Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Culloden- what a find

June 16, 2008

Last week I traveled to the Culloden interpretation center (Battle of Culloden) with my relatives. It was well done and a fantastic use of technology to aid in the understanding of archaeological results specifically battlefields in this case. Walking near checkpoints would trigger hand-held GPS units and additional information could be accessed after the narration, which combined facts with personal accounts, was completed. My personal favorite part of the center was the computer animated “aerial view” of the battle that was tasteful, educational and very easily to understand. The panoramic re-enactment of the battle was also quite good, however, sometimes I found myself disoriented. My boss was given an honorary place in the film for undertaking the archaeology and he plays the role of “scared jacobite”. The film certainly removed any romantic notions about war and battle and left only the realization that war is indeed a sickness not a game.

When I was discussing my opinion of the center with an archaeologist who was present at the original excavations at Culloden (as supposed to the later excavations to “clear” a space of the new center) she mentioned that she could personally identify many of the objects on display. The more I thought about what she said the more I realized that this connection between an archaeologist and an artefact/find is part of the reason why I became an archaeologist.

The connection between artefact and archaeologist can be felt at different stages. First, you feel humbled and goose bumpy realizing that you are likely the first human hands to touch this object for a long time (clearly depending on the artefact). Second, if you are included in the post excavation process (such as cleaning, analysis and report writing) you become further connected to the object by realizing its unique features. As you play nurse and bestow some tender loving cleaning, the archaeology version of TLC, you become a witness to the interactions between the last owner/s and the object. This interaction could be pocket-polish (arrowheads and other objects can become brightly polished by rolling around a pocket or material lined container) on a beautiful Snyder point. On the other hand, the interaction between humans and an object could manifest themselves on a musket ball as powder burns, which speak of the start of a journey, and impact marks that could speak of the end of a life.

The third stage of connection that an archaeologist can feel for an artefact is recognition. My friend and co-worker felt it at the interpretation center. With the right eyes and the right amount of personal effort invested, you see artefacts like old friends who do not feel the need to swap small talk. This relationship and respect for the object, and there for the people linked with this object, is another aspect that separates archaeologists from looters.

As of yet we cannot go back in time to re-experience history and perhaps that’s for the best. To find yourself interacting with objects from the past, on a deeply personal level, is about as close as you can get. Sure, we can never have the same kind of relationship with an artefact as its original owner/s, but, given the amount of fired musket balls, grape shot and other tools of death and destruction present at the Culloden interpretation center, perhaps it’s for the best.


Family and food!

June 9, 2008

Last weekend I went all over with some family who come down for a visit. I got to play tourist in Glasgow and ate like a king. Last Saturday we rented a car and went up to Fort William traveling through some amazing scenery. We went by Loch Lomond back through Glen Coe, which remains one of my favorite places, and eventually to our final destination. Sunday we went beside Loch Ness up to Inverness and I took a train back to Glasgow. Sadly as I had to work on Monday, I missed out on seeing the ancestral home but hopefully I can see it later. I was very productive last week and as of today I have cleaned the scanned field drawings with Adobe Photoshop. Tomorrow I will begin cataloguing, and creating a database for, the artifacts found during the first season of the TV show.

I spent last week editing my photos and the later part of the week was dedicated to stretching out the stiffness in my muscles from Parkour. I realized in that week that my photography skill is improving dramatically and that I could hurt in places I didn’t think possible, its ok it is a good hurt and I am in the best shape of my life.

I was rushing to edit the photos as my relatives left today and I spent the weekend with them in Edinburgh. Clearly, I wanted to give them the photos before they left. When I meet back up with the family in Edinburgh I continued to eat as if I was a professional glutton.  We had a lot of modern Scottish cuisine that took the traditional dishes to the next level and many had exotic twits towards the end of the trip. In Glasgow we/I had haggis fritters, venison sausages, ham with a creamy/buttery sauce and mashed potatoes with pineapple and seaweed crème brule. Elsewhere we had Ostrich topped with haggis and asparagus, Wild Boar burger with amazing chips/fries, Banoffee pie (bananas and toffee), and a baked chocolate fondant that can only be described as orgasmic.

Well now that I have justified my absence, I will try to be more regular with the posts. Oh and if anyone is coming to Scotland just give me a shout and I will be more that willing to talk about Scottish food and restaurants for all types of budgets,

York and back again

February 8, 2008

My trip to York was interesting to say the least. To start it off my wallet was nicked on the train and I had only a reservation at a hostel, which I had not yet paid for, and the number of a friends’ friend. I called this new friend and the connection cut out. I near smashed the phone right there and then however, my new friend called from another phone and stated his battery had died.

Cutting to the present I had just taken last collection of the items I need to get through the remainder of the year. Lost to the sands of time are my driving license, my emergency credit card and a black leather wallet. Rounding up and collecting these items has been my mission for the past week.

Back to York my new friend was a extremely helpful and friendly guide. The guy even set me up with a bunk, food, and lent me 50 quid. I am so thankful for his help and I hope I will have a chance to repay my new friend and show him an equally fun time when he comes to Glasgow.

The conference itself was such a mixed bag. Many of the items discussed were fascinating however like most conferences much depended on the quality of the speaker. I don’t want to speak of some of the ideas due to possible copyright infringements but here are some interesting new finds.

Augmented reality- a type of virtual reality; it shows 3D replicas of objects and buildings. Imagine seeing a 3D model of a castle etc using your cell phone camera.

The “Dig!” – museum in York imagine watching adult archaeologists becoming children again and digging in a neo-sandbox peppered with artifacts. The only difference between children and adults was the glasses of wine in many hands. a fantastic site for interesting ways in which we humans display the world around us. Don’t attempt this site with dial up.

York- an amazing city in general. I sadly did not bring my camera; apart from being windy as hell, it was picture perfect environment with visibly inspiring heritage and great beers.

It has been awhile

December 20, 2007

I have been AWOL from the blog, so here is what I have been up to. On Monday, I handed the report that has been owning (or pwning, if you are a gamer) my soul. That monster was 14 chapters, 32 pages (single spaced), 17 tables and 5 figures. I feel I confident about it as I put in a lot of thought and effort into it. One important lesson I have learned is that a budget of £100,000 does give you that much time in the field.

Two days ago, I traveled downtown, on my trusty two-wheeled chariot, to see Glasgow’s Cathedral, St Mungo’s museum of religion and the Necropolis. I took some awesome pictures as the sun was setting and just as the sun set and Glasgow’s lights illuminated the sky, my battery died. I think the Necropolis is truly amazing as it is both one of the most beautiful places in Glasgow (especially at night, much to my chagrin) also one of the most beautiful view points of Glasgow. The Necropolis itself is a huge hill, dominated by a statute of John Knox, with winding paths creeping up to the plateau. There were two obstacles to my picture taking. First, the Cathedral is being restored so scaffolding dominates parts of my shots. Second, some of the paths were blocked off as they were being repaved. However, I locked and hid my bike and snuck down from a upper level to snap some shots. It seems that photography favors the bold.

For all you contact wearers do not attempt to pamper your eyes. I needed to buy new contact solution and beside my regular solution I spotted the ‘for sensitive eyes’ equivalent. “Well, I am a pretty sensitive guy”, I thought to myself, “maybe my eyes are too”. When I got home, I found that the contact holder was completely different and so I read the directions concerning the case and then I stopped reading. Big mistake that. I missed the part, in bold, about the active ingredient being hydrogen peroxide and not applying it directly into my eye. The next day I followed my daily routine and per usual I applied a few drops of the solution to the contact before placing it into my eye. What followed was a type of pain I have come to equate to being tazered…in the eye. After I forcefully removed the contact from my bloodshot eye, and repressed the urge to put my fist through the mirror, it dawned on me that directions are there for a reason. The moral of the story is my eyes are indeed sensitive; they are sensitive to the thought of change.

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.