Finally got my MSc result

I passed with a distinction :blush: !

Worth waiting four months to find out.

Champagne (a birthday gift from a lovely friend) and picnic on the common to celebrate later.

I tried  to celebrate last night (we were out for a friends 30th) but after queueing for 2 hours to get into the selected nightclub I’d lost my sense of fun (!) and called it a night and left everyone to it 😦

I will write up last weekends conference, probably tomorrow morning.

Conferences Galore!

Well, Unquiet Lands on Saturday was great. I saw really thought provoking papers and there was good discussion about the points people were making.

I’m going to write up the details properly soon, because at the moment I’m working on presentations to our internal Graduate conference within my school in a fortnight, as well as getting ready to start my first fieldwork!

Dancing with the usual suspects on Saturday night was fun, and I had a great afternoon on the common lazing around with Cas yesterday I was so relaxed I even let her take a photo of me!)

I’m at home today working on the aforesaid presentations and reading up about my first case study…

… and listening to the new Nine Inch Nails album, which is great!

I’ve also added some more poetry

The Usual Suspects

I’m getting ready for a big meeting with both my supervisors tomorrow (!) and so have not had the time to write anything much. I’ll be at the Unquiet Lands conference which is being hosted by my university and the Prehistoric Society over this weekend.

Monday is a special day, and for those in the know the usual suspects will be heading out to the Dungeon on Saturday night in celebration.

I will hopefully have some news about fieldwork and case studies after the meeting tomorrow, so fingers crossed everyone!

The Intro and The Outro- CAA 07 Report

So, I’m a week late with this.

I wanted to have my conference write up done while everything was still fresh in my mind, but when I got back I had people to catch up with (some of whom I don’t see too often) and in the day times really had to get ready for my next meeting with my supervisor, so now is the first time I’ve really felt I could take the time out to write.

Maybe a week’s reflection will make this a bit more ordered and tidy?

I’m going to actually turn it into a post for each day- there are quick links below to each one. It’s just that otherwise there will be far too much text in one place for anyone to read sensibly or comment on.

Sunday 1st

Monday 2nd

Tuesday 3rd

Wednesday 4th

Thursday 5th

Friday 6th

Overall thoughts:

The architecture in Berlin is fascinating; from the huge open streets (to drive tanks down, apparently) to the juxtaposition of very modern and daring with the medieval and faux-ancient. It seemed more daring, and the use of lighting was also very cool. I’d love to go back with a better camera because some of the night light-scapes were just astounding.

Public transport was brilliant. Cheap, clean, reliable and really good coverage of the whole city pretty much 24/7. I didn’t have to worry about missing the last bus as there was no ‘last bus’ apart from on Sundays and public holidays.

Germans do really good Italian food, and really good kebabs and falafel.

I really like wheat beer but it makes me poorly.

That part of Europe is really flat!

Sunday 1st

I boarded the coach here for Heathrow at 10.30am. Really early- my flight didn’t go till 16.00 but National Express advised large amounts of leeway in case of traffic. Net result- I end up sitting in departures for 3 hours reading the Iliad and being talked to by crazy Aussie guys who are heading to Norway to experience Husky Sledding!

The flight was good- clear skies all the way so a good view of the city. I hadn’t realised this part of the world was so flat- last summer I was in Italy and the flight out and back both crossed the Alps. The landscape, even from so high up, was very different.

I met up with MarkD in baggage reclaim and we headed off with our limited German into the early evening to find food and our respective beds. After sausage and chips, German street-food style (and very tasty!) we headed off our respective ways on the U-Bahn.

When I finally arrived at my hostel (a good way out of the city centre but really close to the conference centre), the office was shut and there were some instructions (in German) and some keys. A middle aged couple (who I later discovered were from Munich) helped me summon up the night-porter-type-person who got me a room for the night sorted out and in his limited English managed to tell me reception would fix at nine the next morning. The couple from Munich spoke no English but still managed to realise that I needed help, and summon it for me! I was so grateful and felt awful that I couldn’t thank them properly.

I went to bed…

Monday 2nd

I woke, and a very apologetic reception lady got me into the right room, sorted out my receipt and I relaxed! I had breakfast (bitter orangey yoghurt, muesli and then bread rolls with meat and cheese, and strong coffee) and headed off to the Free University of Berlin to register and pick up my pass. Very generously, our conference pass also got us free public transport and free entry to the state museums for the week. No papers were scheduled for the Monday, so Mark, Eleftheria, Matt, Hembo and I headed off into the city to Schloss Charlottenburg and the museum of prehistory.

We had a guided tour with a really good guide, she knew her stuff very well and was able to answer all kinds of questions, about provenance (a lot of the pieces were from 18th and 19th century ‘art markets’) and politics (a lot of the items on display were replicas of pieces taken by the Russians after the end of WWII). A bit of me wondered if it was OK to complain about the Russians ‘stealing’ things that had essentially been looted in the first place…

I saw some amazing prehistoric weapons and armour (I’ve yet to put all of the pictures I took on flickr, but they’ll go up soon if anyone is really as interested as me 😀 ). The really amazing bit was probably the Schliemann collection- the finds from the city that is supposed to be Troy. Especially as I’m working my way through the Iliad at the moment, seeing the drinking vessels, the helms and swords. Quite special.

We went to an Italian (!) place for lunch and then headed further into town as we had to get to the official reception at the Foreign Office.

We just about made it on time to this odd set of buildings. We went through (very tight) security in one modern building, walked through it and out into a courtyard and then over into this gigantic modern/ neoclassical concrete mongrel of a building which basically contained a huge vault of a space as an ante-room, all flat and marble and glossy, and then another huge shiny vault with side aisles, almost like and atheist’s cathedral. A very odd space.

Then the speeches started. Everyone said thank-you to everyone else, at least twice, and at some great length. I think the special award goes to Steve Stead for the brevity and directness of his speech! We then descended on an enormous buffet laid on for us and started on the wine and beer! I met up with the other Antiquisters and got to meet Chris P in a situation other than being lectured to! We hob-nobbed for a while and I caught up with some people from Southampton, and previous UK chapter conferences, which was really good.

Then Leif, like the Pied Piper (and having lived in Berlin for four years) took us all off on a merry dance. We went to Unter den Linten just as the sun was setting and I got some great photos (phone-camera notwithstanding) of the amazing light on the gold panels of the Cathedral. We tried to get into the Tajik tearooms (more of this later, oh yes!) but they were full. We ended up in a Bavarian restaurant/pub, outside in a square drinking wheat beer and eating Bavarian food (pig and dumplings and cabbage mainly!). At some point the Schnapps was called for… Once that had set in (!) some people felt we should call it a night and headed off for sleep, whilst the rest of us followed Leif off on a walking tour. He took us through the ‘trendy’ district and past the most notorious squat in Berlin, at which point Jens took up an alarming noticeable rant about how it might well be ‘the finest most famous anarchist squat in Berlin but how can they charge three euros to go inside’. I’m afraid discretion took the better part of valour for me and I headed off to the suburbs and my bed.

Tuesday 3rd

The first session of the day I decided to attend the round table on open source. It was interesting to get the perspective of the IT professional, the commercial unit and the academic on open source, and it was also interesting to take part in the ‘robust’ discussion we had about the evangelical (according to some) nature of the open source advocates. My conclusion is that sometimes, open source is best, and as an ideal, it’s great, but there are times when for a whole host of reasons (interoperability, who holds the money, functionality) it isn’t the best choice. I’m particularly interested in the open source movement and its growing place in archaeology as I think open source software is going to be quite important to my PhD research.

I spent the rest of the day in the first geophysics session, which was about new field methods. The papers were all well put together and presented, and certainly showed some interesting sites and results, but I didn’t feel there was any ‘big revelation’. The work being done by the SEMAP 3D team sounds quite new and exciting, but it is a marine application and not really my field. It did make me think again about the possible resolution of seismic data though, and has made me think twice about exploring it as an option for my work. The other interesting thing was reports from a Swedish team about geophysics in rescue archaeology (I got the impression that geophysics is not really part of the ‘mainstream’ in Sweden as yet). They had been able to get results from drift geology (sands) through 2m think layers of Viking occupation using caesium magnetometers and georadar, with good results confirmed by excavation. There was also a paper about resistivity work undertaken in Meroe, Sudan, that used ground watering to help with making good ground contact. Controlling moisture levels at this scale is also of potential relevance to my work.

All in all, I got the impression that to see really new geophysics papers and techniques I need to go to ISAP in September, so watch this space!

ArchCamp was postponed until Thursday so after drooling over and amazing 3D printer at the ‘booths’ from the companies, we headed into the city again. This time Leif took us to an amazing little pub / café. Some of the guys from L&P joined us. The schnitzel people ordered at Leif’s urging were bigger than the plates they came on! We left quite late and in some cases considerably rounder than when we had arrived.