October 21, 2015 was the day on which Marty McFly travelled to the future in Doc Brown’s time-travelling DeLorean in Back to the Future II. I love those movies and yes, I have found a way to connect them to archaeology….
As archaeologists, we study the past through archaeological excavations… but millennia separate us from the historical periods in which we are interested and to which we devote our lives. What we find on digs is only a small percentage of what was there thousands of years ago. And even if we do find lots of architectural vestiges, written texts or artefacts, sometimes it’s rather difficult to figure out what they mean and how they were used. That’s when we wish we had a plutonium-powered flying DeLorean so we could travel back in time… and figure it all out.
How cool would it be to figure out how the pyramids were actually built? To stand with the masses as the barque of Amun is borne in procession during the Opet Festival? To ask Akhenaten what the heck was he thinking when he decided to be depicted in that odd fashion? To glimpse at Cleopatra and discover if she really was all that and a bag of chips? To witness the Romans get their butts kicked by a powerful Nubian queen?
Would you want to know? Or would you rather the past remained mysterious? Or would you rather travel to the future… and give the archaeologists there a few hints about what is going on back in good old 2015?!
Happy Back to the Future Day!