Birthdays and Poems

I recently turned 34. My little brother is 30 in a few weeks, and my Dad is 60 this month. Makes me think in halves and lives and multiples…. this year I have been with my partner more than half of my life (we got started early).

Dad wrote a poem for my birthday. It made me cry in a good way. The he recorded himself reading it and it was even better.

It made some people at a poetry night cry too…

In other news- still on Crete, still not got the urge to blog very much, still on twitter and regularly sharing photos and anecdotes there…

Few and Far Between

I mentioned last time I wrote that I am not sure where this is going: the blog, that is.

The new job in Greece is amazing, but the rules here about publishing information (and especially photographs) online about in-progress work are (understandably) really strict, which kinda puts the kibosh on my usual ‘here is what I did last week’ post accompanied by mad landscape photos.

Suffice to say, the landscape is indeed mad, the people are wonderful, the food is too good (back to battling the bulge), and the bureaucracy is labyrinthine. I’ve just had my beloved out to visit for 2 weeks, and we’ve hiked, eaten, drank and museumed ourselves almost to death. I can put pictures of all of that online, because bizarrely when I visit somewhere as a tourist, I can put the snaps up online with no worries, but if I am there in any sort of work capacity, I need a license from the Ephorea. I completely understand the restrictions, and I am not complaining, but basically, if you see any pics of anything ‘old’ on my twitter or flickr for the next year or so, you can assume it’s from a weekend jaunt and not something I am working on!

Life is also very very busy. There is still a lot (way more than I am happy about) to wrap up from our project in Italy, not least of which is all the papers I need to find time to write… and somehow the ones from my PhD end up bottom of the list of priorities… again…


Windswept Acropolis / Parthenon selfie…

So, the upshot is, I’m not gonna be about on the blog much. I still probably tweet more than is good for me, so best to look up @girlwithtrowel if you want to say hi, and I’ll try to pop up here when I have something interesting to say🙂

Listlet on returning to the UK

Some observations based on the last week, in no particular order.


1. No matter how far you travel, you take yourself and all previous selves with you

2. My hayfever is much worse here. This is clearly a portent of something.

3. I am normal size here. This is good when it comes to heights of cupboards and lengths of trousers, but bad when it comes to the general health of the population.

4. There is a bewildering amount of ready-made and ready to eat food available in almost all shops.

5. 3 and 4 are perhaps related.

6. I miss my bike.

7. My grammar is still a bit Dutch.

8. I am slowly realising the mental effort it took to do ‘normal life’ in another language; such a relief not to be mentally rehearsing how I need ask for my coffee, or explain what I need.

9. I miss indy coffee bars…

10…. and the amazing market.

11. Monster Munch are amazing, still.

12. I have too many books clothes shoes everything.

All Change!

I said at the end of last year that I wasn’t all too sure where the blog was going, and I hinted that I was having some real-life issues that were making it hard to write. Still working on that bit…

A big part of all of that was not knowing what was going to happen at the end of my contract here in Groningen, and now I do know: I’ll be moving to Crete in July, for a one year Post-Doc with FORTH at the IMS working on the impact of the Byzantine periods on the settlement dynamics of the island. I am so excited by the chance to work with some role models of mine, and at the same time a bit freaked out to be moving so far away from home, linguistically and culturally as well as physically.

I don’t know how much time I am going to have to write for the next few months as I finish up work on the current two projects and also pack up my stuff and work out what to take to Crete and what goes to the UK. But I am sure that once I arrive I’ll have loads to share and will be much more ‘present’ in this online space!

In the meantime, I’m going to lurk, post when the whim takes me, but try not to feel obligated to do so.

Oh: the hair changed a lot too, so I have updated the blog  header to commemorate the blue pigtails🙂

farewell to zany hair...

farewell to zany hair…

Registration open for the Archaeology Today Symposium, April 22nd 2014

Hi everyone,

I am pleased to announce that the registration for the 21st Archaeology & Theory symposium ‘Archaeology Today’ is open! You can register by filling in the registration form on our website:
Via this link, you can also find the preliminary program and the abstracts. Please remember to register before the deadline of April 4th.

If you have any comments or questions about the registration or the program, please contact the team at

Kind regards,

On behalf of Stichting Archaeological Dialogues,

Call For Papers! Archaeology Today: Challenges, Ethics, Approaches

Hey folks, this is the easiest way I know to send a reminder about a symposium I am helping to organise. It’s being held here in NL so might not be relevant to many of you, but here goes…


Archaeology Today:

Challenges, Approaches, Ethics

Archaeology & Theory Symposium

Date: 22nd of April 2014 (deadline abstract submission: February 28th)

Venue: Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE), Amersfoort

Sponsored by ARCHON and the RCE


Stichting Archaeological Dialogues invites you to participate in a one-day forum aiming at highlighting the changing position(s) of archaeology, both in academia and in the private sector, within the contemporary socio-political context. The challenges we are facing are multifaceted and complex, with impact on archaeology as a discipline but also archaeology as a practice – including of course its practitioners! These challenges concern our relationship with the state apparatuses, with society but also with our own attitudes and responses to inescapable ethical dilemmas of practicing archaeology in rapidly-changing socio-political circumstances. How are we poised to address these challenges and where do we aim to be in the next few decades?

The present symposium aims to provide a forum for debating ideas and solutions on issues that most of us feel directly irrespective of disciplinary subdivision or field of practice. Potential contributors are asked to submit an abstract of ca. 250 words by February 28th 2014, indicating also with which theme their proposed topic is connected. We invite contributions on the following themes:

Archaeology and policy: challenges, responses, future outlook

Overhauls in public policies concerning the funding of excavations, archaeological research, teaching at universities as well as the dissemination of research (e.g. open-access publishing) affect us directly. Often this has severe repercussions, creating an environment of (professional) uncertainty and of shrinking importance of the discipline within universities. Policy-makers can have an impact on the paths that research takes. Should there be a concerted attempt to highlight, from an archaeologist’s point of view, potential disadvantages if such can be demonstrated? How can open access affect the quality of publishing? Are there ethical issues associated with broadening access to (raw) data? How can research be affected if the required outlet of publishing is in open access, when there are often significant associated costs?

Engaging the public: responsibilities, responses to problems, approaches

How should we aim to engage society with archaeology, as a source of valuable experience and powerful knowledge? Perhaps ‘catching’ the attention of the public should not be our responsibility? Nowadays it is becoming increasingly evident that ‘popular science’ magazines, websites and television have gained impetus among the wider public, casting aside more legitimate sources of learning about the past. Is it possible for professional archaeology to engage with and ‘compete’ for public attention with science fiction/highly popularized accounts of the past offered by non-archaeologists? Community archaeology would provide the affirmative answer, it would seem. What are the ethical dilemmas, however, in delegating the excavation of sites to amateur archaeologists (pensioners and schoolchildren) when many professional archaeologists are frequently unemployed or are forced to choose a different career?

Ethics in the practice of archaeology

In an era where so much of our emphasis has been on building a sound theoretical framework and codes of good practice, often geared on ‘decolonizing archaeology’, how can there be such an overt discordance between practice and theory? This is an issue often seen in situations of armed conflict. Within the past decade we have been thrust into situations that are ethically, politically and legally complex. As a professional body, we archaeologists appear to be lacking the means to address these dilemmas. How can the broader archaeological community be engaged in an open dialogue? Should we be envisaging an all-encompassing ethical code of praxis or should such decisions rest with the conscience of individuals?


  • Date: 22nd of April 2014
  • Venue: Kinderdijkzaal, Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE), Smallepad 5 in Amersfoort
  • Deadline for abstract submission: 28th of February
  • Conference fee: € 15,- (the fees of attending ARCHON student members will be paid by ARCHON)

Registration for the event will open once the program has been determined. We will keep you informed. Please email if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks for reading🙂

Blogging Archaeology: My Best and Worst

I missed the boat with January’s question from Doug, but I am going to answer it quickly anyway, because it made me think.

What are your best (or if you want your worst) post(s) and why? Compare and contrast your different bests/worsts.

My ‘best’ post in terms of pageviews is this one: which is related to my only brush with the media frenzy, and is also the first and only time I have worked under a press embargo. When I was finally allowed to tell everyone what I had been up to, my blog was linked by the discovery channel, which generated a lot of hits very fast, and no single post has beaten that one.

My ‘best’ in terms of comments is this one: which isn’t surprising because it was my clumsy attempt at voicing an opinion on a temporarily hot topic. My blog doesn’t really generate a lot of comments, which is fine, it’s not why I write.

My favourite posts are these two:

because my writing here is about different things than my day job, it’s a space to explore this more woolly stuff. The responses I got to the post about books and places were helpful to me in understanding my own position, but they certainly aren’t my ‘best’ blogs by the usual metrics. I am proud of them though, of my writing, of the chance to talk in the first person for a change and to explore my standpoint and worldview a bit. I think this is still sadly missing from mainstream academic practice, something I also wrote about here:

My ‘worst’ blogs? Well there are plenty that have no comments, plenty that have no, or not many views. But like I said, I don’t blog for the metrics. I write as a way of writing myself, and to share personal and professional news and thoughts with friends and colleagues. My ‘worst’ blogs are ones like the one I am putting off writing at the moment, where I feel I have to apologise for hiding from things for a while so me and my brain can figure some stuff out. So, I’ve been hiding since New Year, and should have written this at least 2 weeks ago (sorry Doug!) but I’ve been focused on getting to work, and working out what happens next with my life (still don’t have a clue, sorry Mum!) once the post-doc ends…. For those reasons I am probably not going to manage to answer the February ‘question’, but I hope to be firing on all cylinders again by the time March comes around.