Thursday, 24 October 2013

International Archaeology Day 2013

October 19th was International Archaeology Day, not to be confused with Day of Archaeology which I have participated in in the past (2012 and 2013). Whereas Day of Archaeology is a blog based event, where people blog about their day as an archaeologist, International Archaeology Day is more a series of events organised by different groups and institutions. I was a bit late finding out about it so didn't have time to organise any events, but by browsing some of the online activities I discovered Wikipedia edit-a-thons. Specifically I came across Ada Lovelace and Trowelblazers edit-a-thons, which aim to celebrate women in archaeology, palaeontology and geology, by creating and improving Wikipedia articles. What a great idea! Wikipedia often gets bashed for being a poor source of information for academic work, but as a first stopping point to get your head around a subject it's really not that bad. As with any source, the ability to judge the quality of the information on there is essential, and of course it should not be a substitute for more in depth reading. But that's where the bibliographies and referencing comes in.

I've never done much with Wikipedia before, but I decided to sign up and give it a go in the spirit of International Archaeology Day. My first contribution has been quite humble - going through the list of renowned archaeologists and making sure all the women are classified under women archaeologists - but it's a start. The start of a terrible addiction I fear. There are many great articles on Wikipedia but a lot of it is not well referenced or organised systematically. These happen to be two areas which I am slightly obsessive about (as anyone who has asked me to review or mark work will know...), and I have now become addicted to improving Wikipedia archaeology articles! I'll post every so often with a summary of what I've been working on for anyone who is interested and/or would like to join me in my mission!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Catalhoyuk monographs

Just a quick update, it looks like the new Catalhoyuk monographs will be out in the next month! This set of volumes describes work at the site from 2000-2008 and includes a huge amount of new and exciting data. I have two chapters in Volume 8 summarising my PhD research on midden formation processes and our pilot study on coprolite and burial residues. These chapters include extra data, images and samples that were not included in the journal articles from 2011 that were published on these studies. 

Volume 8 details here.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Ness in Progress

Micromorphology block being impregnated with resin. Photo by Earthslides.
Not too much to report on my own activities this week, apart from the neverending email stream that has to be tackled on a daily basis. Sometimes I think it would be nice to declare an email bankruptancy and just delete them all and start anew. More exciting than the contents of my inbox however, are the updates from Earthslides on the progress of my micromorphology samples from the Ness of Brodgar. Julie Boreham from Earthslides runs a page called Hidden Worlds, Off the Bench, where she posts updates of her daily goings on in the lab. This week she has been working on the Ness samples, which are currently being impregnanted in resin, the first step in the process of turning them into slides. Check out her page here for more details!


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Micrograph of the Month: Fabulous Fired Clay

Here is a nice series of micrographs from a little experiment I did many years ago, back when I was a research assistant at the University of Reading, shortly after finishing my PhD. Professor John Allen had collected a clay sample associated with the Roman town of Silchester, and conducted a series of firing sessions in a kiln, each in increments of 100°C, to provide a collection of reference slides for fired clays in thin section. As I had been working on infra red spectroscopy at the time, I used the same fired samples to produce a series of reference FT-IR spectra to compare with the micrographs. We presented this as a poster at the 5th Experimental Archaeology conference in Reading 2011, though I never really took the work further, as I became more interested in developing the use of organic geochemical techniques rather than inorganic. FT-IR is a great technique for certain materials, but archaeological samples tend to be so mixed and hetergeneous it can be hard to get definitive data with FT-IR. The raw clay was heated from 100 to 1200°C. Distinct colour changes and alterations in the fine fabric can be seen in thin section around 300°C, 500°C, 900°C and 1100°C, coresponding with structural changes in the clay as it becomes more crystalline.