Reflecting on 2013

I said this time last year that this was a scary year, and that I was determined to meet it head on. That worked pretty well until the summer, when a combination of things (but mostly looming end of contract nerves) sent me into a bit of a downspiral, where, true to form, I stopped writing and posting pictures and mostly hid under a rock.

I am doing something about it all though. I’m just not going to talk about it too much here. But I do want to show you some of the awesome things that the second half of 2013 held for me, because it wasn’t all bad, not by a very long way.

My last #project52 post was week 35, where I talked a bit about the deep funk I was in, and about failing joyously. So that leaves me 17 weeks to find pictures for, if I have them…

 

Week 36: I went to EAA in Pilsen. Tried to organise a tweet-up and mostly failed, but got to go to some wonderful sessions, tweeted a lot, and had brilliant wide ranging discussions over a number of great dinners with colleagues. I also got to go on a whistle-stop tour of Prague, which was brilliant and I want to go back.

Week 36 - Gargoyles at Prague Castle

Week 36 – Gargoyles at Prague

 

In week 37 my brother came to visit on his way to the UK. We kept a pact made earlier in the year and got matching tattoos…

You Can Never Go Home

Week 37a You Can Never Go Home

You Can Never Go Home

Week 37b You Can Never Go Home

It is both an irreverent reference to Grosse Pointe Blank and to our odd status as nomads…

In Week 38 me and the wonderful Esther mouse-proofed my kitchen so that they didn’t take over and build an empire while I was away on fieldwork:

week 38: None shall pass!

week 38: None shall pass!

Then I ran away on fieldwork, for almost two months. The first week (week 39) we were there I was ill (some sort of Georgian plague from my brother) and did a lot of preparation work and some EM surveys. On the ‘rest day’ we went hiking on the Timpa Cassano:

Week 39: Timpa San Lorenzo from the Timpa Cassano

Week 39: Timpa San Lorenzo from the Timpa Cassano

Week 40 saw a lot of caesium magnetometry in some very ploughed fields:

 

Week 40- ploughed fields and moody skies

Week 40- ploughed fields and moody skies

Week 41 saw colleagues from the BSR arrive to employ some techniques and expertise I don’t have myself!

Week 41: ERT with the BSR to investigate archaeology in lynchets

Week 41: ERT with the BSR to investigate archaeology in lynchets

By week 42 they had departed for another project on Sicily and me and my colleagues carried on with data collection in the foothills… some ceramic surveys, some geophysics and a trip to Matera!

Week 42: Matera, Sassi in the foreground, neolithic caves on the other side of the gorge

Week 42: Matera, Sassi in the foreground, neolithic caves on the other side of the gorge

 

In week 43 the whole team moved up into the mountains to continue our work. Matt celebrated his birthday without me in the UK, while I climbed a mountain on our ‘rest day’

Week 43: Top of the Falconara

Week 43: Top of the Falconara

 The tail end of week 44 saw me head to Rome to guest-lecture at the KNIR, a real privilege, and a lot of fun. I also got to go and visit the Via Appia, a first for me! I then headed back to the Netherlands.

Week 44: yours truly on the Via Appia, looking oddly foreshortened

Week 44: yours truly on the Via Appia, looking oddly foreshortened

Week 45 was a lot of frantic prep at work before heading to the UK in week 46, but I did find time to go and listen to cool music with Esther & Arno 🙂

Week 45: Folk music with Esther and Arno

Week 45: Folk music with Esther and Arno

Week 46 involved a trip to the UK, and my usual November weekend in a Castle playing silly games. This (of course) meant the hair needed to be rendered ‘interesting’ again, now fieldwork was over for the year:

Week 47: a return to winter plumage

Week 46: a return to winter plumage

 

Week 47 saw me still in the UK. Amongst other things, Matt and I went to Leavsden studios to see the Harry Potter exhibition. I would highly recommend it!

Week 47: Tig and Lola have a potions lesson

Week 47: Tig and Lola have a potions lesson

Week 48 involved a lot of running around, including a trip to Amsterdam, where I indulged my apple pie addiction:

Week 48: PIE!

Week 48: PIE!

Weeks 49 and 50 sadly don’t have pictures. It was too dark, cold and nasty to feel like doing much. In week 51, my beloved M arrived and so I got the Christmas tree ready:

Christmas tree with baleful dragon (scarf)

Christmas tree with baleful dragon (scarf)

Since then we have been mostly hanging out, baking, playing board games and making all of our new lego. There are still a couple of days to go before the end of week 52, so I’ll leave it there for now. I might try to have a hunt for pictures from weeks 49 and 50 – there might be some lurking that I have forgotten about.

So, be excellent to each other & have a great New Year.

Writing this post has made me realise I’ve not uploaded any of the autumn fieldwork pictures to Flickr yet, so I am off to set that going while Matt and I play board games x x

 

 

Planning for EAA2013: Pilsen

So, one reason for coming out from the woodwork is to try to organise a tweetup for this year’s EAA meeting next week, in Pilsen.

I expect a lot of people are arriving on the Wednesday, like me, and as we’re driving from the Netherlands I can’t guarantee what time I’ll be there, so after chatting with @LornaRichardson, we figure Thursday, after the sessions (including the big Public Archaeology session) but before the drinks party.

We aren’t aiming for anything super formal – just a chance to put faces to twitter handles and say hi in person. So, I’ll be the (very) blonde person with the idiot grin and a sign, outside the entrance to building 1 from about 18:45 (to allow for sessions running over), on the Thursday! Come up and say hi- I assure you it’s not possible to be any more socially awkward than I am 🙂

I’m going to have a really busy conference- all three members of the main project I work on have a paper, on all three days, and on top of that we are co-running a round table with Andy Bevan about Rural sites & methodology. So I plan to tweet, but perhaps not proper ‘live tweeting’ like I attempted from ISAP and CAANLDE- I also need to concentrate on taking notes and getting into the discussions, especially in the round-table.

If you are at EAA please come to the round table (Far from the Madding Crowd A15, Friday afternoon) if it sounds like you sort of thing! We have a great panel with representatives from loads of different geographical regions and periods, all looking at the methodological issues affecting the interpretation of small rural sites. We think the discussion is going to be quite fruitful, in terms of agreeing priorities for research, and learning from other specialisms.

In addition, Martijn is talking in the session on lithics & landscapes (A27) on Thursday morning, Wieke is talking in the session on non-invasive methods on Saturday morning (B10), and I’m just after lunch in the session on geophysics and later prehistory on saturday afternoon (A20). I’m looking forward to seeing colleagues, exploring a new city and country, and getting to go and listen to papers about all the stuff I don’t get to do much of any more: bodies, gender and cold war stuff!

(non-archaeology folks- you might want to mute me from Thursday to Saturday next week!)

There is no try… the #ISAPafterparty and beyond

One of the things I said I needed to do regarding the #yearofyoda was to start being more proactive in my research career and putting my ideas and professional stance across more strongly and confidently. Boy, is it terrifying. If you follow my twitter feed you’ve probably seen an extended conversation that started at the ISAP biannual conference in Vienna last week, about a lot of serious (and not so serious) aspects of and issues in archaeological geophysics at the moment.

One of the things I agreed to do was post up a series of open documents laying out my ideas in a more expansive forum than twitter’s 140 characters, to try to keep the impetus generated at the conference going. I’ve just posted them up on an openly shared google docs folder that you can find here. I welcome any feedback and I’ll try to keep them updated with what everyone adds, keeping my own opinions clearly demarcated. It’s a little bit scary, all of this. In some ways, I don’t feel like I have the experience or the authority to set an agenda in this way. I’m hoping people I perceive to have more ‘gravitas’ will join in and I can at least act as a collecting point, a facilitator!

In other news, me and my brain have had a bit of an interesting time. Vienna was a good distraction from all that, and getting back in touch with other people working in geophysics was really good for some of the confidence issues I have been experiencing. Various things have gone a bit ‘wrong’ since getting back from Italy and I am determined this week to get back on track, to eat healthily, sleep properly and focus hard at work and on making plans for next year. This week’s photo is a little taste of life in the Netherlands. Here in Groningen we have ‘city sheep’ that belong to the city council and keep the verges and canal-sides trimmed. I was walking home from the shops yesterday to find them all penned in the park behind my house, getting their annual haircut!

#project52 week 23 City Sheep!

#project52 week 23 City Sheep!

Summer is here!

But it didn’t arrive last week while I was in Vienna.  Instead we had torrential rain that pushed this May into being their wettest ever, and they had some awful flooding elsewhere in the country. The conference was very good. I saw a lot of old friends, made some new ones, and got to talk geophysics and archaeology and science and cool things for a whole week, without anyone suggesting it was boring 🙂

We got to go on two excursions. The one to Carnuntum was pretty cool, with the reconstructed baths, and the wine to taste, but the one I really loved was to a place called the Heldenberg, which houses the strangest tomb (with the strangest back-story) I think I have ever visited, and a reconstruction of a Kreisgrabenanlage (“circular ditched enclosure”) – a neolithic monument of a type that appears all over central europe, along with some houses based on excavated ground plans. Prehistory is where my heart really is, and though the baths were spectacular I was such a happy little geek, bouncing about the circle and the palisade and peering up in the roofs, looking at axe facets on the hewn wood and generally grinning like an idiot, as the picture below shows.

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Me in the rain at the Heldenberg
#project52 week 22

As you can see it was rather wet. And I didn’t care. At all.

One of the reasons this post is a bit late is because I didn’t get back home until week 22 had been over for an hour and a half. The other reason is that there has been a lot of post conference chat and things are afoot (duh dun der!) that I hope to blog about in more detail- if you follow my twitter you’ve probably seen some of the discussion. So I’ve been a bit too busy to sit and write until now. I actually need to go and do more on that front now, so I’ll sign off but will write again before the end of the week to keep up with the #project52 malarkey.

Three weeks in Calabria…

This is a really quick post to put up my #project52 pictures before I run off to Italy again tomorrow, this time for a short holiday with my beloved, who has never been before. I am almost unreasonably excited about showing him around Rome for the first time and watching him have all of these amazing ‘firsts’… On the MUST DO list: The Pantheon, The Forum, The Crypto Balba Museum, Castel San Angelo and Gelato from San Crispinos… have you got any quirky/unusual suggestions to add to our list?

As you know, I went to Calabria for fieldwork. The weather was better than we were hoping, we got all of the work done, but one of my bits of kit died fairly early on in the trip, and we didn’t find a lot of archaeological anomalies. The landscape, the company and wonderful local friends more than made up for any minor frustrations though. We ate agnello, went caving, climbed precipitous things and did a survey at 1400m at an amazing place called Trizzone della Scala. There are a LOT of (mostly unedited and undescribed so far) pictures on my Flickr account, but here are my three picks for #project52….

Wieke on Trizzone della Scala #project52 week 13

Wieke on Trizzone della Scala #project52 week 13

Week 13 is my colleague Wieke portering my FM onto Trizzone della Scala… I love this photo because it gives you some idea of the height we were at, and of the crazy topography we needed to go over to get there. This is why the FM is on her backpack- there were places where I really needed both hands!

On the way to Grotta della Camastra #project52 week 14

On the way to Grotta della Camastra #project52 week 14

This was the most ‘interesting’ bit of our hike/climb to get to a really cool cave. I needed a lot of help to get past where the lead guy is standing in this picture- at one point I was too scared to try. Fortunately, that ‘lead man’ is our friend, expert speleologist and mountaineer Nino Rocca. He’s amazing, and has at least one mountain goat in his ancestry…

The reason I was quite so nervous is more apparent when you look at the view in the other direction:

View of Francavilla Marrittima and the plain of Sibari from half way up the Serra del Gufo

View of Francavilla Marrittima and the plain of Sibari from half way up the Serra del Gufo

The last week was a bit more relaxed, with only one trek up a serious hill, and we spent a lot of time at my favourite place, Mandrone Di Maddalena, which is right where the Raganello river forces its way through a geological fault.

Yours truly making notes on a huge rock that forms part of an enclosure at Mandrone #project52 week15

Yours truly making notes on a huge rock that forms part of an enclosure at Mandrone #project52 week15

And now I have to run to work to be in time to supply early birthday cakes for my colleagues at morning coffee ^_^

Gone digging (well, not exactly)

Just a short note as I am doing my last minute hovering about the house stressing about whether I have packed enough layers, if the cold weather is going to affect our travel plans tomorrow. We aren’t exactly digging on this campaign- soil research, geophysics and field survey are the order of business until April 16th.

The week kind of got taken over by little jobs so I’m also behind on work, but I guess it will give me something to do in the evenings. We’ll be up in the mountains, staying in a village called San Lorenzo Bellizi. This means that I’ll be unlikely to have even limited internet access so I’ll be out of the loop for a week, though I’ll try to tweet by text. If you need me, you’ll have to call.

Be excellent to each other!

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#project52 week 12

A late #project52 post

#project52 week11

This should have been posted over the weekend, but I couldn’t seem to find the time to sit down and write, and there isn’t a lot to say about last week. I felt blue, didn’t go running, and lost faith in myself a bit. I sort-of predicted that last week… But I’m wondering if there isn’t an element of fear of success in there somewhere.

Anyhow, enough with the navel gazing. Last Tuesday was a fun day. I took two of my student assistants out to the local park to do some testing of a pair of second-hand FM256’s that we bought towards the end of last year. We want to do some surveys in rocky upland environments, so we need something light and maneuverable rather than something designed for speedy coverage. I had so much nostalgia- it’s been ages since I worked with Geoscan instruments and their very particular repertoire of beeps and whistles took me back to so many fun PhD (and before) memories.

We were also visited by no less than 15 species of bird (that we could identify) within an hour or so of arriving. It made all of the snow and cold hands worth it.