This year, the Doctor Who Christmas special has a real treat in store. Even if you’re not a fan, we can assure you, if you love archaeology, there’s a reason to watch.
From the just-released promo picture, it’s clear that the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver is finally being reintroduced. It’s also clear that he’s heading off to meet his archaeologist wife River Song and, presumably, bumps into a giant red robot somewhere along the way.
But it’s not the giant red robot, the doctor’s stylish new sonic screwdriver, or even River Song herself that’s got our attention. We’re more interested in what River appears to be holding.
Could it be… a Sonic Trowel??
She is an archaeologist after all. The question is, what the hell does it actually do?
The scriptwriters are going to have to be pretty imaginative, because these days, the modern archaeologist’s toolkit is nothing if not full of futuristic gadgets. This year alone, we’ve seen archaeologists using satellites, drones, on-the-spot radiocarbon dating devices, underground scanners, secret-chamber-detecting-devices, lasers and something even better than x-ray vision. Hell, we’ve even been using a smartphone app to beam 3D models of artefacts around the world ourselves. And tech-loving archaeologists are as likely to use any of these widgets as they are a humble trowel or spirit level.
So what will the Sonic Trowel be able to do? Infer the social structure of an entire civilisation from a single potsherd? Generate a forcefield that’s impenetrable to anyone attempting to use the past for their own evil ends? Extract artefacts, features and contexts, without actually needing to dig?
We can’t wait to find out.
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