ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
This was the 10th anniversary of the Professional Zooarchaeology Group, and it was held in Fort Cumberland, a 18th century fort in Portsmouth where (parts of) Historic England have their offices. There were lots of good talks, celebratory cake and wine, a guided tour of the fort, and a very interesting workshop on identifying dogs from wolves and foxes, as well as sexing dogs.

cut for serious length )
ossamenta: A flock of sheep from a medieval manuscript (Sheep)
I am going to the EAA! Train tickets have been bought, and I'm hoping to find accommodation via Airb'n'b (hostels are not bad, but there is always a risk of loud drunk people in the middle of the night). And once payday has come, I'll register for the conference. Travel and accomodation are definitely prioritized as they are more time crucial when you want to get the cheaper options.

I went to Matthew Collins' talk on his work on Medieval parchment and DNA at the University's Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA) last Tuesday, and it made me so enthusiastic about all the cool things you can find out through research. Sometimes work is a bit repetitive and it's good to take the time to digest the new research that is happening. His (and his colleagues') work is really interesting. Since parchment is essentially dried skin it contains DNA, much better preserved than that in leather objects found on archaeological digs. And by using a rubber you can extract bits of DNA - no need to actually destroy parts of the parchment, just send in the scraps to the laboratory - and see what animal the parchment was made of, what sex it was, and potentially track breeds through time. He also said that if you could digitize manuscripts to such high resolution that you could see the hair follicles you could potentially see if it came from a young or adult animals (much smaller distance between follicles in young animals). Unfortunately most manuscript digitizations are not done to such high resolution, as researchers have been focussing on the actual text and images on the pages. There are probably hundreds of thousands of Medieval manuscripts and legal documents in UK archives, not to mention what's out there in the rest of Europe (and in museums/archives in the rest of the world). Such a massive source!
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.

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ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
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