Sunday, 22 June 2014

Archaeology and spying

There is a long history between archaeology, colonial rule and spying and in the halls of Cambridge one cannot avoid at least once hearing some murmuring about the past double roles. I must admit I myself was wondering the sponsorship of NATO for a remote sensing conference. It is quite clear that for that sort of organisation the real interest cannot be some mounds in a remote landscape, but potentially the modern structures in far-flung spaces, even if the archaeologists naturally heard of the newest and the most accurate methods. Although, nowadays all organisations have to show that they also serve ‘community’ and potentially military organisations want to show that their expensive equipment can be used peacefully.

Archaeologists can move around relatively freely and their wonderings in the landscape with maps and equipment is motivated by so-called good causes. We collect knowledge of heritage and write the history and prehistory of the human race. At the same time some people may wonder if some individuals have double reasons of taking a walk.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (image source:

This week bring about those memories of the Cambridge’s past fame as a source of agents when it emerged that a Green Party member of the Lords, Lady Jones, the former Green Party candidate for the London mayor’s post, had been put on the ‘extremist’ list and her political activities were followed. The same was done to Councillor Ian Driver, who is also a Green Party member. Naturally, this may be related to any environmental protesting, but it has not escaped me that Jenny Jones is a former archaeologist. In a previous life she has been specialised in Middle Eastern archaeology. Being Green and interested in Middle East may rise eyebrows.

Which just leaves me wondering how many other archaeologists may be on all kinds of following lists. There are those who have connections not only to Green Party, but perhaps and/or to peace movements, alternative living and CND. Ho hum, I have been recorded as well, since all the participants of the antinuclear marches were duly recorded by the Finnish ‘secret police’. However, they were so visible with their cameras and overactive finger action that their ‘surveillance’ was not really the best held secret on the planet.

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