As an archaeologist by trade, my labor is often focused on searching for things that we did not know existed. Sometimes this investigative work produces the identification of isolated artifacts and complex sites, but more often than not these surveys produce negative results – meaning despite our best efforts, nothing was found.
Trying to uncover missing narratives of our past is one of the more enjoyable aspects of conducting historic research. Similar to archaeology, an objective of conducting research is hoping to uncover a narrative that may have been forgotten, or in some cases intentionally hidden from the public. However, like archaeology, this research, too, often fails to produce any smoking guns.
A mine remains active long after it stops producing. Scary stuff from Nova Scotia. Really interesting write up from the CBC here.
John Baeten is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Spatial Analysis of Environmental Change in the Department of Geography at Indiana University. He holds a PhD in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology from Michigan Technological University. His research aims to connect historical process to current environmental challenges, and to contextualize the environmental legacies of industrialization as meaningful cultural heritage.