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In the first of a new series, Peter Curran puts archaeologists under his anthropological microscope. Do the scientists who discover and interpret lives in the distant past have a distinctive culture and mind set of their own? To find out, Peter visits a tribe of British archaeologists at their excavations on the island of Jersey.
For 250 000 years, Jersey was a magnet for bands of nomadic Neanderthals and later Stone age hunter gatherers. During much of that time, sea level was lower than today and you could walk to Jersey from Britain or France. When ice ages waned, groups of Palaeolithic people gravitated there to hunt mammoths, rhinos and reindeer.
Today Jersey is drawing archaeologists from all over the UK because of its windows into the early Stone Age past. One is in a rocky ravine by the sea and the other in a farmer's field. While the scientists want to learn about the people and their lives in the landscape back then, Peter Curran gets down in the dirt to find out what makes the archaeologists tick and what might distinguish them as a tribe of science.
Peter explores what drives the desire to spend a summer month crouched in the dirt with trowels and sieves, and hears about tribal life in the archaeolological trenches.