Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent: A History of Local Archaeological Knowledge and Labor by Allison Mickel
Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent is based on six years of in-depth ethnographic work with current and former site workers at two major Middle Eastern archaeological sites--Petra, Jordan, and Çatalhöyük, Turkey--combined with thorough archival research. Author Allison Mickel describes the nature of the knowledge that locally hired archaeological laborers exclusively possess about artifacts, excavation methods, and archaeological interpretation, showing that archaeological workers are experts about a wide range of topics in archaeology. At the same time, Mickel reveals a financial incentive for site workers to pretend to be less knowledgeable than they actually are, as they risk losing their jobs or demotion if they reveal their expertise.
Despite a recent proliferation of critical research examining the history and politics of archaeology, the topic of archaeological labor has not yet been substantially examined. Why Those Who Shovel Are Silent employs a range of advanced qualitative, quantitative, and visual approaches and offers recommendations for archaeologists to include more diverse expert perspectives and produce more nuanced knowledge about the past. It will appeal to archaeologists, science studies scholars, and anyone interested in challenging the concept of "unskilled" labor.