I’ve just finished reading another China Miéville book – Un Lun Dun.
This book is aimed at teenagers, but there’s plenty in it for adults too.
“Each of the houses, halls, shops, factories, churches and temples was a core of brick, wood, concrete or whatever, surrounded by a wispy corona of earlier versions of itself. Every extension that had ever been built and knocked down, every smaller, squatter outline, every different design: all hung on to existence as spectres. Their insubstantial, colourless forms shimmered in and out of sight. Every building was cocooned in its older, dead selves.”
As an archaeology student I was taught to see these spectral buildings and landscapes – ancient field systems, hut circles, hillforts, deserted villages. While digging at Clava, Richard Bradley taught us to look at landscape in a new way; to peel away the modern – the Victorian grove of trees, the towering aqueduct – to see the shape of the land, the way it might have been in prehistory.
For archaeologists, sometimes, it is the wraith buildings and landscapes that form the solid core, while the modern world flickers in and out of view.