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…

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…

CALL FOR PAPERS!

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

Summary

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 toArchaeologicalDialogues@yahoo.com 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?

Practicalities

  • 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 ArchaeologicalDialogues@yahoo.com if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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

 

 

Blogging Archaeology: why on earth?

First of all, updatelet: I headed off to Italy in mid-September and was there until the start of November, and then I went to the UK for 2 weeks to have a bit of a rest. At some point soon there will be a huge #project52 update with fieldwork photos and stories. But for now, I need to write a short post if I am going to manage to join in an archaeology blogging carnival that Doug over at Doug’s Archaeology is organising ahead of the SAA meeting this year. Now there is no way I can get to SAA, but I can contribute to the session on blogging in archaeology by joining in here.

First up: as usual, a disclaimer. I’m not sure this is an archaeology blog. I didn’t set out to do that; it’s more that this is my blog, and that archaeology is a big part of me.

So! On with the November questions, before December arrives.

Why blogging? – Why did you, or if it was a group- the group, start a blog? 

I’ve rambled at length on here about why I got into archaeology, but not really in detail about how and why the blog got started. I did my MSc in Computing and Archaeology at Southampton, alongside my good friend and avid blogger Cas. At the time, she was a very active blogger and had a rich community of people hanging about on her site, talking about all sorts of things. I went to Italy at the end of my Masters to work on my first ever commercial geophysics project, and started using Flickr to share pictures with friends and family while I was gone. At the time, I used email to stay in touch and send out links to the pictures, but realised that a blog would be a much better place to do that. I think this is why this has never felt like an ‘academic’ blog. I mean, there have been times when I’ve commented on a current issue or talked a bit more in depth about my work, but essentially this is just me rambling at the universe, with mostly my Mum listening.

I think my tweets (especially when on fieldwork) and my flickr page are a bit more archaeology focused than the blog.

Why are you still blogging?

Looking back in the archives (eyes right people), I’ve been doing this since about this time in 2006. Ironically, I’d just arrived back from almost 2 months in Italy then too! I think my reasons remain the same: to have a place to dump my thoughts, to share what I am up to with friends and family, to reach out and talk to people I studied with or was taught by. When I started I was about to spend 3 years doing a PhD in a different city, living away during the week. Almost 3 years ago I moved to the Netherlands for a post doc, for at least 3 years, and the blog became even more important. I go through phases of writing almost compulsively, and phases where I don’t feel like I have anything much to stay, but I think one way or another the blog is going to keep going. I’m hoping that taking part in the carnival will give me some topics to focus in on, and to be more confident about writing about archaeology, especially when it comes to explaining my own ideas.

A little bit late, but only for the best reasons

This is last weeks’ #project52 post… It didn’t happen over the weekend because I was too busy doing the things that feature in it 🙂

 

My wonderful friend Sarah came to visit…

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we had a bit of an adventure getting to the cafe at the Noordermarkt for the traditional apple pie pilgrimage… but the pie was worth it

 

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…then we went on an even bigger mission to get kibbeling at Nieuwe Sloten, but it was well worth it

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Then she surprised me with this AWESOME scarf, that she crocheted just for me….

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… I have named him Benedict. Isn’t he magnificent?

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She also brought me a very cool Totoro t-shirt…..

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… and a care package with tea, chocolate and jammie dodgers!

… much tea was consumed, we laughed a lot and I get the feeling I am going to spend all week recovering from the lack of sleep. But she can come back next weekend and every weekend if she likes. She’s like a big sister, partner in crime and best friend bundled into a wise, caring bundle of energy, curiosity and wicked humor. My PhD wouldn’t have happened without her help, she’s been there for me through some weird times. I’ve had the honour of being her friend for more than 15 years now, and she’s exactly who I want to be when I grow up…. (and she’ll want to strangle me for getting all sentimental). Love you woman!

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!

Snapshots

I owe you all at least three weeks of  #project52 pictures, and at some point a longer blog about fieldwork and life in general but it has been a really busy few weeks! So, without further ado, here is week 16:

 

#project52 week 16 Birthday Cake!

#project52 week 16 Birthday Cake!

I was home for 4 days before I went away to Italy again (this time with Matt, for my birthday) – I think I wrote the last blog just before I headed to Black and Bloom in Groningen to pick up the awesome cakes they made me to take to work. We have a tradition where you bring in cake for everyone on your birthday, but I was away for my actual birthday…. and besides, who really needs an excuse to eat brownies?!

Week 17 was spent in Italy with Matt. It was the first time he has ever been, and we had a wonderful time. At some point he’s going to put up the pictures he took, and I’ll post some here, or link to them, but he’s not had time to sort them out yet (over 9GB of images!!). I hardly took any; it was nice to be in Italy not working for a change, and I was too busy taking things in properly to be snapping all the time. I did get a few though, so my week 17 picture is of M at Herculaneum, which was amazing.

#project52 week17 Herculaneum

#project52 week17 Herculaneum

 

Week 18 contained many things. Again, I was only home for a few days before zipping off again, this time to the Uk for a wedding. It was also Queen’s day / the inauguration of the new Dutch King, and so I went for a wander in the heaving city centre with Olivia. Everything was either orange, or red, white and blue (or sometimes all 4). We went to a roof terrace overlooking the main square for cakes, and even the cakes had little orange crowns:

#project52 week 18 The last queen's day!

#project52 week 18 The last queen’s day!

I’ve been so busy for so long it has left me a bit run down, and earlier in the week, a bit blue. But today Inger (my friend and landlady), Steven and their wonderful daughter Oda arrived. How can anyone be sad with these three around?

#project52 week 19 Flying baby!

#project52 week 19 Flying baby!

So I’m off to cook us all a tasty (I hope) curry, and hopefully things will quieten down a bit and I can post more regularly. I don’t go away again until the 27th now, when I head to Vienna for ISAP….