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1131 Visiting an Archaeological Site

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,131 – Visiting an Archaeological Site.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,131. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to ESLPod.com and download the Learning Guide for this episode. What’s in the Learning Guide? It has a complete transcript of everything I say and a whole lot more.

This episode is a dialogue between Lillian and Bruce about going to an archaeological site – a place where we find out what people were like many, many years ago before we had Wikipedia. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Lillian: Look at this! I’m going to take this home as a souvenir.

Bruce: You can’t do that. That might be an artifact of some kind. It belongs to this archaeological site.

Lillian: It’s just a rock. No one will miss it.

Bruce: That’s not the point. Everything here should be preserved. That’s the point of doing a careful excavation. Everything should be recorded and nothing should be lost.

Lillian: Take it easy. It’s not like I’m defacing anything. And if they’re trying to preserve this site, why are they doing this dig? Wouldn’t it be better just to leave it frozen in time?

Bruce: The point is to learn more about the peoples of ancient civilizations who lived here in prehistory.

Lillian: In my opinion, it’s disrespectful to disturb burial mounds and tombs. They were never meant to be desecrated like this.

Bruce: Some people would agree with you, but that’s the price we have to pay to add to our knowledge about human history. I really think you should leave that rock where you found it. It could be a fossil.

Lillian: Do you really think so?

Bruce: You never know. You could hold in your hand the key to understanding this entire civilization.

Lillian: Wow, if I take it, I could preserve it for posterity.

Bruce: What happened to leaving things undisturbed?

Lillian: That’s before I realized I could go down in history for my own discovery!

[end of dialogue]

This dialogue is all about visiting, or going to, an archaeological site. “Archaeological” (archaeological) is the study of human history by looking at what people many years ago left behind, things we usually find in the ground. To understand what life was like a thousand years ago or five thousand years ago, we dig into the ground. We make a hole or remove ground so we can see what is still there from these old civilizations.

The study of archaeology is the study of these old civilizations, the way people lived many years ago. Specifically, “archaeology” deals with looking at what remains physically – what we can find, as I said before, usually buried in the ground. Lillian begins our dialogue by saying to Bruce, “Look at this! I’m going to take this home as a souvenir.” A “souvenir” (souvenir) is something you bring home from a place that you have visited.

Now of course, when you go to an archaeological site, you can’t bring a souvenir home. That’s usually not allowed. And that’s what Bruce tells Lillian. “You can’t do that. That might be an artifact of some kind.” An “artifact” (artifact) is a word that we use to describe anything that was made by human beings many years ago and then is found. So, archaeological sites, or areas where we are digging into the ground, find things, physical things that we call “artifacts.” Bruce says, “It belongs to this archaeological site.” The word “site” (site) just means place or location – where something is done.

Lillian says, however, “It’s just a rock. No one will miss it,” meaning no one will even know it’s gone. Bruce says, however, “That’s not the point.” “That’s not the point” means you don’t understand or you’re giving a reason that is not relevant here. He says, “Everything here should be preserved.” “To preserve” (preserve) means to take care of something so that it is saved for the future. You take care of the condition of the object. The verb is “to preserve.” The noun is “preservation.”

Bruce says, “That’s the point of,” or that’s the reason for, “doing a careful excavation.” An “excavation” (excavation) is also sometimes called a “dig” (dig). An “excavation” is a place where you dig into the ground. You remove the dirt and the rocks in order to see what’s underneath them. You will normally only hear or read this word “excavation” relating to archaeological sites. Bruce says, “Everything should be recorded and nothing should be lost.” “To record” something here means to write it down, or perhaps to take a film of it.

Lillian says, “Take it easy,” meaning “Don’t get excited, Bruce.” “It’s not like I’m defacing anything,” she says. “To deface”(deface) something is to change the way something looks, usually by painting on it or perhaps scratching it. If someone puts a sign up on a wall, for example, and you don’t like what the sign says, you could, say, take some paint and put a big X on it. That would be “defacing” the sign. By the way, that’s usually illegal – when you deface someone else’s property – so you should probably not do that.

Lillian continues, “And if they’re trying to preserve this site, why are they doing this dig?” “Dig,” remember, means “excavation.” “Wouldn’t it be better just to leave it frozen in time?” The phrase “frozen (frozen) in time” means not changing anything, or perhaps a situation that has been the same for many, many years. If you don’t dig it up, Lillian says, it will remain the same as it was before. Of course, the difficult part of archaeology is digging things up without ruining them.

Bruce says, “The point” – once again, the reason – “is to learn more about the peoples of ancient civilizations who lived here in prehistory.” “Ancient” (ancient) means very old, usually thousands of years old. “Civilization” refers to a society or group of people who live together with similar customs, similar laws, and similar practices. The point of archaeology is to learn about the peoples of ancient civilizations who lived in what we call “prehistory.” “Prehistory” (prehistory) is the period of time before human beings began to write, before they began to record things so that they could be read later on.

Lillian says, “In my opinion, it’s disrespectful to disturb burial mounds and tombs. They were never meant to be desecrated like this.” “To disturb” (disturb) can mean to bother or to interrupt someone. Here, it means to change something in a negative way. The word “burial” (burial) refers to putting a dead body into the ground. A “mound” (mound) is basically a pile of dirt, an area that is higher than the ground or earth around it.

A “burial mound” is a place where someone is buried. Instead of digging in the ground and putting the body in the ground, in a hole, you put dirt or earth over the body. Burial mounds were very common in many different civilizations, including the Native American civilizations in the area where I grew up in Minnesota, where you can still see burial mounds from the ancient American-Indian civilizations.

“Tombs” (tombs) are also places where you put a dead body, except usually it’s an area or a room instead of underground in a hole or in a burial mound. You can think of the ancient tombs in Egypt. These are places where you bury someone above the ground in a room or in a large area. Lillian is saying that they should not be digging into these burial mounds and tombs.

She says, “They were never meant to be desecrated like this.” “To desecrate” (desecrate) means to treat something with disrespect, especially something that you consider holy – something that has religious value or religious significance. Bruce continues, “Some people would agree with you, but that’s the price we have to pay to add to our knowledge about human history. I really think you should leave that rock where you found it. It could be a fossil.” A “fossil” (fossil) is a rock that contains the image of an animal or a plant that died many years ago.

Lillian says, “Do you really think so?” meaning do you really think this could be a fossil? Bruce says, “You never know” – you can never be sure. “You could hold in your hand the key to understanding this entire civilization.” Bruce means you could be holding in your hand right now a very important piece of information that would help us understand this civilization. Lillian says, “Wow. If I take it, I could preserve it for posterity.” “Posterity” (posterity) refers to future generations – people who have not even been born yet.

Lillian is still thinking of taking this rock with her. Bruce asks her, “What happened to leaving things undisturbed?” meaning “Why did you change your mind about leaving things undisturbed, because now you’re talking about taking this rock with you.” Lillian says, “That’s before I realized I could go down in history for my own discovery!”

The expression “to go down in history” means to be remembered for a particular accomplishment or to be remembered in a certain way. It could be a good way. It could be a bad way. Adolf Hitler will go down in history as being a very evil man a man who was responsible for killing millions of people. Gandhi in India will be remembered, or go down in history, for helping establish the independence of his country. I will go down in history as being one of the great singing podcasters of the twenty-first century. Hey, don’t laugh.

Lillian wants to go down in history for her own discovery. “Discovery” comes from the verb “to discover” (discover), which means to learn something about something else for the first time, before anyone else has learned it. You could discover a cure for a disease – you could find the answer to help people get over their sickness. That would be a discovery.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Lillian: Look at this! I’m going to take this home as a souvenir.

Bruce: You can’t do that. That might be an artifact of some kind. It belongs to this archaeological site.

Lillian: It’s just a rock. No one will miss it.

Bruce: That’s not the point. Everything here should be preserved. That’s the point of doing a careful excavation. Everything should be recorded and nothing should be lost.

Lillian: Take it easy. It’s not like I’m defacing anything. And if they’re trying to preserve this site, why are they doing this dig? Wouldn’t it be better just to leave it frozen in time?

Bruce: The point is to learn more about the peoples of ancient civilizations who lived here in prehistory.

Lillian: In my opinion, it’s disrespectful to disturb burial mounds and tombs. They were never meant to be desecrated like this.

Bruce: Some people would agree with you, but that’s the price we have to pay to add to our knowledge about human history. I really think you should leave that rock where you found it. It could be a fossil.

Lillian: Do you really think so?

Bruce: You never know. You could hold in your hand the key to understanding this entire civilization.

Lillian: Wow, if I take it, I could preserve it for posterity.

Bruce: What happened to leaving things undisturbed?

Lillian: That’s before I realized I could go down in history for my own discovery!

[end of dialogue]

Lucy Tse will go down in history as being one of the great scriptwriters on the Internet. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
artifact – an item made and used by humans long ago, and then found

* These artifacts can tell us what people used to eat and how they prepared their foods.

archaeological – related to the study of human history by studying what ancient civilizations have left behind

* What can archaeological findings tell us about how households were organized in ancient times?

site – a place or location where something is done or built

* Have you chosen a site for the new factory yet?

to preserve – to take good care of something so that it is saved for the future and its condition will not continue to get worse

* We need to find ways to preserve the rainforests for future generations.

excavation – a dig; a place where soil and rocks have been dug up and moved aside to identify what is below them

* The excavation revealed a dinosaur skeleton that is nearly complete.

to record – to write something down, or to tape or videotape something so that people can refer to it in the future

* Who is going to record the meeting?

to deface – to change and harm the appearance of something by scratching it or putting a permanent mark on it

* The tourists were arrested for defacing an important temple by writing their names on the wall.

dig – excavation; a place where soil and rocks are dug up and moved aside to identify what is below them

* This dig is challenging, because it’s in the middle of a desert with extreme heat and many dangerous insects.

frozen in time – seeming to have been the same for a long time; apparently without any progress and with no change even though a long period of time has passed

* People whose portraits have been painted are frozen in time and appear never to age.

ancient civilization – a society that was active a very long time ago

* Yunze is fascinated by ancient civilizations, especially Babylonia.

prehistory – the period of time before humans were writing things down

* It’s difficult to study prehistory, because there aren’t any written records.

to disturb – to influence, impact, or change something in some way, especially in a negative way

* Zoo visitors are asked to avoid making loud noises that might disturb the animals.

burial – related to the act of placing a dead body underground

* Who made the burial arrangements when Grandpa Joe passed away?


mound – a section of raised earth; a pile of dirt; an area that is higher than the surrounding area, but rounded

* To really hide the treasure, we have to bury it and make sure the area is flat. We can’t leave a mound for people to find.

tomb – a large area or room where a dead body is placed, either underground or inside a structure

* The Egyptian pyramids are giant tombs for the pharaohs.

to desecrate – to deface something or otherwise treat it with disrespect; to behave in a way that strongly disrespects a religious or holy place

* The invaders desecrated the temple by breaking holy sculptures and throwing dirt onto religious paintings.

fossil – a rock that contains the image of a plant or animal that died long ago

* Scientist use fossils to understand what dinosaurs looked like.

posterity – future generations; people who have not yet been born

* Liyun wants to do something great that will ensure she is remembered in posterity.

to go down in history – to be remembered for a particular accomplishment or to be remembered in a particular way

* Chong dreams of going down in history as the inventor of the first flying car.

discovery – what one learns or realizes about something for the first time, before anyone else has learned it

* The discovery of fire allowed humans to survive in very cold climates.

Comprehension Questions
1. What would you expect to see at an archaeological site?
a) People who are preserving and recording their findings
b) People who are defacing artifacts
c) People who are giving medical exams

2. What does Lillian mean when she says, “I could preserve it for posterity”?
a) She could sell it and make a lot of money.
b) She could give it to researchers or a museum.
c) She could save it for future generations.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to preserve

The word “preserve,” in this podcast, means to take good care of something so that it is saved for the future and will not continue to deteriorate: “The architects are trying to find ways to preserve the original structure while protecting it from earthquakes.” When talking about food, “to preserve” means to store food so that it will not go bad: “Pioneers preserved summer fruits by making them into jams and jellies.” A “nature preserve” is a natural area set aside for wild animals and plants, minimizing the impact of humans: “Hunting is forbidden within the nature preserve.” Finally, someone who is “well-preserved” is aging well and does not appear as old as he or she actually is: “What face cream does Jodi use? She is so well-preserved!”

dig

In this podcast, a “dig” is an excavation, or a place where soil and rocks are dug up and moved aside to identify what is below them: “The dig revealed a campfire site thought to be at least 400 years old.” The phrase “to have a dig at (someone)” means to make a critical comment about another person: “Have you noticed how Sheila often has a dig at her coworkers when they aren’t in the room?” The word “digs” is used informally to refer to one’s room or apartment, or where one lives: “Come over on Friday and check out my new digs.” Finally, the phrase “to dig a hole for (oneself)” means to do something that creates a problem for oneself or that puts oneself in a difficult situation: “Liam really dug a hole for himself when he got caught lying during his interview.”

Culture Note
Archaeological Sites in the United States

One of the most impressive archaeological sites in the United States is Mesa Verde National Park, near the “Four Corners,” where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah “meet” (Intersect). The National Park actually has more than 4,000 archaeological sites, and many of them are “cliff” (very steep, rocky sides of mountains) “dwellings” (homes) where the Pueblo people used to live between 600 and 1300 “AD” (anno domini; after the birth of Jesus Christ).

In New Mexico, Chaco “Canyon” (a deep valley between steep mountains, usually with a river flowing through it) has “ancient” (very old) rock structures, roads, and “rock art” (art painted onto rocks) that “date back to” (are from in time) between 900 and 1150 AD.

New Hampshire is home to “America’s Stonehenge” (named after the more famous Stonehenge in England), also known as Mystery Hill, where there are several stone structures and “artificial” (made by humans, not by nature) “caves” (large open spaces inside a rock or mountain) that date back to the 17th century.

One interesting archaeological site that is “missing” (hasn’t been found yet) is that of Roanoke “Colony” (a group of people from one country living in a new land far away), also known as “the lost colony,” where 116 people disappeared from part of what is now known as North Carolina “without a trace” (without any indication of what happened, and without any indication of one’s presence) in 1585. Many people have searched for the archeological site, but so far no one has found it.

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - c