This New Year’s message has grown from a conversation at DV HQ between Brendon, Lisa and Raksha one afternoon after our dig at Leiston Abbey in July. We always experience a period of mourning after the end of a dig; all that time on site doing what we love, meeting fabulous folk from around the world. And then we have to leave! We were reflecting about how great it is that we keep hearing from so many of you throughout the year, keeping us updated about who’s out there doing archaeology. Keep it up, peeps. We’re so proud!
And so we would like to begin an auspicious 2014 with a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to the DigVentures community. Our funders, our diggers, our digital participants, and every single one of you who has shared the newsletter, clicked ‘like’ on a blog or news story, or spread the word by forwarding our info to a friend. You inspire and motivate us to keep going, and with your help, we have been able to deliver not only important excavations and research, but also innovations in field skills training and funding for archaeology. An archaeology community has been built to do community archaeology: more archaeology has been done, and more people have learned how to do it. Result!
Let’s dial it back to the beginning in February 2012: Flag Fen Lives. An amazing site (and Francis Pryor!). Archaeology under threat. Banks failing, countries failing, the government failing archaeology and archaeologists. We all wondered if the world was about to end. But out of this crisis, we saw an opportunity – or ‘crisitunity’, according to Homer Simpson – to do things a bit differently, to go directly to the people who love archaeology and want the chance to support it. And so Lisa quit her job, we rolled the dice to create DigVentures, and tried a crazy experiment: to put archaeology in your hands.
You guys picked up the challenge and ran with it: three months after our launch, Flag Fen Lives was fully funded! The world’s first-ever crowdfunded and crowdsourced archaeological dig was under way. We can still remember the sense of elation we felt back then of connecting with people, both in person and online, who shared our passion and vision. Let’s say it again, loud and proud: the results of Flag Fen Live were astounding.
And so we thought: “This works! And we had so much fun! Let’s do it again!” Starting with the awesome Thames Discovery Programme and the Liquid History Dirty Weekend, we were on a roll for 2013. A few thousand tweets, blogs and messages, a few more Dirty Weekends, an Archaeological Photography Masterclass, and another big dig later, and we’re still in awe of just how wonderful and supportive the international community of archaeology enthusiasts can be.
The Leiston Abbey Saints & Secrets dig in July 2013: what can we say? A stunning site, working with the fantastic and inspiring people from Pro Corda, fascinating and surprising archaeology, and the loveliest English summer weather since the 1600s. And, the world’s SECOND-ever successful crowdfunded and crowdsourced archaeological dig! Once again, with archaeology in your hands, you lot made it happen.
The work at Leiston Abbey has only just begun, however, and we are so incredibly pleased to be able to confirm that we will be heading back there in July 2014. Same great campsite, same tremendous food, and plenty of new trenches to satisfy your curiosity – though we can’t promise the weather! Mark your calendars, and we’ll see you there.
The biggest priority for DigVentures is the constant search for new ways to share our passion and to bring archaeology to the public. It can be tricky, it’s not always easy, we don’t always get it 100% right, and Site Dog is forever sending out emails with typos! We can’t get him to stop. But you guys are there without fail to help us learn and do things better. Thank you, and please – keep those comments and suggestions coming. Your feedback reminds us why we do what we do.
Our year in 2014 is already shaping up with fantastic ideas, innovations, new offerings, more Dirty Weekends and Masterclasses, and of course plenty of opportunities for you to come digging with us. We have projects from around the world lining up to fund through our DigStarter platform, and we have a few surprises up our sleeves, as well!
We can’t wait to share it all (though Lisa is getting impatient – you know what she’s like!) and hopefully see many of our Venturers again soon, as well as welcoming new people to the team.
Happy New Year, lovely Venturers. Let’s make it archaeological!
Always wanted to try archaeology?
DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Support one of our digs and you can choose to watch our discoveries as they happen, or roll up your sleeves and excavate alongside our team!