Archive for November 2007

Tripping around the Misty Island and the Highlands

November 27, 2007

This weekend I traveled to the Ile of Skye and up into the Scottish Highlands. I went with Glasgow’s international society, who booked through Haggis tours, however I could not cash in my winning ticket as the travel company said it was not transferable (even though it was the same value and same trip apart from the departure city).
Apart from some awful weather the trip was a blast. I deeply in love with the Highlands, especially Glencoe, plans are already being made to go back and hike Glencoe when it is a little warmer. We went to Eilean Donan Castle (the most photographed castle in Scotland), Kilt Rock, An Calic (which was an ruined area which used to produce dynamite, yes industrial archaeology is in fact a blast) and the largest settlements of Portree, and Fort William. We also hit up numerous photo spots including two waterfalls, one on the coast and one inland, a geological bench which was a great look out spot if you didn’t mind being blown about by the wind. All the major points had historical and local stories told by our male tour guide whose smooth Scottish accent had a few hearts fluttering.
I feel guilty, as I clearly did not get much work done this weekend however, it was my first trip this year so I have to cut myself some slack. I also might have caught a bug in my travels, perhaps that is punishment enough.
I have also decided to stay in Europe for my Christmas break. I will be spending Christmas itself in London with a friend of mine and I will be spending New Year’s in Paris with a few friends. Heck, saying I am going to London and Paris just sounds so much cooler than saying I am going home, however I will miss my family and my friends but really this is a once in a lifetime chance and I am sure they will all understand.

Busy busy!

November 15, 2007

The past few days have been a Mcflurry of activity!
Yesterday I caught the 3rd part of Ian Hodder’s lecture series. This lecture explained how the ‘thing theory’ related to Catalhoyuk. Hodder stated that there were ‘history houses’ in which way more people were buried in the floors (common practice) than could have directly lived there. He also mentioned, amongst other things, that houses were clustered around these types of house as if they sacred. I asked him a question, I wondered if he thought these houses would be the historic epicenter for ‘leading families’ and he said that it is one explanation and there is evidence to support my hypothesis. Now that received an ego stroke I feel ballsy enough to comment on his theory. I personally feel that his theory underplays the role of society, but apart from that detail, I agree with him and support his cause that aims to create a more integrated archaeological perspective.

I just returned for a field trip to from the Roman ‘milefort’ of Bar Hill/Iron age fort of Castle Hill and the 14th century Mugdock castle. As previously mentioned I have to create a research design for one of these two sites and I have to pick which one over the weekend. If nothing else arose from this trip I have officially touched the Antonine wall, hell I nearly tripped over it. Currently I am leaning towards Mugdock castle as I want to expand my horizons and tackle some standing building archaeology that rarely occurs in North America.

Tomorrow I am also going to hand it my class choices for the second semester. I have to take three and the first choices are Archaeological Project Management, GIS (Geographic Information System – a type of electronic mapping program) for Archaeological Project and Interpretation and Application of Geophysics Survey. The only course that may not be offered is GIS so my backup is CAD (Computer Aided Design- another type of electronic mapping program) for Archaeological Projects. I have also talked with Dr Tony Pollard and he has given me permission to sit in on the course ‘early modern battlefields’ however I will not receive academic credit for my attendance. Now thanks to the good Dr. Pollard I can make money with my computer skills AND follow my personal interests which may lead to a Ph D if I like it enough.

And now for a refreshing pint of beer!

Project design and Ian Hodder’s mind

November 13, 2007

Today my courses second module entitled “the practice of professional archaeology” started up. This portion of the course is based around completing a project design for two different sites. The first choice is the combination of Bar Hill and Castle Hill which are a roman site and a prehistoric, thought to be an Iron age fort, respectively. The second choice is Mugdock Castle which was constantly occupied from the 14th century onward.
I am to structure a dig to answer specific questions proposed by the ‘clients’ on a budget of 100,000 pounds, including publication and analysis. Apart from background research this project also requires the structuring of a “fieldwork programme design”, staffing and resourcing, post excavation costing and timescale and dissemination proposals. We have a field trip of Thursday to the two sites.

Today the Dalrymple lecture series commenced with the guest speaker being the second mostly popular archaeologists, first if you exclude Indy as he is just a handsome looter anyway. His lecture is entitled “thing theory: towards an integrated archaeological perspective” and it is spread over four nights. Today’s lecture was called “humans and things- developing some ideas and terms” and as he later told us it would be the bare bones today, background to the case study (Catalhoyuk in Turkey perhaps the worlds first ‘city’), a combination of the first two and lastly the origins of agriculture in the Middle East.

It was very interesting to see this new theory being discussed however as I do not wish to hurt his book sales nor do I have a clear enough picture of his theory to attempt to describe his theory, as I only have terms and some rough ideas, I will not discuss this theory in detail. It seems that he is gauging our reactions to this theory as he was taking notes on some questions which were posed during the Q and A portion of the lecture. What was also interesting was my fellow lecture attendees reactions to the fact that this theory is so new that it is not even published yet. During the question period there were some questions that sought to disagree with this theory. Although it was mostly one man whose question was garbled and it seems he may just have disagreed with an analogy Dr Hodder used which roughly stated that classical music would be out of place in the Paleocene. I guess when you are as well known for your theories as he is there are people trying to shoot you down everywhere you go.

Oh and Glasgow won the 2014 bid for the commonwealth games. I was at the gym when the announcement was made, most in attendance didn’t care.

Fawkes news

November 7, 2007

I also considered calling this post Gerry Fawkes day, but I didn’t want to compare a Canadian hero to a failed bomber. On Monday, there was a large fireworks display in the Glasgow Greens that was coupled with the Glasgow bid to host the upcoming Commonwealth games. My flat mates noted that there was no burning of effigies like in England; I chalked the difference to an on going sense of religious unrest that is visible whenever the Rangers and Celtics play (you do not want to be seen burning Catholics as the Celtics might get a bit angry). While talking to some classmates, who are Glasgow locals, they stated “In England they celebrate that he was caught and stopped while in Scotland we celebrate that he TRIED to blow them up”. That does explain the irony of celebrating a gunpowder plot with lots of explosions.
Just before the fireworks went off there were the standard lame radio competitions featuring a disc jockey with a face on them that explains why they are destined for the radio waves. This competition was to determine who had the best soccer ‘goal!’ cry. A twist of fate placed Celtic and Ranger fans, of the young child variety, next to each other and when the second child announced their loyalty, they were booed!  After the fireworks I retired to a pub with some friends and we noted that the fire brigade was very busy that night, to be expected I guess.

The List you want to follow

November 3, 2007

In Scotland there is a magazine called “The List” which covers all the best restaurants by genre. The List is half dedicated to Glasgow and half dedicated to Edinburgh. Last night I went out with my flat mates, one who happens to be Spanish, and some Spanish friends. We went to ‘TaPaell’Ya’, which is on the List’s ‘hitlist’, where we had an assortment of appetizers including the mighty tasty “croquettas” and some calamari rings amongst others. It was very interesting to hear about how the dishes are different from the true Spanish style and I clearly had to tuck away some of their cuisine info. You pretty much need to have appetizers as the paellas take about 45 minutes to make but they are well worth the wait. Oh and a great spin on the standard bread and butter was olive oil and balsamic vinegar which mixed nicely with the semi sweet bread which had nuts in it. That bread was a life safer as the Spanish tend to eat very later and following in their footsteps we did not sit down to eat until 8PM or 20:00, tack on the 45 minute wait for the paella and you get the idea.