Actually I draw on Ingold’s work quite heavily, and don’t want this to be a criticism of that in anyway. The title of this blog is based on a response myself and a friend and colleague reached towards the end of a long conference. Our complaint revolved around the male dominance in the work being cited. And at this conference Ingold could have won you key word bingo.
I mostly work in two fields which are generally considered to be male dominated; Digital Archaeology and Castle Studies. During a Castle thing I pointed out that all the current experts the group called on were male, and was told that that was the nature of the discipline. A rather wonderful thread on twitter points to this being incorrect. While Digital Archaeology I think has a bad recent history, at least CAA have taken a strong approach to combating this stereotype.
Recent work has suggested men tend to get cited a lot more. In fact not only do men tend to cite themselves more we also know that women in general tend to be cited less. We have seen they tend to dominate departmental seminar series, and then there is “manels”.
The current state of affairs
This has been a subject on the rise in recent months with various people asking if any journals have any guidelines that encourage a diverse bibliography. I also understand that presenting appropriately diverse reading lists has also been under discussion in the History department at York. But I’m not sure I have seen a formal way to move forward.
Changing our practise
I was recently asked to peer review a paper for the SPMA. While going through it I was surprised to note a couple of (female) authors I was expecting to feature were not present. It struck me that actually I had no idea how diverse the bibliography was as first names were shortened to initials. I realised my working practise had to change and spent a painstaking hour googleing citations trying to predict gender (though this methodology isn’t concrete a better working practise is discussed here), until I was satisfied that there were enough women featured within this list. I also pointed out in my comments that the papers I was expecting to see weren’t cited.
This might not change the world.
I know that me taking the extra time to explore this within a single paper context might not seem like it would change the world. However, we should be critically reflecting on who we are citing, and further who other people are citing as part of our review process. If the trends mentioned above continue in an academic world focused on h-index’s and Impact, then the current bias observed in senior university roles will continue.
Bodiam Castle is well known in castle studies; whether it was a fortified structure or built to display the status of the owner. This debate has been explored elsewhere, particularly by Professor Matthew Johnson. Traditionally the building has been considered from the exterior, with a few notable exceptions, further until recently only ground floor plans…
In Spring 2016 we were subcontracted by University of York to convert a visual model of the pre-1834 House of Commons, St. Stephen’s Chapel Westminster to an acoustic model. The work was commissioned as part of the Virtual St Stephen’s Project, an AHRC-funded research project and was a collaboration between the departments of History (Dr…
On Wednesday the AQA decided to scrap the A Level in Archaeology, and unsurprisingly the Archaeological world has responded.
As an Archaeologist I think this is a terrible idea to lose this qualification. As others have highlighted, there is a shortage in Archaeologists. Further, having a degree should not be the only gateway into a career which doesn’t have to be academic. Beyond encouraging people to start a career in archaeology there are a host of other reasons as to why archaeology is a great subject and others have written about them far more eloquently than me.
Before I continue, I have signed the petition, and I do think you should to.
However, I’m concerned with how the A Level is being discussed. It must offer a fantastic grounding for those wishing to begin their career, I don’t know because I didn’t have the opportunity to study it at A Level. It wasn’t offered at my 6th Form (the local comprehensive). You could argue I could have gone to an institution which did offer it or possibly studied it as an evening class. I possibly could have attended a different HE, but it wasn’t really an option. I’m not convinced there was a route via public transport and if there was it would have involved at least two buses and a journey winding through rural Wiltshire for over an hour in each direction. The argument with evening classes is the same, no buses ran out of my village after 6pm.
If we are being totally honest neither of these is the real problem. If I had really wanted to do an A Level in Archaeology either at a college or in the evening my parents could have taken me. I’m a white girl from a middle class background growing up in a village in the Cotswold’s with parents who have supported me through 10 years of education.
But that’s the point really isn’t it. Not everyone has that option.
When I started my degree 10 years ago I came straight from school with A Levels in Chemistry, Geography and Maths. I had done a bit of volunteering at a museum and had the standard long term love of the past. At every interview I had attended to get my place at university I was informed that I wouldn’t be any worse off for not having an A Level in Archaeology, History or a related subject. However, when I started I did feel behind my peers who had a stronger grounding.
I currently work for a commercial unit. A high percentage of our staff have a degree, but not all of them. Some staff have worked on commercial sites since they were 15, others have come into the company via our trainee scheme after they finished Further Education. Would the A Level have set them up any better for their career?
The opportunity to study, and now work in archaeology has been fantastic and I have loved every minute of it. I do not want to see that lost, and A Level’s particularly at colleges offer a fantastic gateway for people of all ages to engage with the subject or start their career. I would have loved to have taken it, I think I would have achieved better results and been more engaged with the other subjects I studied. But can we be clear that having an A Level in Archaeology is not essential or crucial, and it isn’t the only way to begin.
(Written in haste and trying to not whine)
At the end of the March I spent four days at the University of Oslo for the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) annual conference. AAL were fantastic and supported my attendance, as did a low income bursary from CAA International. Last summer, prior to getting a job with AAL, I agreed to…
I’ve just about recovered from what has been a crazy but exciting week. I’ve been off all over the place doing bits and pieces; this is the first of three blog posts about it.
The beginning of last week (25th June I think) myself and Sam Griffiths went over to Knole in Sevenoaks to run a mornings workshop on Digital Building Recording techniques. This was one of a series of workshops volunteers were attending over the week as part of the Knole Unwrapped volunteering project.
We were slotted in between James Wright a Buildings Archaeologist from MOLA giving an introduction to traditional building survey and Matt Champion, of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey, on Graffiti. This meant we were perfectly placed. Our activities for the volunteers gave them a hands-on experience of using a Total Station to record an elevation and an RTI setup to record graffiti.
Our day started with a short talk about the work that has been undertaken as part of the Elite Landscapes in South Eastern England Project and introduced the two techniques. I introduced the team to the methodology Penny Copeland and I used at Bodiam Castle, this is a Total Station connected directly to a laptop during data capture running TheoLT which links to AutoCAD allowing the recording to be visualised in real time. The advantages of this setup means that you can correct mistakes as you go. It also means that you make decisions about what you are recording while you are on site.
RTI stands for Reflectance Transformation Imaging. It is a recording technique which creates an image with interactive lighting. They are constructed from multiple images taken from the same position but under changing direction of illumination. The creation of RTI’s is very simple and requires little specialist equipment and the processing and viewing software is freely available online (Cultural Heritage Imaging). The process is very successful at highlighting changes in the surface’s shape and colour i.e. highlighting any present graffiti.
It was then time to have a go! We went out the Stable Court where we divided the group into two, half working with me on the Total Station and the other half using RTI to record graffiti with Sam. Both groups seemed to really enjoy both activities. I found it really interesting engaging with them over the use of the techniques and how they might apply to other projects.
James from Mola I think summed up the workshop by saying he felt how this was one of the best methods with engaging with groups. By introducing people with an interest to how we record, why we record and what we use it for it feels like we can get much closer to a collaborative engagement with the building.
The Great Tower at Dover Castle was built by Henry II in the late 12th century. It is an English Heritage property. In 2009 the tower was reopened following a huge project to re-present the interiors.
Unlike most projects that focus on just a couple of rooms in a building at Dover they have furnished and decorated the building nearly in its entirety. To do this they have gone beyond reproductions of existing items of 12th century furniture and instead embraced a wide range of research processes to produce the results.
The aim of the project was to evoke the appearance and atmosphere of the interiors on the occasion of a major royal event in the 12th century. The team working on the project stems not just from heritage professionals but historians, designers, craftspeople and artists. Following a large body of research instead of producing copies of items the furnishings and fittings were created in the 12th century mindset of design and creation. In doing so the project embraces uncertainty and creativity in its envisioning of the 12th century.
I feel that this idea should be embraced in the creation of CGI images as well. Throughout my thesis I have been asked by medievalists to provide hard evidence for each decision I have made. Although this is necessary to give my work substance I feel we should be embracing subjectivity at the same time. We should be moving towards this type of research and engagement following the research of the hard evidence embracing the style and design concepts of the period instead of just trying to trace real items from the medieval period, which we already acknowledge as few and far between.
The results at Dover are stunning, personally I feel visiting them provides a feel for 12th century life in a way that cannot be accessed through empty rooms and partially decorated spaces.
More information about the project can be found here.
At the end of June (27th and 28th to be precise) I am helping to organise a two day symposium exploring the built environment in the medieval and early modern period. Website with all the information is here http://buildingsandthebody.wordpress.com
This is just a quick post to say we have a fabulous line up of speakers, a beautiful venue lined up for the wine reception and a fascinating keynote. We want to encourage more attendies to register. When organising the sessions we decided to move away from the traditional series of papers followed by a keynote. Instead (broadly) each session is formed of 2 long papers and upto 2 short papers leading into a half hour roundtable discussion. The aim is to really try and discuss the subject matter in detail towards collaborative solutions and approaches.
Everyone is welcome no matter what background as we are also trying to work towards a fully collaborative approach, beyond discipline (archaeology, history, english), experience (we encourgae undergraduates) and beyond academic or commercial divides. We hope this is reflected in our program.
A bit of a self promotion, I will presenting a short paper on my acoustical work in the “New Approaches” session which if you are here I hope you would find interesting!
I have just come back for a weekend visiting the Ice Age Island Project on Jersey. During this time I spent a lot of time discussing the experience of sound with early humans/ other hominid species something I know nothing about I hasten to add. However, the issues if somewhat larger in an earlier period are still prevalent in my medieval work and primarily stem from how we can approach the experience of sound for a group of people whose experience of life is so departed from our own.
In the Medieval period I have discussed how the world was a lot quieter in comparison to how it is today, meaning that smaller noises would be heard more clearly and would be related to in a different way. However, these issues are even larger in the Paleolithic, my understanding is that in pre-modern humans there is a huge discussion about when language began to form. From what I have discussed with people there is no defined date to confirm when speech became possible. I was even more curious to discover that although this debate raged no thought had been turned to the development of the ear and how hominids relate to sound.
This primarily came out of a discussion about various experiments with sound that I have discussed briefly in my previous post. A lot of prehistoric work in Archaeoacoustics discusses the ephemeral nature of sound specifically in relation to echoes. Without our modern understanding of how echoes work they are assumed have been understood as magical or work of the gods. However, as Reznikoff (2008) suggests in his discussion on resonance maybe it was considered a more useful tool for exploration than light and sound. He discusses the use of sound to explore caves, where light travels only over short distances sound can be projected forward and used as a guide to find shorter or longer passages.
Both discussions have both issues and positive suggestions.
While on Jersey we clambered round to visit La Cotte de St. Brelade, the cave was very busy following a Jersey Heritage tour and instead we decided we would swim back and meet some of the other project members back on the main beach. Having swam out a short distance we saw our friends climbing up into the cave and thought it would be a good point to get a photo. Without much hope I shouted back up to them, my experiences with swimming and sailing has always suggested that sound does not project well. In fact I heard my voice echo back off the cliffs. My friend Jon Whitmore not only heard up but said he could hear us as clearly as if we were sat next to him. We could not hear him.
This acoustical phenomena might not have existed in the past, as with buildings landscapes change over time. Where we floating in the sea would have been dry land and this would have had an effect. Equally the erosion of local bedrock could have changed the acoustical properties of the headland. However, the water was only a couple of meters deep so our height was not too far out of reaching the site. A new suggestion is that this natural acoustical property could have been taken advantage of by those inhabiting the site. It could have been used as a signal for the approach of things or as a method of communication over a larger distance.
Either way it was a fascinating new way for me to experience the site and I can’t wait to get back there to go on a closer exploration.
Reznikoff, I. (2008). Sound resonance in prehistoric times: A study of Paleolithic painted caves and rocks. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 123(5), 4137–4141.