I managed to tweet while I was away, but not blog due to a very flaky internet connection at our otherwise fine hotel in Mainz.
I’ve uploaded my 365 pictures now, but there are (a lot) more to put up which I will do from work on Monday if I get the chance. I didn’t get to take one on Monday (Day 20) as it was far too hectic- we didn’t leave Groningen until about 4pm, which meant we arrived in Mainz at about 8.30 and munched on pizza and then crashed out.
The following day we went up to the Uni and had breakfast with a new research group being kick started by Dr David Jordan to try to examine in much more detail the interplay between geoarchaeology, geochemistry and geophysics. We are really hoping the Rural Life project can make a strong contribution to this, and that the research group will really be useful to us as well. David spent the day getting people from various disciplines up to basic speed. There are geologists, pedologists and non-archaeological geophysicists involved, as well as archaeologists with varying degrees of experience of the many different sub-specialisms needed. My PhD research sits very well, in terms of my methodological and scientific approach, with the group. It was really exciting to be in a room full of people who are all crazy about the same things as me, and good to meet people from so many different disciplines, countries and backgrounds. We (naturally) went drinking afterwards- archaeologists gravitate to local beer like bees to flowers. It appears geologists do too!
On Wednesday we went out into the field to look at the bewildering variety of colours, textures and post depositional processes and archaeological site comprises of. I got to take a Kubiena sample and think I did a lot better than our messy attempts at intact sampling on Dartmoor in 2008. We also did some geophysical tests and basic chemical ones, and learned how to approach a site as part of a landscape and liaise with the archaeologist in charge. It was a brilliant, but cold day. To top it all off, the site was a series of houses from the LBK Neolithic culture- very exciting for me as we don’t have anything quite like them in the UK, but I have studied them for years in the literature. There was a lot of pottery about as well. It was one of the participant’s birthdays, so a few of us went to an awesome local pub that brew their own beer, and are located in an old ice cellar. There are pictures from that too.
On Thursday and Friday we had lab tours and looked at the amazing facilities at Mainz University. We are hoping to be able to use some of them for the Calabria research. We also spoke about our own projects and generally debated, learned and soaked up David’s accumulated wisdom. On Thursday we went to the Uni bar again, ate tasty local food (potato soup with garlic in it and very fresh cheese with onion and paprika with pretzels to dip in it), and debated some more, about the nature of science and archaeology, about why we love our various periods and specialities. I only had a couple of beers, but was on top of the world and very bouncy and happy about the choices that had led me to that place and time. I declared myself drunk on archaeology on the way back to the hotel at midnight.
I came back on the train as Wieke has gone for a little holiday with her partner for the weekend. The journey from Mainz to Dusseldorf up the Rhine gorge was amazing, with castles and watchtowers and ancient settlements and fording points. I tried to take pictures but the phone camera just wasn’t up to getting a good shot from a speeding train. The rest of the journey was uneventful, comfortable and hassle free, which is amazing seeing as I had 3 connections to make, one of which was another international service.
Today involved a lot of biking due to an error on my part. Suffice to say, Dutch banks are really odd. Or perhaps UK ones are the strange ones? I had to come back and forth to home in a hurry. I did also manage to do some laundry and a food shop and read an awful lot about previous nuclear accidents- my interest being sparked by what is happening in Japan. I’m torn by Libya. I am deeply frustrated by the west and the US in particular, choosing to intervene when it suits them, but not at other times. Like the failure to support popular uprisings after the first Gulf war, or to do anything at all about the Taliban in Afghanistan until /after/ September 11th. And I just know it will go wrong. Badly wrong. But I think the question is too big for me- I am also unsure I have the right to comment.
Tomorrow will be bike rides to the park, trying to see the amazing birds I saw a fortnight ago. I think one was a tree creeper! Monday I am back at work, but boss-less as he is away in Florence (lucky him!), and I will try to make a bit more sense of the copious notes I took this week.
I miss Matt, (and other people too) so very much, but right now, I am also very glad I took this step out of the comfortable place and into the unknown. It is so very shiny here.