This is a little bit of a soppy post. The "Pots" posts here are for things that are everyday, so I thought I'd start off with something that I do everyday. I look at the floor. I don't know if this is something unique to archaeologists (although my family certainly think so), but when I walk around, I tend to notice things on the ground. Of course, I love looking up at the sky, trees, buildings and not bumping into people, but the floor seems to draw my gaze more often than not. This odd activity has its perks, particularly at this time of year. You notice patterns and objects that other people step over: fallen leaves, strangely posed rubbish, prints in mud. You also avoid treading in dog poo and/or nasty puddles, or have a better chance of doing this.
I'm in Rome at the moment working at the British School (there'll be posts about this aplenty). Yesterday I snuck away from my desk and my work to clear my head in the Villa Borghese park. Here are some things that I noticed on the ground there, and thought I'd take photos of. My faithful old wellies are in a couple of the pictures- they frame my gaze as I look at the earth.
I noticed the horse shoes in this dried out mud, alongside the horizontal pine needles. The scuffing out and retainment of the prints reminds me of just how ephemeral the traces of passage can be. Some of these horseshoes were deep and pitted, while others had almost been swallowed up again by the dust. The idea of horses in such an urban setting is also quite appealing- these were well off the track of the carriage rides you see advertised in central Rome.
This was the first photo I took from the walk. I liked the bark chip on the floor, alongside the small number of leaves. So many leaves are still on the trees here in Rome, while at home in Devon the trees are almost bare, with the rooks' nests exposed in the branches. The single green leaf amongs the brown dead humus and man made bark chip stood out.
This is another example of fallen leaves- these tiny yellow and green pieces were flashes of colour on the path. So bright and tiny, yet arranged almost in a spiralling swirl entwined with darker patches of bark. The rotten leaves that had already fallen were dried out and grey, with tiny pices of stone providing a pointillistic effect, if you want to see it there.
I don't know whether doing this is a hangover from my experience of grown-up survey archaeology, or the remnants of hopes of discovery and instant fame from a childhood spent wanting to find Iron Age glory in the dust of parks in Hertfordshire and the sulking of enforced walks. Frankly, when it lets me notice things like these tiny compositions made from the interaction between people, animals and the world of the park, I'm not sure I care. The ground is as much a part of Villa Borghese as the stunning pine and cyprus trees, the lake with its' rowing boats, and the faux and real Roman architecture.
Do you look at the floor? Do you notice things on the ground? Do you think this is weird? Let me know what you think. I promise the next "Pots" post will be more prosaic...