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03 October, 2010

Archaeology of Gender

This weekend, digging up yet more lawn to make way for a garlic patch and more blueberry bushes, I ran across some artifacts.

Based on its stratigraphic position just above some concrete from the driveway, it is from construction or early occupation of the house. I know also that the house was built in AD 1979.

Beverage containers are common at both construction sites and habitations from the last quarter of the 20th Century, so the artifact type does not really help determine who may have dropped it. In the Southeast where I grew up, a TAB can is diagnostic of a female presence, but in late-1970s Olympia, who's to say? Maybe there were guys on construction crews who worried about their figures.

However, in the same context I also recovered a pink plastic pin identified by a female of the appropriate age as belonging to plastic/foam hair curlers. By 1979, the Brady Bunch may have made it OK for guys to have perms, but not to wear curlers, especially while working construction.

These finds, along with the conspicuous absence of beer bottle shards, lead me to believe that the original occupation of this house was by women.

[NOTE. I don't really believe that. I just was stoked to find a can of Totally Artificial Beverage. But there are plenty of archaeologists who will make similarly specific interpretations based on even scantier evidence.]


  1. Dude ! An embarrassment of riches on the MT Blog ! Wish my attempts were so well written/thought out/funny.

    Saw this last night on PBS and thought of you:

  2. And no, not just cuz ya'll share wicked beards