Like Lazarus? Big changes and a potential resurrection for the blog..

Just when I was thinking I had probably said goodbye to the blog, life changed in a good way.

I’ve just accepted a two-year Post Doctoral Research post.

At Durham.

This obviously means some big changes. Not least of which will be me moving long distance, again. For the start of November. But this time, M might come with me (but not to start off with). So we might totally decamp from Southampton, where we have lived since 1999. It’s odd, in all my recent wanderings I have somehow felt safer because there was always that home to come back to. So though this time I won’t be changing countries, it feels just as scary as moving abroad.

But also not: I was born in Middlesbrough and lived there ’till I was 8, so in some ways I will be going home. I am so excited about being able to share that landscape with M: he’s only visited twice before when we have gone up to see family there. He doesn’t know the Dales, or the Moors… but he soon will.

The project is really exciting, it’s a Leverhulme funded investigation of the landscape archaeology of the Great Depression in North East England. It has everything I love: innovative use of GIS, social archaeology and landscapes, politics and identity. I really feel like it is a return to my roots, to the work I was so proud of doing at Greenham and a chance to really find my voice again. The PI is an academic that blogs, Dr David Petts. He also tweets, and there is going to be a ‘public’ side to the project, though the exact shape of things is yet to be determined.

So unlike Crete and my more recent commercial activities, I will be doing things I can and probably should talk about here! I am so excited, and I already have a reading list a mile long, especially for the public archaeology side of things as that’s an area I know I need to catch up on in terms of recent thinking and practice.

So more soon, in my now long established blend of personal, geekery and academic(ish) ramblings…  In the meantime expect a lot of #packingdread type tweets… and lots of househunting and moving information requests…

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.

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!)

Soul Food

Late again, but again for good reasons. Got loads done at work last week and feel good that I am on top of things before going away tomorrow with the Minor Centers project. We’re off to Lazio to look for evidence about smaller Roman settlements and way-stations along the via Appia. It’s going to be hot and sticky- when we were there this time last year it regularly topped 40 degrees when we were in the field. But it’s also going to be good fun. We have a great team and we’re being hosted by a local community we have lots of ties to, so I am looking forward to loads of jokes, good food and team work.

I didn’t post over the weekend because my friend Jess was visiting. She sings in a band, The Undercover Hippy, who were playing a small festival in the north of the province. Jess came over early and we had a great couple of days together before heading to the festival for the day on Saturday. The band were great: if you get a chance to see them I’d definitely recommend going! I’ve known Jess since we were about 11: we grew up in houses two doors apart and she is so important in my life, and in who I am today. We don’t see each other nearly often enough, but when we do it’s like little bits of my soul that stay quietly hibernating are brought into the light and nourished. I realise things: that I am someone who loves sitting in a field drinking mead in the sunshine, putting the world to rights and listening to good music. That there is just a little bit of a fluffy hippy lurking inside all of the science.

Love #project52 Week 29

Love #project52 Week 29

For the rest of this week and next I am away, so here is this week’s post as well…

Gone Digging #Project52 Week 30

Gone Digging #Project52 Week 30

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!