ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
I got the Oxbow 2014 bargain catalogue in the post the other day, and there are quite a few books that could be worth buying if you're interested in old bones and such. I have most myself (so I can't make use of the bargain price this time) and I really recommend them.

- Extinctions and Invasions: A Social History of British Fauna: Eight thousand years ago, when the sea cut Britain off from the rest of the Continent, the island's fauna was very different: most of the animals familiar to us today were not present, whilst others, now extinct, were abundant. Over the course of millennia humans have manipulated Britain's fauna. Certain species were brought to extinction and in their place new animals were introduced: some transported purposefully by invading populations, others sent as royal gifts from far off lands, whilst several species arrived as stowaways. The story of each is fascinating, telling of the changing and multi-layered relationship between humans and animals. Drawing on new research in the fields of archaeology, ecology and history, this book examines how human society, culture, diet, lifestyles and even whole landscapes were fundamentally shaped by the animal extinctions and introductions that occurred in Britain since the last Ice Age. (£7.95)
- Farmers, Monks and Aristocrats: The environmental archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Flixborough: The environmental archaeological evidence from the major estate centre at Flixborough (in particular the animal bone assemblage) provides a series of unique insights into Anglo-Saxon life in England during the 8th to 10th centuries. The research reveals detailed evidence for the local and regional environment, many aspects of the local and regional agricultural economy, changing resource exploitation strategies and the extent of possible trade and exchange networks. Bioarchaeological data from Flixborough have documented for the first time, in a detailed and systematic way, the significant shift in social and economic aspects of wider Anglo-Saxon life during the 9th century AD., and comment on the possible role of external factors such as the arrival of Scandinavians in the life and development of the settlement. (£9.95)
- Aspects of Anglo-Scandinavian York : The ten chapters in this book, each written by a specialist, place the Coppergate discoveries within the wider context of Viking Yorvik whilst demonstrating how far the study of Anglo-Scandinavian York has progressed in the last quarter century. Includes animal bones, plant remains, coinage, crafts, inscriptions, place- and streetnames etc. (£6.95)
- Excavations at Grimes Graves, Fascicule 4 : Subtitled 'Animals, environment and the Bronze Age economy' this volume describes the Bronze Age midden deposits found in Shaft X, and discusses and interprets the rich faunal deposits. (£4.95) If you've read an animal bone report that referenced Legge for cattle ageing, this is the book they were using.
- Safe Moor'd in Greenwich Tier: A Study of the Skeletons of Royal Navy Sailors and Marines excavated at the Royal Hospital Greenwich : Recent excavations in the cemetary revealed the burials of over a hundred Greenwich Pensioners, who had ended their long and colourful lives at the Hospital. These were sailors and mariners that sailed and fought in Britain's numerous wars of the 18th century. The hazards and physical demands of their lives are clearly reflected in their skeletons, with fractures, infections, amputations, joint disease and scurvy being common. Osteological findings are interpreted in the light of rich documentary sources on the social history of the lowerdeck of Nelson's Navy, and form an invaluable alternative data set in reconstructing the extraordinary lives of these 'picked and brine pickled survivors'. (£5) This is such a bargain!
ossamenta: Text: Women and geeks first! Oh no wait that's all of us. (Women and geeks first)
So that was 2013. A good year, if rather unremarkable eventwise. The main drawback was a computer ready for retirement mid-autumn, causing me to be without computer and internet until Christmas. Still trying to get a feel for the new one. There has been quite a few changes in software, not all of them for the better. Hopefully some of those might improve with upgrades.

Work was dominated by two huge rural sites, one Iron Age/Roman and one Roman. I’ve finished recording one of them and the other is still ongoing. I’m waiting for the phasing – a problem with large sites: ideally I should only record securely dated contexts, but if I have to wait for the phasing to be done, I haven’t got enough time for recording or analysis before the deadline – and once the phasing is done I can start analysing one site and do the final recording of the other.

I didn’t go to any conferences, but to two PZG meetings (i.e. the Professional Zooarchaeology Group, an association of zooarchaeologists in the UK who meet twice a year to discuss methodologies, new research, case studies etc), one on identification of canids (dog/wolf/fox etc), felids (cat/wild cat/lynx etc) and mustelids (badger/otter/marten/mink/weasel/stoat etc), and one on pathologies. Very fun and useful!

As I was without computer for so long, I thought I would have lots of time for crafts in the autumn. Erm, not so much. Or at least not in the sense of having things finished. I did finish my crocheted shawl I had been working on for a while, and it’s lovely and huge and warm. That was my first crochet since I guess I was about eleven/twelve. The pattern was very easy and very forgiving with uneven gauge. Thoroughly recommended. The only drawback is that it makes a equalsided triangle, and I would have preferred one with a wider angle so you could tie the ends behind your back without having a shawl that went down to your knees. Of course this is possible, by using other stitches, but it’s not something I would like to improvise as a beginner.
I also did a couple of needlebooks, some shown here, but the others are not entirely finished. The embroidery is done, but I need to add the lining and do the closing straps. I like brick stitch embroidery. It’s quite fast once you get the pattern (usually after the first two repeats) and enough mindless that you can combine it with watching tv.
In contrast, I haven’t yet quite “got” Scanian woollen embroidery, perhaps because it’s a figures, rather than geometric repeats. I’m still working on my pin cushion, but it’s perhaps telling that I started a new brickstitch needlebook rather than kept going with the pin cushion. However, I love the look of Scanian woollen embroidery, and I will persevere!

I also tried a different craft this year: wood carving. It’s something I’ve long wanted to do, but there hasn’t been many opportunities for it. There are weekend and week courses, but they are usually held somewhere in the countryside, and without a car they can be difficult to get to. Plus you have to add accomodation and food to the cost. But Barn the Spoon in London does day-courses, and I managed to book myself for one. If having the choice, his week-long courses (evenings, not full days) are probably better, as there is more time to absorb things. The day-course was eight hours, and after six I felt my brain was saturated with new knowledge. However, it was great fun and I’m now a proud owner of one spatula and two spoons. Not the prettiest spoons: chunky and uneven in the carving, but not bad for an absolute beginner. I can see the shapes of really pretty spoons inside them! Actually, one of the spoons turned out to be an awesome baking spoon, perfect for making doughs.

I went to two big dancing events: the Oxford Lindy Exchange and the Cambridge Lindy Exchange. Both had good bands to dance to and lovely dancers to dance with, but I think I prefer the Oxford exchange. Mainly because a sunny summer event (picknicks!) is far nicer than a rainy late autumn event. The Cambridge treasure hunt was quite fun though. Maybe we should nick the idea?

So what else did I do in 2013? I didn’t go to any plays, only saw two films (Much ado about nothing and Hobbit 2), didn’t travel abroad (apart from home to visit family and friends), but I did go to several exhibitions and read a lot of books.

I did some calculations and found out that there were so many high-profile exhibitions at the British Museum that it would be profitable to shell out for a membership. They are rather expensive, but you get free entrance to all special exhibitions, no need to book tickets, just go past the queue and head in! Quite good when all weekend tickets have been booked already on two exhibitions you just have to see. And 10% off shop and café is not to be sneezed at either, even if that’s not the main draw. So I got to see Ice Age art, things from Pompeii, South American gold artefacts and Japanese porn. I also saw the 17th century Cheapside treasure hoard at the Museum of London and the Viking exhibition at the National Museum in Copenhagen. The latter will come to the British Museum in spring, and since my membership card will still be valid then, I’ll probably see it again. After all, it’s free.

As usual, I read lots of books. I was very lucky this year, as my favourite author trio: Jo Graham, Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold, all came out with books. What I really love about their writing is the solid sense of history. Admittedly I’m not an expert in any of the time periods they deal with, so there may be things other readers would raise their eyebrows for, but I can’t feel that the characters are spokespersons for modern people, as sometimes happens, or that period social norms are ignored for character convenience. Also, as one reviewer put it: “adult characters acting like god-damn adults!”
- The Emperor’s Agent is the second in Jo Graham’s series about Elza Versfelt (a.k.a. Ida St Elme), going from naive socialite in Directoriate France to Napoleon’s spymaster (think Judi Dench’s M). It’s based on Ida St Elme’s memoirs, but also connected to Graham’s other series, The Numinous World (Black ships, Hand of Isis, Stealing fire), which follows the reincarnated soul of a person, sometimes woman, sometimes man, always with an affinity to the divine (admittedly, far easier to be “god-touched” in ancient Egypt than in enlightment Paris…). Readers of both series will probably recognise characters from the ancient world popping up in their new bodies in 18/19th century France. This is not a strictly historical novel, perhaps more historical fantasy, as Graham uses reincarnation, gods and magical rituals to good effect.
- If I had been very lucky I would have got two books in 2013 from Jo Graham’s and Melissa Scott’s series The Order of the Air, about a avation team/members of a magical lodge in the late 1920s and 1930s. But due to marketing, only Steel Blues (#2) was published in 2013, and Silver Bullet (#3) is due early this year. This series is actually part of the Numinous World, although there is very little cross-over. Elza’s and Michel’s new incarnations have a brief interacting with the team in Steel Blues, but you wouldn’t need to read either series to enjoy the other one. Steel Blues is a great team adventure in the same style as the previous book in the series, dealing with a cross-continental aviation race, a stolen necklace with a curse on it, a Russian countess (alleged) and jewel thief (verified), and the unsolved murders of the New Orleans Axeman.
- Death by silver, by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold, is a detective story/gay romance set in an AU Victorian England where magic not only exists, but is fully integrated in society. Magic (here: metaphysics) can for example be studied at university, there are reputable (and disreputable) dealers in enchanted objects, correspondence courses in magic suitable for housewifes etc. The story involves metaphysician Ned Mathey whose client was found murdered by an enchanted candlestick the day after Mathey had performed a curse-removing spell from all silverware in the house. Mathey brings in consulting detective Julian Lynes (an old schoolfriend and currently friends-with-benefits) in order to solve the mystery and clear his own reputation. Book two, A non-conforming death, is coming this year, and I’m really looking forward to meeting Mathey, Lynes and Mathey’s awesome secretary Miss Frost again.
- Another praised book was Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, which I expect to see shortlisted for the Tiptree award. In a far future world, where the Radch empire is expanding across space, one of its huge warship/AIs has found itself betrayed and almost entirely destroyed, its mind residing solely in a single ancillary (i.e. a human from a conquered world whose brain is entirely overwritten with the AI’s conciousness) soldier, rather than in the ship itself and in the hundreds of ancillaries it once was. And One Esk Nineteen is out for revenge, if she can get offworld and find the Radch emperor.
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
The spring Oxbow catalogue came yesterday. So many wonderful books…. If only I had more money for buying them, more space to store them and more time to read them. But there are some really cool stuff that I feel the need to if not acquire, then to read them in the uni library.

cut )
ossamenta: Fossil of a pterosaur (Rhamphorhyncus longicaudus). (Flygödlefossil)
I'm not very impressed with March so far. Especially when compared to the unusually warm March of 2012: A year ago I went to Canterbury and walked along the river eating ice cream. I certainly wouldn't do it now. Quite frankly I'm more in the mood for curling up on the sofa with a hot drink and a good book. Thankfully yesterday's snow is mostly gone now, but the temperature is hovering around 0°C, mostly on the wrong side.

 photo Canterburymarch-12_zps0632a870.jpg
Pretty, sunny Canterbury...


But I might at least pass on a few links and close the tabs:

- On my wish list: the unconventional paleoart book All yesterdays, rejecting the standard view of these extinct animals, and by comparison showing us what future paleontonlogists might have thought cats, monkeys and birds would have looked like if they only had the skeletons to go by. The talks from the book launch are well worth watching, even if you have no budget to buy the book itself. Reviews by What's in Johns freezer? (a cool* anatomy blog) and Tor.com, with several illustrations.

*: no pun intended....

- I was linked to a piece in Science Nordic about how fish corrupt carbon dating of pots, which unfortunately lacked several details from the original Danish source (not the Danish version of the Science Nordic page, that's the same as the English one). For starters, it's not the pots that are radio carbon dated, as most people interested in archaeology would realise, as pottery itself doesn't contain carbon (if it has been tempered by organic material, this would likely burn away in the firing), but burnt food crusts on the inside. Due to the reservoir effect of marine life, if the burnt food contained fish, shellfish or other marine creatures, the radiocarbon dating could be off by several hundred or thousand years. And since it is hard to tell what any carbonised crust originally contained, it would be problematic to use radio carbon dating of food crusts alone as a way to, for example, date the introduction of pottery.

- The Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated Irish gospel manuscript, is now online!

- and from the hilarious site WTF evolution? (go home evolution, you're drunk!), scientists are trying to resurrect a frog species that used its stomach as a womb. It's a recent extinction (and discovery, too: it was discovered in 1972, and extinct in 1983) so they have plenty of genetic material to work with. And considering the world wide threat to frogs due to habitat loss, it may be a good thing to have experience in - we certainly will need it again.
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
While browsing the Swedish Arkeologiforum (Archaeology forum - as if you couldn't guess :-) ), I came across a post on new excavations at Illerup Ådal. They haven't started yet, but funding has been acquired, so I will keep any eye out for more news. I find the Iron Age warfare sacrificial deposits in the North German/South Danish bogs fascinating, and it will be interesting to see what more they will find. They have found so many weapons, animals, and pieces of the warriors' outfits, but now they are going to dig in an area where lots of human bones have been discovered. Warriors on the losing side, or the dead ones on the winning side?
Article in Danish, and lots more information on Illerup Ådal here.

I'm planning to spend some money on books for my Ph.D. idea and through various site hopping* found a free online book (.pdf) on Medieval and Post-medieval smithing: Schmiedehandwerk in Mittelalter und Neuzeit. Beiträge des 6. Kolloquiums des Arbeitskreises zur archäologischen Erforschung des mittelalterlichen Handwerks. Perhaps it can be of interest? (The dead tree version is out of stock)


*: Oxbow and Antikmakler are great sites for archaeology books. Readers, do you have any favourites?


Remember my lament on the lack of zooarchaeology blogs a few posts ago? Kristina Killgrove of Powered by osteons gave me a really good tip: Jake's bones. It's a great blog written by a ten year old bone collector. I wish my parents let me have such fun when I was a kid. The fact that we lived in a large town and not in the wilds of Scotland may of course have something to do with it...
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
After much irritation due to a probably collision with online forms and office firewall, and last minute editing (I need this reference - oops, it's in the office), the Ph.D. application is handed in. I ought to work on the leg warmers tonight, to get the pattern finished so I can start on the left one. However, my brain has already decided that this will be a relaxing evening, with takeaway and a good book.

One of my favourite authors, [livejournal.com profile] jo_graham has a new book out later this year and Michelle Moran, who apparently is a big historical fiction writer in the US, is going to blurb it. And since the idea of blurbing is to get fans of the blurber to buy the book, I figure this could go in the other direction too. So now I have a book on Madame Tussaud (the one of waxwork fame) in my bag. Since Graham's book also takes place during the French revolution and Directoriat, it will be interesting to compare them.
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
First, thanks for the well-wishes. The interview seemed to go well: some things that they liked about me, and some things I could improve on. We'll see what happens.

The new Oxbow summer catalogue is out and I thought I'd give a shout-out to some that seemed interesting. A lot of the catalogue is on Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, which I'm not enough familiar with to tell which books are of general relevance and which are only for the artefact/regional specialists. If you are interested in those periods I recommend you check out their website. An exception was made for books of interest to re-enactors and people interested in making replicas of historical finds, as there were a few of those in the Roman section.

Cut for lots of books )
ossamenta: (Book store = shiny!)
When I was an undergraduate, one of the high moments was when the Oxbow catalogue came to the library. Pure archaeology porn! Lots of books to put on the Christmas wishlist.

And then I moved to Oxford, and found that my route to work took me past their office. Even better, I found that you could go in there and browse their bookshelves! Sometimes there was a sign saying "SALE" (extremely tempting, and very dangerous for the bank account).

Today, the new winter catalogue came to the office. Not so many interesting books for me this time (which probably is good, as it does add up, and I have some travel plans to save money for), but I thought I'd give a shout-out to any re-enactors or craftsmen reading this.
The Salisbury Museum's Medieval artefact catalogues are on sale for £9.95 each:
- Harness pendants, seals, rings, spurs, tiles, coins, mortars, etc.
- Pilgrim Souvenirs and secular badges
- Bone Objects, Enamels, Glass Vessels, Pottery, Jettons, Cloth Seals, Bullae and other Base Metal Objects

And not forgetting the textile people:
- Dress in Anglo-Saxon England £14.95

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ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
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