Get an archaeologist to dig into the secrets of the present and there are some surprising revelations in store. He can read the history of relations between neighbours by looking at their fences. He can reconstruct our view of life by looking at how we die. He might use the example of an ancient disaster to analyse our drinking habits. Ultimately, he may be able to tell if our civilisation is going to survive.
How does an archaeologist work, when he has no documents to sift through and no-one to ask 'Why did you do that?' The archaeologist tries to look at behaviour using artefacts that are lost, left or abandoned. So what is he to make of garden gnomes? Or walls that cut cities in half? Or junkyards where you can buy spare parts for space shuttles?
In a series of six half-hour films the archaeologist, writer and presenter Max Adams takes a personal look at the Archaeology of...Now. Starting each programme by constructing an archaeological experiment in a suburban back garden, Max Adams then travels to a range of locations to see if he can understand the past by looking at the present, and shed light on us, now, by looking at the past. One such experiment will be an excarnation (the practice of sky burial; not seen in Surbiton for 2,500 years); another will be a (mock) rocket launch.
He will visit Boothill cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona to discover how the Anglo-Saxons conquered Britain. He will go to to Sicily to meet some dead people who are still very much alive. He will trigger a volcanic explosion in a pub in the middle of a Friday-night drinking session and wander among the ruins. He will rummage through people's garbage. He will make pottery, smash it, and find out what happens when it gets flushed down a toilet. And he wonders what a future archaeologist might make of a cricket pitch.
Each half-hour is thematic: The Archaeology of... Death, Crime, Failure, Leisure, Exploration and Egdes. Max's style is provoking and individualistic, with a strong vein of humour and irony. The past may never seem the same again.
As George Orwell put it: 'Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past'.