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The Beaker Gift

Last year I had to participate in a bribery training session at my workplace, part of the requirements of the University of Chester to comply with new legislation. I had to be aware of the many possibilities in my job in which I might be exposed to bribery.

Obviously I regularly have to endure a constant flow of offers of free archaeological holidays, free chauffeur-driven tours of archaeological sites, free dates with gorgeous female archaeologists, free archaeological alcohol and archaeological drugs.

Then there are free archaeology sofas and white goods, free WHS trowels and free archaeological massages. I even get offers of free archaeological snacks and chocolates.

And that is just during attendance at TAG conferences…

In the summer months I am offered bribes of free archaeological sites and monuments, free finds assemblages and even free scheduled monuments consent. Cadw, Historic England, Historic Scotland: they all want to buy me!

During term-time, not a day goes by when my  email inbox is not stacked with similar offers and I can hardly fight my way down the corridors past the various adoring students and co-workers trying to offer me bribes in the form of consumables and unmentionables.

Ok, I was once tempted to take up an offer of free archaeological chocolates, but I decided it was better to give them away… for charity…to an archaeology orphanage for potsherds without their parent contexts.

I am Untouchable.

However…. I confess that I have now erred from the course of archaeological righteousness. After all these years, I have just taken receipt of my first official archaeo-bribe. Local archaeology and heritage business Big Heritage have found a chink in my bribery-proof moral armour. They have gifted me a Beaker vessel stacked full of boiled sweets. Like a Trojan Horse, I welcomed the Beaker into my office and it sat there.

Naively, I was amused by its funerary connotations and pretty, smooth surface. I’m not a prehistorian, but archaeodeath confectionary is right up my street!

The sweets seems so innocent sitting within it. I decided to take it home and it still sat there, all innocent…

Then, all of a sudden, the sweets started leaving the Beaker and jumping into my mouth. I ate them all. Archaeo-pig!

Now I am bribed, left with an empty vessel that isn’t even a genuine pilfered antiquity. Its vacuous materiality reminds me of my utter archaeo-corruption. I am a bought Big Heritage puppet. I am now compelled to offer my unswerving loyalty to Big Heritage and all their activities.

My advice? Save yourself! Don’t make my mistakes. Beware Beaker Folk Bearing Gifts.

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