Tag Archives: Blogging

Rescue

The photographs included here are from a small prehistoric monument on the coast of Sligo. It is classed as a Cist – pronounced “kissed”. This is generally a stone line box in the ground whose purpose seemed primarily for burial. This cist is something like 15cm wide and over 3m long so it stretches the theory. But then again Archaeology is well full of theories. Perhaps the body was hammered flat and posted in to the “grave”. Nevertheless it appears to be in possibly immanent danger of destruction and if that happens we will never know.
On a broad basis we see damage like this daily but primarily it is manmade – Bahn and Renfrews book on Archaeology in its theories, methods and practises (a very good book deserving of very good shelves) set aside a chapter on Archaeology and the Public. This chapter has a fair component of “stop breaking it and stop stealing it” type of thing. It puts the quote from Indiana Jones “It belongs in a museum” into the context of – only if we already know everything about it. Once the destruction has taken place the artefacts lose the majority of their point and after complete examination they boil down to (i) awesome or nice looking stuff, (ii) interesting and or informative stuff, (iii) shock and horror stuff and (iv) I don’t want to see it stuff.
Currently reading The Scientific Investigation of Copies, Fakes and Forgeries by Paul Craddock (along with How To Drive A Steam Locomotive by Brian Hollingsworth, but that’s another story). Wonderful book by a curator from the British Museum. From the book on fakes and forgeries – it would be far easier and cheaper to have artefacts made than running the risk of buying them at full price in the market – and there are a lot out there. I remember another book by Judith Miller on the antique trade (she of Millers Antiques Handbook and Price Guide fame) where she stated that more 18th century oak furniture left England each year than was ever made in the 18th century.
Rambling, back to disappearing monuments. I sometimes get the feeling that I need to qualify quickly and find my lost city before they are all gone – joking, somewhat. The monument in question is easier to look at fully because people are not involved – it is the environment – specifically the sea. Last year I took a photograph as it appeared close to the edge of the sea. This year after the storms I checked and it is still there though the sea stripped the land away no more then 20 feet up the coast from it. It needs a rescue so I will pass on the information. A Rescue is a dig that will remove the monument in a dig before the sea does – rescuing what is most important – knowledge of what happened in the past.

Cist in early 2013

Cist in early 2013


Cist early 2014

Cist early 2014

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Just a quick comment on photos in a blog

Firstly I know that this post would be more popular if it had pictures in it. I post using my own photographs because it’s easier to use them and put them into a post as they are usually a direct feature. There may be better (ego prevents me from stating that of course there are better) pictures to put across a message available but I have no right to them. As bloggers we have all come across a picture that has grabbed us in a way we would like to express here but I am something of a black and white person in certain respects. Things get a wee bit grey on occasion and one such was where I say two photographs in a 1940 copy of a National Geographic magazine. They are of the Venus and Winged Victory being manhandled into underground storage in case the German army made it as far as shelling Paris (the April issue of that year). Finding them chimed so well with me looking forward to the upcoming film Monument Men so I decided to contact National Geographic and ask if it was ok to post them here – with proper credit of course. The reply to me was quick and to the point. $200 for each picture. So it’s going to be homegrown, ok, but in context photographs on an ongoing basis here. If you do come across an April 1940 copy of National Geographic it is worth a look though.

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Memory in print

Memory or the lack of it gives us the requirement for books. I have what might be called a relatively poor memory. When it comes to reading fiction books it really gives me value for money. I have a feeling for the tone of a book – I can almost always feel what a book is like by looking at the spine, without remembering any of its particulars. A handy combination and a good reason for keeping books (on timberbookshelves). I need a specific filing/sorting system when it comes to factual books. No good having an idea that the book I am looking at might help me with a question on travel, geography, history, archaeology, astronomy, cooking, carpentry, etc. This would leave me with the situation of needing to read the book again to find out if I need to, well…….read the book to help me with my question. Does that make sense to you? So I am partway towards sorting this out. Not a huge issue till there are deadlines for completed work, but now that I have deadlines and a mounting compilation of books on various helpful core and periphery subjects. Pretty soon I will need something more comprehensive. Anyone have a Dewey Decimal System cabinet I could use? I do love using them and no offence to OCLC but computerised referencing is just not the same.

Should have mentioned it sooner so I might have got one for Christmas.

It occurs to me that given my prize memory I should read back over my old posts to see how I am doing. Does anyone else do that? Or perhaps even read over their posts before publishing? As I have seen elsewhere, spellcheck is my worst enema.

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Looking for light in darkness, but couldn’t find the darkness

My wife and I went out to Streedagh to see if we could watch or even catch a glimpse of the predicted Aurora Borealis. It is an ephemeral vision at this low latitude, but if there is a chance who would miss it? We missed it. We went out to Streedagh because it is a north facing beach which would give a clear view if indeed it showed up. There was a light mist but the moon was making a good show through and the hope was it would clear over the sea. It didn’t and the moonlight hitting the low (very thin – we could spot stars) cloud basically set up a light screen.

So far a blog about what hasn’t happened. Onwards.

The beach was being pounded by surf – clear in the moonlight. Further along the strand the mist coming off the surf seemed to dissolve the vista beautifully. The camera could not get enough light to capture the beauty of the scene, but as our eyes adjusted everything was crystal clear. The camera couldn’t capture a shot, but I could see our shadows. Amazing. So we went for a moonlit walk on the beach. Wonderful. The thing is, the human eye takes a while to adjust fully to the darkness, so nothing looked familiar when we were walking back (the car was parked behind the dunes). Found it eventually.

Now the best bit for a random reader passing through – this was a beach where a Spaniard was washed up. From the Armada. Three ships actually beached there, but he wrote letters to his brother at a later point and these were kept safe and translated. I do like to work a book or reading bit in. Its potentially the script for a slew of movies – war, capture, escape, slavery, women chasing him, defending castles, pirates, chases and so on. He was amazingly lucky, a liar, or a bit of both – you decide. His translations can be read here – http://www.ucc.ie/celt/published/T108200/index.html . Its an amazing site with a vast number of ancient manuscripts translated. If you do read Captain Cuellar’s translations – no pressure, please let me know what you think of them.

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Buying petrol without having cars

I looked about on the net recently.

There seems a distinct disconnect between selling books and selling bookshelves. We have book supermarkets, bookshops and online traders. The online traders seem to have the closest relationship and have sections to sell shelves, yet there is seems quite poor uptake – ebay had no bids on any of their shelves listings that I looked at.

People do seem to get as far as books and leave it at that. I find it amazing. Why not pile the shopping in one corner and clothes in another?

It occurs to me that a closer link, done correctly might work, but the sellers and others may have to help people to see that books are more like food than shoes.

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Its been nearly a year.

image 168 image 163 image 141 Photo0350 Photo0376 Photo0612 image 88 image 116I have spent it well but have not blogged in all that time.

Books still play a large part in my life, and still need shelves, bless them. Archaeology is amazing too. The course I am on is a real eye opener. So books on archaeology do move more to the front. The course is with a good and well run institution, but they have a media officer and insist on vetting any material made public using their name. I am in no position to disagree with their request so choose to avoid the issue altogether as I dislike censorship (specially when it comes to my opinions). Aside from the course (wonderful, truly) I have visited and become interested in Archaeology in general. Have I bought a hat and a whip? I did hear jokes last year on hat wearing class and advanced swinging over pits…. but no, no Indiana Jones stuff. The real stuff is better in the long run.

In my own personal readings I have become amazed with the amount of opinions and the number of people who seem to make a living from developing popular/saleable ideas. I like the idea that it is a science and thus should be based on evidence. It should include all evidence on any subject broached and not just the convenient stuff that fits the theory. The grey area is something of a lack of standards in work. There is little regulation or supervision. Its up to people to do their best and then tough it out with their findings against any who for whatever reason, disagree with them.

Grouching over. So what is it all worth. Quoting the late Mike Aston, from the program Time Team, “people like to find things”. It can’t be helped or avoided, nor should it. It is the easier of two halves of Archaeology. Figuring out what happened in the past through tests and analyses (and then bashing theories together) is quite a bit more difficult sometimes. Take the Staffordshire Hoard, figuratively speaking. Its a mass of beautifully made golden, jewel encrusted sword hilts, pommels, armour cheek pieces, etc., recently found in, well, Staffordshire in 2009. A large sum was paid by Museums, and now people want to look at all of it. It has in part been bee put on display. when I say part, it covers more than one museum at a time, given all of the contents. That’s not the good bit though. Imagine being part of a group of people who get to change/correct/enhance history by finding out its story. Jones isn’t Jones as a likeable character because he steals cool stuff, its because he knows about it. The soil the hoard was in will be examined. The hoard will be dated. The area will be looked at to see what the landscape was like at that time and after (after because the hoard may have been in use for some time before it was disposed of) . The items will be examined to see if it all came from the same place and time. Makers or owner marks will be looked for. Bright people will be gathered to make their own cluedo board with scraps of evidence to piece together. Scientists, anthropologists and archaeologists (archaeology is still mainly taught as an Art) will be gathered to think of new ways of wrestling some more clues from the finds. Some of this has already been done.

Being part of a group of people who can add to history and say something like –

“Its part of the legendary King Johns crown jewels”, or “Its a hoard of Viking plunder from as far as Samarkand and Kiev”, or “Robin Hood really did exist but he kept some for himself”, or ……… Imagine getting paid every day to do that.

What have I found? Part of a hengiform post and ditch structure in a high status trivalate circular enclosure. A chance to dig this week on a possible Neolithic house (approx. 4000 BC to 2600 BC). Shiny stuff is ok, but being part of figuring out the past (and getting paid for it) is great.

I will be looking more at books and their home again in the near future.

 

Thank you for reading.

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Back

Just a quick line or two.

Shelves to build – looks like Walnut, Beech and Oak will figure in them. Looking forward to that as both my sons will be involved.

Archaeology if working out very well – 1/4 way through the year now with some exams done. First trip today – Couple of megalithic burial sites (one urban, believe it or not) from the Neolithic and an abbey. The class I joined are a decent bunch which is always a wonderful bonus. Have to pack, and not sure what to bring – its my first trip!

Glad to be back.

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