Saturday, 11 January 2014

6th Experimental Archaeology UK conference volume now online

I'm happy to announce that the editorial and the majority of papers for the special issue of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences are now available online ahead of print publication later this year. This volume is the end result of the 6th Experimental Archaeology conference, co-organised by myself, Eva Fairnell and Helen Williams, at the University of York in 2012, and includes a great range of papers on all aspects of experimental archaeology, from scientific experiments, archaeological reconstructions, and more experiential approaches. The editorial is free to access here, but if anyone would like pdfs of any individual papers please get in touch. The 7th EAUK was in Cardiff 2013, and the 8th EAUK has just been held this week at the University of Oxford. Although I couldn't attend this year it has been great being able to follow the conference online via live Twittering (#EAUK2014), and there are a couple of papers and posters presented this year that build on the work published in AAAS.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Micrograph of the Month: Medieval floors

This is the second floor themed micrograph post, you can see examples of Neolithic floors in a post from last year here. You'll notice the same horizontal surface and distinct boundaries, and even a similar type of charred plant, ash and bone debris, however the construction of the floors themselves is quite different. Whereas the prehistoric floors are made from packed mud/earth, these Medieval floors from the town of Riga are made from a calcareous material with a very high quantity of sand grains. It looks very similar to a lime mortar, though I want to do a bit more work on it before saying that for definite.
Another difference here, whereas the Neolithic floors were showing signs of post-depositional processes in the form of gypsum crystals, the debris on this floor is remarkably well-preserved.
I have put together two photos here, the bottom image showing an earlier floor, overlain by mixed debris, containing tiny bone fragments, wood charcoal and ash. The upper photo shows the same debris layer and the second, later floor constructed on top. The floors themselves are about 45mm thick. The debris layer is very fine, only about 5 mm, yet can give us insights into the types of activities that were occurring here.This is part of the same set of samples I discussed in December, from a different part of the site.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Blogging Archaeology - the Best and the Worst

It's Blogging Archaeology round 3! The summary of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly has just been posted over on Doug's Archaeology . Lots of good responses, it's definitely worth a read to see some of the 'bad'. The positive aspects of blogging are obvious in some ways - spreading the word about your research, (theoretically) getting interaction with an interested audience. The negative side it seems can be quite serious. My own reponse to 'the bad' seems quite trivial compared to what some people had to say. One response that stood out for me was Pots and Places, Stones and Bones,
"the balance between self promotion and over exposure on social media (including blogging) really needs to be questioned" and the suggestion that blogging can come across as boasting. This is something I have thought about with my own blog. As it is a blog about my research, it is all a bit me me me, though I hope it doesn't come across as boastful. Maybe I should have a think about other types of content to include rather than just my own work!

Onwards to round 3:

What are your best (or if you want your worst) post(s) and why? Compare and contrast your different bests/worsts. 

Ok first off, worst is easy. I have a lot of little bitty posts back when I started the blog (hopefully not too many recently), which would be much better as Twitter posts. But I didn't have Twitter until recently (see shiny new Twitter feed to your right ---->). I have a couple of 'new publications out' posts which in hindsight (see above) are a bit crap. In future I will use publication posts to discuss the work in a bit more detail so it's more interesting.

Best is also easy. There is one post that stands out for me as 'best' for many reasons. It is the most viewed post of all time on my blog (c.300 unique views if I remember correctly - that's a lot for me!), probably because when I posted it the link was shared on a few facebook pages and other sites with a large audience. It is also my personal favourite. It is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, which started out as a humorous spoof (archaeologically themed spoof poetry is a hobby of mine), but ended up being quite poignant. I'd been working on it on and off for a while, a poem about Catalhoyuk based on Tennyson's The Lady of Shallot. I was inspired to finish it when I heard the news in 2012 that Shahina Farid had resigned as field director of the Catalhoyuk project. I started working at Catalhoyuk in 2004, and Shahina has always been an inspiration to me. She always found time to help me, a shy and terrified graduate student with no clue, my PhD literally could not have happened without her (even if she did give me the nick-name Deep Shit for working on coprolites from the Deep Sounding). For many of us, she'll always be the Lady of the Hoyuk...

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New year, new Science

Cover image expansionHappy new year from Castles and Coprolites! The first news item of 2014 is a write-up by Michael Balter about the latest research on Stonehenge, featuring snippets about my work on pottery residues as part of the Feeding Stonehenge project, as well as summaries of work by the faunal team and other specialists. There's also a brief mention of our unpublished pilot study on pottery residues at the Ness of Brodgar, which we carried out as a comparison whilst working on the Durrington Walls assemblage. If you'd like to read it and don't have access to Science online, drop me an email and I can send you a pdf.