. Cardiac arrest. Farrah Fawcett kicked it as well. Ed McMahon yesterday also passed. A bad week for the 1970s indeed…. On another (not disrespectful in any way) tangent, I wonder what MJ’s remains will look like to future archaeologists. Just a passing thought.


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