Here we all are, quite an attractive bunch! We were out fieldwalking yesterday, we found 2 bits of flint and a beer can, very exciting. Lovely day too, a hint of mist and a long trip in the minibus home in the dark.
It got me started thinking about minibuses…most people use the trowel, specifically the 4″ pointing trowel made by WHS as the ubiquitous visual referent of archaeological practice and often as archaelogy itself. However one can go about archaeology in many ways without a trowel; fieldwalking, off-set planning, larger field survey, geophysics and so on. Now the minibus is nearly always nearby when doing most archaeology, from student training excavations, to commercial fieldwork, field trips to sites, visiting the SMR again a long list. So maybe this should be our symbol of group identity? Ok so other groups use minibuses too, but bricklayers and stonemasons will also use trowels.
Minibuses fill a range of roles too; transportation vehicle for work, for out of hours fun, tea room, tool shed, site office, drawing room, drying room, nap room(!), resting post during lunch, a shade from the summer sun, hideaway for a secret romantic encounter and so on, but these are all quite concrete uses. The poor old minibus is also used in more social ways; a barrier between groups as they eat outside or who eats inside or out. Then, whilst driving, who sits where, the site director as driver maybe, supervisors in the passenger seats then the rest of the group filtered to the back in sets of friends or length on a project.
They can create happiness, “yes! we got the good minbus on the way home today” perhaps a bus with more foot space (ancient Leyland DAF over new Transit) or without a hole in the roof. Creating holes in the roof can also recreate social roles, seeing a lecturer drunk jumping up and down on a roof is a surefire way to encourage interaction with students and teachers! Then knowing who knows who created the hole adding to the sense of group identity and disrupting power structures as the supplies manager struggles to get to the bottom!
Minibuses are used in a range of roles and as various places in quite a small physical space, and all are created and recreated during archaeological practice. So maybe I’ll change the header picture here to a minibus sitting in a muddy field and apply for a D1 rather than looking up WHS next time I lose my trowel?