TEA Photojournalism Competition 2023 Winner

Part of a common humanity

Roger Thomas

University of Oxford

This photograph was taken on a student field trip to the Neolithic monument complex at Avebury in Wiltshire (England). The trip was in November 2021. We had walked up to the West Kennet Long Barrow. The setting sun was low in the sky to the west. We were standing on top of the prehistoric mound, at its eastern end where the burial chamber is, when there was a sudden rain shower. Then the rain stopped, the sun came out and this extraordinary rainbow appeared, exactly in line with the long barrow. We were all stunned by the sight of it.

For me, this photograph, with the story behind it, brings out many messages about archaeology. There is the pleasure of visiting amazing places with wonderful students and colleagues. There is the invigoration that comes from walking in nature and in the fresh air, enjoying good conversation as you go. There is the chance to have extraordinary experiences, like seeing a complete rainbow from a major prehistoric tomb.

The photograph also brings to mind a fundamental aspect of archaeology. The cultures and world views of the Neolithic people we study were unimaginably different from our own - yet they were also humans like us, part of a common humanity. I like to imagine that they would have been stunned, just as we were, by the appearance of this rainbow at this special place. The long shadows seen in the photo are those of the students on the field trip. In my mind, though, they could just as easily be those of our prehistoric ancestors. They are standing far behind us but still casting their shadows into the present.

Cover photograph © Roger Thomas

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Calendar for EAA members

  • April – May: Call for nominations to the EAA Student Award circulated to the Members
  • May – June (no later than 1 August): EAA election opens
  • 1 May: Deadline for nominations to the European Heritage Prize
  • 19 May: Preliminary version of scientific programme announced at EAA2023 website
  • 1 July: Early Career Achievement Prize submissions deadline
  • 12 July: Deadline for last AM bookings cancellation (no refund after this date)
  • 12 July: Regular rate of Annual Meeting registration fee ends
  • 1 August: EAA Student Award submissions deadline
  • 1 August: TEA photo competition submission deadline
  • 2 August: EAA Secretariat sends out ballot papers to current Members
  • 30 August - 2 September: EAA 2023 Annual Meeting in Belfast
  • 1 September 12:00 CEST: Deadline for submitting votes in EAA election

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A Chat with the Secretariat: Magda Karabáš

TEA: What is your connection to archaeology?

M. Karabáš: Mainly my work for the EAA, as I am a linguist by profession. It’s true, though, that both linguistics and archaeology are part of the humanities, so I feel a sense of kinship with archaeologists! :-) In addition, I used to work as an academic and a researcher before I joined the EAA (my areas of concentration were English phonetics and phonology as well as second language acquisition), so I feel an affinity with archaeologists as fellow scientists.

TEA: What is the most important and relevant part of your work?

M. Karabáš: I’ve only recently started work for the EAA, so it’s difficult to choose just one aspect of it. What I can say is that I’m looking forward to meeting and cooperating with new people, seeing new places and learning a bit more about archaeology!

As far as specific tasks are concerned, I will be involved in the organization of EAA Annual Meetings, EAA website maintenance and answering members’ queries.

TEA: TEA: What/How does archaeology contribute to society at large?

M. Karabáš: Archaeology gives us the opportunity to learn about distant cultures and to find out how people lived and interacted with each other in the past. This knowledge is, I think, immensely valuable, as it can inform our current values and opinions, enrich our understanding of human nature and make us better human beings as a result.

TEA: Describe your workspace in five words or less.

M. Karabáš: Lively, diverse, welcoming.

TEA: What is the one piece of gear you can’t live without in the field/office?

M. Karabáš: Speakers! Listening to good music while I work helps me focus and just generally makes me happy. Music is an important part of my life.

TEA: If you could go back in time, would you go? Where and when?

M. Karabáš: If I could go back in time, I would perhaps choose the Stone Age – it might be a little scary, but I’d like to see how hunter-gatherers lived. Ever since I read Harari’s Sapiens, I’ve been interested in how much our lifestyles, thoughts and feelings have changed since the time of the ‘original man’.

TEA: What is your favourite part of your job?

M. Karabáš: I haven’t worked for the EAA long enough to have a no. 1 pick, but I really enjoy the variety of tasks I have undertaken thus far, as well as cooperations with colleagues and other EAA members. I also like any type of analytical work -organization, finding connections, studying things, putting them in order.

TEA: Do you go to archaeological sites on vacation, or do you do other things?

M. Karabáš: I like variety at work and on holiday as well. I love collecting new experiences - tasting new food, meeting new people, seeing new places – whether it is checking out a local restaurant (I’m a foodie too), admiring stunning views, taking a stroll in the woods or visiting an archaeological site.

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Photo courtesy of M. Karabáš

M. Karabáš at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo courtesy of M. Karabáš.

M. Karabáš at Κourion Amphitheater, Cyprus. Photo courtesy of M. Karabáš.