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I saw most of the Time Team epis­ode Celtic Spring just now. I’m a fan of Time Team. I know it’s fash­ion­able to knock it, but I think it does what it does really well. Celtic Spring is a good example because it was a site where a vari­ety of arte­facts had been taken from archae­olo­gical sites across Europe and rebur­ied within the past 20 years. They showed how they knew this using basic archae­ology and explained why.

There’s a scam on the increase of smug­gling or steal­ing arte­facts and rebury­ing them. You then excav­ate them and they have a new proven­ance which means they can be traded. You couldn’t sell Roman pot­tery found it Italy because export is illegal, but an identical pot found in Wales could be sold, even if it’s the only pot of its type found out­side of Italy. The sale of unproven­anced mater­ial is a major prob­lem and many auc­tion houses are happy to assist these sales so long as the seller doesn’t turn up in a stripy jumper and a bag marked ‘swag’. So kudos to Time Team for show­ing this and also to the Discovery Channel for show­ing the repeat.

But kudos repealed to Discovery for the choice of spon­sor for the pro­gramme. The show ended with uncoun­ted coins and a mass of other mater­ial, includ­ing a La Tene sword, rendered archae­olo­gic­ally worth­less by the fraud com­mit­ted. The aim was mak­ing easy cash from the sale of illi­cit antiquit­ies. And then came the sponsor’s clos­ing mes­sage.
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It’s not procastination — it’s research

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I’m giv­ing a paper at an English con­fer­ence on Monday. I’m not a stu­dent of English and I’ve no idea what they talk about so nat­ur­ally I’m pre­par­ing by read­ing around the the blogs I look at reg­u­larly. They’re in English and hyper­text (the sub­ject of my paper) so it’s research, not pro­cras­tin­a­tion. As well as Buridan’s Ass I’ve been brows­ing on notion of spe­cies at Evolving Thoughts. He makes an point which gets for­got­ten time and again when look­ing at ancient ‘sci­ence’, that it’s so easy to be ana­chron­istic. I put the scare quotes around sci­ence because even that notion is ana­chron­istic to an extent. Knowledge might be better.

Savage Minds, which I’ve been look­ing for an excuse to post a link to (bey­ond “Hey check out Savage Minds” which seems a bit shal­low) has a thought pro­vok­ing ques­tion. What are the most dan­ger­ous books of the 19th and 20th cen­tury?. It’s a response to an art­icle in a right-wing mag. Marx gets into the list twice. Kinsey, who sug­ges­ted sex may be a nor­mal activ­ity, is there. Even Keynes “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” gets in. Friedman, whose data guided the British eco­nomy into a slump in the 1980s doesn’t even get a mention.

It is a dif­fi­cult ques­tion.
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Not strictly relevant

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One reason for set­ting this site up was to cent­ral­ise com­ments I was mak­ing on other sites. Friends could then point out incon­sist­en­cies and point at me singing “You are an argu­ment­at­ive sod after all”. To which, of course, I vig­or­ously dis­agree. I’ve since not com­men­ted on any­thing. Prof Rubenstein’s thoughts on evol­u­tion almost stirred me, but he was receiv­ing (a richly deserved) col­lect­ive put down from a horde of people who thought it was bad bio­logy. I don’t think many have picked up on it being atro­cious his­tory too, so I’ll add some­thing on that later on in the week.

What’s roused me now me now is a post at Buridan’s Ass. Buridan’s noticed a Call for Papers. “Toilet Papers: The Gendered Construction of Public Toilets.” I sug­gest you read the whole thing because some of it is a little self-contradictory and it would be easy to acci­dent­ally quote out of con­text. I think the pas­sage that made me jump, because it’s out of char­ac­ter for Buridan is:

The lar­ger issue here, and the one that I find more inter­est­ing, is not the par­tic­u­lar rel­ev­ance of the social con­struc­tion of pub­lic toi­lets but the increas­ing trend in social sci­ence research that is so far removed from the press­ing con­cerns of mod­ern soci­ety that my mentor, Michael Lewis, calls it “the silly science.”

I am aware I’m spend­ing a sur­pris­ing amount of time in toi­lets at the moment and hope­fully it will stop but there are a few points I could put up for dis­cus­sion.
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Space Archaeology II

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The Archaeology of Mars

It looked for a while as though I may have had to pre­pare a present­a­tion at short notice for the Brown Bag series at Leicester. I get bored present­ing on my PhD, because so much of the basics need to be repeated again and again. For a 20 minute talk I can be cer­tain that 10 minutes will have to be old stuff. So inspired by Dr Space Junk’s web­log I threw together some slides on the Exploration of Mars. After read­ing her art­icle I’m pretty sure the field is sound, but I’m not so sure about my talk. It’s a pos­sible entry for CHAT* this year in the neo­co­lo­nial section.

There are two hooks in the talk.
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