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Digging Digitally

10 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 02 May 2014

"The archaeological wonders of today" writes Mary Beard "don't come from heroic subterranean exploration, still less from the efforts of teenagers with their spades and trowels in damp Shropshire fields. They are much more often 'virtual'".

Mary reflects on the new face of archaeology - far removed from the days of Heinrich Schliemann who famously claimed "to have gazed on the face of Agamemnon".

She traces the history of virtual archaeology from the early 1900s and admits "part of me thrills to the magic of the technology, and to the sheer bravura of displaying the plans of lost buildings, even lost towns, at the touch of a few buttons". She recognises it's far cheaper, quicker and leaves ruins where they are safest: under the ground.

But she also admits a feeling of nostalgia for the old ways. When she sees an exciting new discovery, "my heart just itches to get out my spade and my trowel and go and actually dig it up".

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

  • A Point of View: Is the archaeological dig a thing of the past?

    BBC logo.jpg

    Archaeological discoveries are more likely to be found by technology than with a trowel and a torch, writes classical historian Mary Beard.


    Read Mary Beard's article on the BBC News website




Mary Beard
Richard Knight
Adele Armstrong


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