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Remembering Vere Gordon Child-Okeford

"He was certainly old school", says the University of Afpuddle's Whisky-McNightly Chair of Archeology, Professor Deepe Diggins, referring to one of his great predecessors - Professor [Vere] Gordon Child-Okeford - who we remember today on the 75th Anniversary of his death in May 1945. Child-Okeford is perhaps Dorset's most famous archaeologist after Howard Threadboneham-Carter whose discovery of the tomb of Pharoah Tutankh'piece in the 1920's later earned him an appearance on Dorset Radio's prestigious All Our Good Old Down Your Way Yesterdays. Child-Okeford discovered, instead, several fallen pillars and assorted [disputed] animal remains at the site of Temple of Apollo Hylates in the Peloponnese which he excavated annually between 1934 and his death in 1945.

Professor [Vere] Gordon Child-Okeford - a figure from another era and cut from a very different cloth.

"The cavalier way in which he went about his business, his reliance on instinct and his attitude to his workers are all from a very different era", Professor Diggins continues, recalling that one of the late Professor Child-Okeford's best-remembered adages was: "It may be hot, it may be dusty, they may be tired and they may even be hungry; it may be backbreaking and it may certainly be pointless but that's no reason why those greasy little kalamari-eating fuckwits should stop digging". Not a sentiment, Professor Diggins hastens to add, that one could get away with in today's more modern, caring and socially-responsible [surely socially-distancing? [SubEd]. Absolutely not you tit [Ed]] archaeological world, where virtual digging has almost entirely replaced spade and trowel work and where the most exploited worker is likely to be the guy who maintains the office coffee machine.

The site of Temple of Apollo Hylates in the Peloponnese in about 1920 well-before Professor Child-Okeford's annual excavations began. Scholars believe that the site had already yielded everything it had to offer, making his presence there both puzzling and suspicious..

That we know so much about Professor Child-Okeford's method, character and philosophy is due to a now long forgotten memoir published by his young assistant and then-recent University of Afpuddle graduate, Tarrant Gunville, who's In a Dry Season records in almost painful detail the trial, tribulations and [very] occasional triumphs of working with Child-Okeford in the Peleponnese in the late 1930s. By a happy coincidence, it is about to be reprinted by the Threadbone Press as part of its Archaeology As We Used To Know It series. Future titles will include: Heinrich Schliebone's Working With The Kaiser: A History of Trenches up until 1916 and Arthur Evans-Abbov's Wake Me Up if You Find Anything.


Our Archeological Correspondent adds:

Hylates (Greek: Υλάτης) was a god worshipped uniquely on the island of Cyprus who was later likened to the Greek God Apollo. His name probably derives from ὑλακτέω [ʰylaktéō] "barking“ or ὕλη [ʰýlē] "forest“, which is why Lebek calls him Apollo of the woods. He was worshipped from the 3rd century BC until the 3rd century AD. The fact that he was a God recognised only in Cyprus and that the Peloponnese excavations recovered material only from the 4th century BC makes Child-Okeford's identification of the Temple's attribution highly questionable, which is to say, completely wrong.

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