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.
I 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.