Journal Account from volunteer Dawud Johnson – 8th January 2014

I’m 28 years old. I got involved in the project because a friend mentioned it to me: I don’t go this mosque, I go to one in Lewisham. The brother said that there was going to be some archaeology going on and I was interested and had some time on my hands and so I decided to get involved. I’ve done the training and found it very interesting. And even out on site I’ve enjoyed it. It was an opportunity to do something different and I like to be varied and to be able turn my hand to different things and I suppose it’s a good thing to have on your CV, something that’s certainly a bit different. I’m a personal trainer but I’m very interested in history and find it fascinating. I think that there is so much that we can learn from history, mistakes that were made in the past, and stop us from repeating them again.


The training seemed all rather familiar, maybe because I’ve worked on construction sites before, some of the health and safety and some of the more general historical things from my own knowledge, from things I’ve been researching recently. And, also, things that I learnt in school such as about the Babylonians and Egyptians. I’m interested in ancient civilisations and cultures, right the way back to what some consider as the mother of civilisation, Babylon. And it relates to today’s times – that is what fascinates me the most.


The site has been interesting and we’ve uncovered more than I thought we would. We had some interesting finds and the burials. As a Muslim there’s an issue to do with digging up graves. Archaeology is a more respectful way to be dealing with them because if there were construction workers on the site the burials probably won’t be noticed and the remains would end up in a dump somewhere. Archaeologists dig carefully and show respect. I don’t get involved in digging around the bones I’m happy to leave that to the professional archaeologists.  But I still found it very interesting though. As a Muslim we’re taught that every soul shall taste death so it’s a reminder of what’s to come, our mortality.


I knew one brother who left due to the graves. But the other brothers hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting him before we started the training. We’ve all got on very well because of Islam which in many ways is thicker than blood. We’ve got a close brotherhood and it should be like this throughout the whole world. Unfortunately, it’s not the case but God willing, Insha’Allah, things will change. This is what it’s like to be a Muslim, we have a strong brotherhood. We’re taught to greet each other and just simple things like smiling at your brother is considered a charity in Islam, shaking hands and saying As-salam alaykum, Peace upon you. Generally, that seems to be something that is being forgotten but Islam brings us back to that.


I’m very interested in many aspects of life: in training, in helping people to get fit and healthy but I’ve always had an interest in history in particular, and genealogy is very interesting to me. I’m a man who likes to find out facts, facts that aren’t always told to us – I like to get to the bottom of things. There’s a lot of dogmas today, it’s a time where there is so much information given to us and we’re kept so busy that we can’t always check this information. If it’s repeated four, five, six, seven times, a lot of us will just take that information as truth and that’s very dangerous. Was it Adolf Hitler who said that if a [big enough] lie is repeated enough times it will be believed? We find so many lies repeated through the media. Before you know it they’ve been taken as the truth. No one really bothers to get to the bottom of things, even a lot of the reporters. They hear the official stories and put them into their own words but don’t tend to question the authorities. It’s more the bloggers that do but then they don’t get the publicity. Even at the highest levels of these newspaper companies they are not independently run and there so many interesting things out there which can change ideas, can change perceptions or even change people’s behaviour and the world but they’re not interested in that, they like to just show us the more mundane and trivial things. A lot of times we know from history that governments have used the media to get laws put in place, that they’ll place a story that is connected to the laws they want to implement.


Archaeology is about finding out and lots of people I’ve spoken to have said that they were interested in it: interested is the word so many people use where archaeology is concerned.