Hello everyone! It’s A Place Odyssey‘s turn to host the biweekly blog carnival Four Stone Hearth! I’m very excited and have rumaged up a couple of new blogs from friends I’ve met as a site assistant (digger) round Britain, I hope you find them interesting.
Let’s kick off then…
Since A Place Odyssey is primarily about landscape archaeology I thought I’d start off with a post reflecting this. A friend of mine who works for English Heritage is intersted in the Liverpool’s past. Martin talks about exclusivity of place and uses example from his own history of Liverpool and the different areas he knows and likes. I quite agree with him, not about Liverpool – only been there once, but places are imbued with distinct characters derived from many avenues. Maybe next Martin you could see if this is reflected in the archaeological or if the town planning of Liverpool reflects any specific examples of exclusivity?
Hmm, my mate Joe at Oxford Archaeology is researching how to incorporate digital recording techniques to field archaeology, there’s always a trial round the corner! This sort of thing causes quite a debate between site assistants in Britain, one that won’t be resolved until more of us have had some experience using this sort of technology. Here Joe discusses the new and improved EGNOS GPS coverage across Europe. Joe once undertook an experiment mapping peoples walk across a city with GPS, then asking questions about what landmarks they noticed in particular. It was quite interesting, I wonder if a certain Prof. Tilley ever got to hear about it? Maybe Joe could do another similar thing with EGNOS system and put the results up.
Cloe’s studying for a PhD whilst working at GGAT in Wales, she must be a busy lass, but find time to knock some interesting insights into how our past is used by modern communities and the ethical dilemmas around them. In this example she’s considering the World Heritage status of Blaenavon, south Wales. I went to Blaenavon on a field trip as an undergraduate a few years ago, it’s quite a well preserved industrial site, made infinitely more interesting by the Time Team sign thats ben stuck up next to the tiny teashop. Personally I think it’s odd, this is one of the oldest iron smelting works in the world and demonstrates the way this area was key to the industrial revolution that changed the world, and it’s got a tiny teashop and a Time Team sign, great. Stonehenge on the other hand, hugh carpark, visitor centre even it’s own tunnel, and they might (one day) move a road so it looks nicer in the landscape. And we don’t even know what Stonehenge is/was, odd. Anyway, go and see what Cloe has to say…
Greg at Neuroanthropology is attempting to understand the encultured brain and body in regard to people’s perceptions of creationism, which he equates with the lack of understanding of Star Trek. If he’s talking TNG, DS9 and Enterprise, I’m in, otherwise, oh could have an argument on our hands here! Greg admits he is stirring the pot when arguing that evolutionists have similar tendancies to faith and closemindedness as their more biblically inspired counterparts. I like the approach, at least if you say something slightly outlandish it’ll get people talking, so go and have a gander.
Ciaran at Ad Hominin is discussing the pelvis of Ardipithecus ramidus a 4.4 million year old hominin. I hope that is the correct terminology for these early people, I must admit this sort of thing is not my speciality. However it’s interesting stuff, the change in pelvis, argues Ciaran, denotes a move from the tree dwellers found in our long history to going for more of a stroll on the ground. I wonder how this would have affected the ways in which people interacted and their relationship with the environment?
Anne at The Spittoon is discussing the evidence that later prehistoric movements of people into the British Isles is shadowed by the movement of shrews and voles! It doesn’t mention whether they were being kept as pets, I can imagine some Bronze Age chief developing iron as it would make a better collar for his favourite rodent! Hmm, anyway, yeah it’s interesting stuff, I don’t think it’s the end of the story though. Who were the Celts anyway? I think using such loaded terms might be slightly confusing these days with talk of transitions, migrations and/or enculturation but maybe I’m just being argumentative like Greg!
Martin the sceptic, Swedish archaeologist and creator of Four Stone Hearth has been inspired by the goings on at Staffordshire. Both myself and Joe at Digital Finds have mentioned the gold hoard found in the Midlands of the UK, whilst Aardvarchaeology I think must have been feeling a bit peckish. Here Martin has a couple of photos of a gold hoard made from marzipan. I haven’t had marzipan since I was a child but remember not liking it too much, however if it looked this good I might give it a bit of a taste!
Over at the Primate Diaries Eric is considering the anthropological attitude to capitalism, the free market and whether there is a total, timeless social economic system that is right. I think we would all agree that these things are culturally determined, but judging which are better or worse moves us towards an absolutionist position which maybe hard to justify. Go and have a look, there’s already a rather impassioned comment to get things started!
And so we turn to my own blog. I just handed in my MA dissertation yesterday and so was a litle worse for wear today. I was looking into how late medieval people picked certain localities for the placings of their upland, possibly seasonal, dwellings in North Wales. It’s quite interesting and I’ll put something up soon but wanted to use this opportunity to give some time to Archaeologists for Global Justice.
Archaeologists for Global Justice arose as a response to the widespread and ever increasing injustice affecting our world. It was conceived and put into motion by archaeologists at the University of Sheffield (UK), and inspired by the actions of Archaeologists Against the War in opposing British involvement in the Iraq conflict. The idea of forming AGJ was initially voiced to a wider audience during a session entitled `An eternal conflict? Archaeology and social responsibility in the post-Iraq world´, convened at the conference of the Theoretical Archaeological Group (TAG), held in Sheffield in December 2005. The group is a culmination of numerous discussions and interactions, and represents a desire to give voice to our opposition to injustice.
There is a Facebook group and a mailing list hosted by The Unversity of Sheffield, but available for anyone to sign up to. Both of these sites have more information, principles and a manifesto, go and have a look, better still sign up. It would be especially good if more people involved in commercial archaeology got involved to discuss certain issues. One that I think of immediately is that we ‘will not collaborate with development plans which are not based upon principles of sustainability’. A tricky point for diggers working on a Barrett’s housing development indeed. There are pehaps no clear answers but AGJ is good place to start.
So there we are, quite a crop of good stuff. I’m sure some will be more interesting to more or less people. I’m opening up contributor positions to A Place Odyssey to the latest students on the Landscape Archaeology MA at Sheffield University tomorrow, we’ll see if they bring any exciting things here. I’d like to thank Martin Rundkvist for letting me host this fortnight’s Four Stone Hearth and hope you have seen something you like. The next Four Stone Hearth host blog is vacant at the moment so why not email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a go yourselves. Thanks, Pete
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