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But kudos repealed to Discovery for the choice of sponsor for the programme.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.
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.
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.
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.