In this lesson we will ask ourself one question, which is in mind of all of us which is the fascination of archaeology? Why does archaeology and the discovery of the past, exert such an undoubted fascination? And, is this fascination, as many believe, really in the mistery of discovery? We answer immediately and in the clearest way. Archaeology does in fact exert a great fascination on those who practice it, and in those who assist to the discoveries. But such a fascination, does not lie in the mystery of discovery. This fascination, is something that strikes the imagination, but not on the side of irrational, the mysterious, the supernatural, but rather on the side of the rational, and emotional and natural side. The first, and foremost reason for the fascination of archaeology is simply in the extreme concreteness, the concreteness of the archaeological discovery. No discovery, in fact, in natural science as well as in human sciences, is more real, more concrete and tangible, than an archaeological discovery and an excavation. The archaeological discovery is not only a discovery among all the other sciences, where literally, and realistically, something which was covered, hidden, and concealed, at the moment of the discovery is precisely unveiled and brought finally to light. If we are present at, hear about, or someone illustrates us to a discovery, so listening, for example, to an archaeological congress or an archaeological presentation of the excavations, even a sensational one, of, for example, medicine or physics, we have to make a mental effort, so to try to imagine, in order to understand what has really been discovered, and which is the importance of the discovery. Of course, in these instances, there is no physical unveiling, and no real finding. On the other hand, in fact for what concerns archaeology someone illustrates to us the, in words and images an archaeological discovery what we see or feel is something extraordinarily real and physical. Precisely, something which was beforehand concealed under the earth is discovered. What was not visible beforehand takes a shape, comes back to life, while before the discovery it was completely lost for knowledge: not only it was visible anymore, but - we may say - it did not exist anymore. In what we call field archaeology, the aim of the research is precisely the discovery itself, that is to bring back to light what was lost in the course of time, the evidences of material culture, which were deteriorated in the course of centuries, became ruins, and were concealed from sight and knowledge because they were buried under the earth produced by their collapses, and heaped up by wind and weather. Yet, in fact, the discovery not only is something of great fascination, and great attraction, it also yields great responsibilities. In fact, in field archaeology, in order to discover and bring back to light any evidence of simple routine and little value, or of an extraordinary importance, and great meaning, it is necessary to free it from the earth covering it and which has heaped up around, and over the evidence during the centuries. So, a very patient work. The earth, which is necessary the carry away, in order to bring back to light the evidence, is not neutral, or irrelevant, on the other hand, because it contains much information of any kind, which has to be single out, registered, and interpreted. The earth, as archaeologists say, is the archaeological context, so is the real material we are dealing with, and it if is necessary to remove it, it must on the other hand be analysed with great care, in order not to lose precisely the data about the archaeological context. But again, which information is to be found in the archaeological context of the finding? Are they really precious and essential, or rather are they negligible? How can it be obtained that they are not lost, if they are included in the earth which is removed and brought away? These informations contained in the archaeological context are countless, precious and in fact essential, and, somehow, they can be collected in proportion with methods, and techniques of excavation, which can be used by excavators. Of course, these informations change in relation with the kind of find one is dealing with, whether a building, or an object, or simply, for example, a pit of an excavation. Let's, for example, think of a simple building, a house unit, here for example in this slide you have a magnificent example of the so-called domestic unit of the excavation at Ebla, in Syria, and so, a house unit, a dwelling house in the ancient town Ebla, in a relatively good state of preservation, with, in fact, walls still standing for about one meter in height, and made of mud bricks. The earth of the archaeological context includes, in this instance, information of primary importance, referring, in the simplest way, and mentioning only the most important data to three sets of evidence at least, each of which is an indispensable contribution to the interpretation, and reconstruction of the history of that house within the sphere of the culture to which it belonged, so, across time. In the first place, in the archaeological depositof its ruins, if adequately observed,organic material are included, for example, vegetable, animal, and human remains, which by means of procedures of scientific inquiry based on the observation of the carbon isotope, the so-called C14 dating, decays in time according to regular rhythm, allow to reconstruct, through with some approximatation, the date of the death of those vegetables and those old materials, or animals and thus, quite likely, also of the time when the house ceased to be inhabited. In third place, as you can see here, the same vegetables and animal remains of the archaeological deposit, upon opportune observation and analysis that are carried out, are a basic source in the field of the so called bio-archaeology, for the reconstruction of agriculture, husbandry, diet, health, and so in general, of many aspects of the economy and society of the inhabitants that were leaving in that houses. These observations about only the major aspects of ancient life for which the analysis of the archaeological deposit provides a really precious and indispensable data and elements of the evidence let us, in fact, infer that, as already maintained, the archaeologist's activity, though it certainly has a great fascination, always implies a really great responsibility. These responsibilities in the practical operations of archaeology, do not only, or almost only, belong, as may be imagined, to the level of those who in the practice of field archaeology, are charged with the direction, or the co-ordination of an excavation. Of course, the archaeologist who directs an excavation has very high responsibilities, because he has to decide, of course, the strategy of the excavation, to define its scopes and aims of the research, and to chose the excavation methods, to distribute individual charges, but all the archaeologists involved in an activity of field archaeology have similar responsibilities because, in this particular profession, also the persons responsible for even a very restricted excavation unit must take swift, and well-based decisions about the time and modes of removal of the archaeological deposits. The paradox of field archaeology is that, in order to bring back to light whichever artifact, the earth covering it must be removed, and thus all the archaeological context of that artifact must be destroyed and this is a real big matter of archaeology, so archaeology, as you can see, is not only discovery but discovery become real, through a process of destruction. And for this reason, it is correctly maintained that in many excavation operation, even the most accurate one, one produces, at the same time, a discovery and of course a destruction. Each excavation operation, in fact, is also a destruction because the archaeological context cannot be saved like the artifact during the operation and most importantly the archaeological excavation and the process of excavation cannot be reproduced twice. Yet, in fact, during the excavation, the archaeological deposit, which is the archaeological context of the artifacts which are being brought back to light must be taken and removed in such a way to single out, recover, study and interpret, any element of evidence it contains, at least in relation with the scientific knowledge of time. In modern field archaeology, therefore, the archaeological discovery is associated with the recovery of any possible element of evidence included in the archaeological deposit excavation. The archaeological discovery, in modern archaeology, is inextricably linked with the comprehensive recovery of the archaeological context itself. From these considerations it is quite patent why archaeologists consider clandestine and illicit digging a true and serious crime. These diggings are made by seekers of objects, or rather treasures, for mere commercial aims and use, outside all the research rules of modern scientific research, because in that kind of excavation the destruction of the archaeological context is most serious and absolutely complete. All the most precious information are therefore irremediably lost and for that reason this is the most tremendous and tragic criminal activity.