Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Goodbye USA, for now!

Finally back in the UK after 6 weeks in the US as a WUN visiting fellow at UW and subsequently conference participant at the SAA 77th Annual Meeting in Memphis. Since my previous update, I gave another seminar as part of UW Anthropology FAALS, this time on my micromorphology work at Catalhoyuk. Rather than giving the same presentation I normally do, I decided to incorporate some of the very latest work I've been doing at the site, including the analysis I did at UW, and even a bit of theory. It was great to get lots of questions and positive responses, and the discussion gave me some useful ideas on how to integrate larger scale spatial analysis with micromorphology (the focus of which, in my research at least, has been temporal). I was sad to have to leave UW after only 1 month - I intially thought this would be plenty of time, but it went by so quickly. Hopefully I'll be able to go back when my lab work with Feeding Stonehenge has finished.

Before returning to the UK I spent my last few days in the US at the SAA conference. I usually say that I'm not one for shopping much, but that is actually untrue. The book sales at conferences are evil. I think I probably spent more than the conference registration fee on books, most of which I had to leave in the US to pick up at a later date, as I couldn't fit them in my luggage. In actual work related conference news, my presentation went well. I had a poster of pilot work for the Ecology of Crusading project in the Geoarchaeology Interest Group sponsored session. Very much a work in progress and initial thoughts, but it was useful to discuss some of the techniques and ideas with other geoarchaeologists. I even managed to attend other (non-geoarch) sessions this year, including one that started at 8 in the morning. There were some interesting papers on experimental archaeology which will make great case studies for the forthcoming special issue on Experimental Archaeology which I am co-editing with my colleagues from the 6th Experimental Archaeology conference, more details coming soon.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Museums and Measurements

All those good intentions to update my blog on a daily basis seem to have failed, though this is good in a way as it reflects how busy I have been. Since my last update I have had a behind the scenes tour of the Burke Museum (absolutely fantastic collections of art from the northwest coast, including bent boxes, incredible!), I've visited the labs in Oceanography (which by the way, has a rather fantastic coffee/lounge area, see below), and have given my first department seminar for Archaeology (which attracted a decent audience despite being a friday afternoon and having the word biomolecular in the title).

Lounge area, UW Oceanography

I've also made significant progress on a paper I'm co-authoring on 'jumping scales' at Çatalhöyük, which is exploring the link between the scale at which data is collected, and the scale at which interpretations are made. It turns out UW is a great place to be working on this, as the office I'm in has a huge geoarchaeology library with a whole section of books on scales of space and time. It's interesting to read all these ideas which seem to have been floating around for at least a decade, but have not really been taken on board in the discipline in general. Çatalhöyük is perhaps an ideal case study as it is a flagship for reflexive methodology. It is important to be reflexive, but this is not easy if you do not have a real understanding of the nature of the data. I think geoarchaeology has an important contribution to make here, to enable a better understanding of the nature of archaeological data. It can make the formation processes clearer, and thus narrow the different possible interpretations.