MRI scan

Low back pain

I have been going through an acute event of low back pain a few months ago (the so-called colpo della strega), and I’m slowly recovering to normality ‒ still no lifting of heavy weights for me. It hurt me a lot, suddenly, but in retrospect it was not a surprise, because I had been having mild pain for months now and I know since 2010 that there’s a beginning of slipped disc at L5-S1 in my spine.

MRI scanI know this is very common, but I cannot help thinking about the consequences of this health issue as an archaeologist. I don’t call myself a field archaeologist now, but I have been spending 2-3 months a year in the field for several years (2003-2010) and in 2009 I did that as a profession for a while (most of the other fieldwork was done with universities). Luckily enough, but without any actual plan, in 2009 I started accumulating some experience with ceramics and I took part in several campaigns doing that instead of digging. I like digging ‒ I know very well that I am far from being good at it, because I think too much and I’m not quite a fast “identify-clean-record-dig” type ‒ but I still like it a lot. And, the less I practice archaeological digging (10 sparse days last year), the more I idealise it as the real archaeology.

Obviously, the idea that archaeology is restricted to fieldwork is wrong, but I’m only fortunate that I have a job and I am not forced to prove this truth.

It hurts.

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Stefano Costa

Archaeologist, I study the Late Antique and Early Medieval/Byzantine period on the northern side of the Mediterranean, focusing on pottery usage patterns. I'm also involved in open source and open knowledge communities, like OSGeo, the IOSA project and the Open Knowledge Foundation.