ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
It's the end of the first conference day and I'm knackered. Talks from 8am to 6pm - I filled nine A4 pages in my notebook. But it was interesting talks, on topics as shattered as scientific analyses of Roman eggshells, written records on 14th century sheep houses, and medieval urban waste managements. And then there was a party afterwards in the greenhouses in the botanical gardens. I was too busy taking notes to tweet someting - hope you weren't too disappointed. Tomorrow will be a bit easier: the talks only lasts until half past three. Hopefully I can find some time to see the Hunterian museum.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Soon I'm off very early to bed, since I need to get up very early (way before sunrise) and start my travels to the EAA conference in Glasgow. I hope I can get some sleep on the way there...

I also hope to start on my almost brand new twitter account. We'll see how it goes. It probably won't be live tweeting, since I will be too busy taking notes.
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: Weasel skull (Default)
I'm still in two minds whether to go to the EAA conference or not. There are a couple of really interesting sessions that could be very useful for my ph.d. idea, but it is not a cheap conference. If I could see how many talks will be relevant for me, it would help me make the decision (because I would have to buy travel tickets very soon before the prices rise). They were supposed to publish the programme the last of May, but it's still not up. The general session programme is, on the other hand, and I found out that the sessions I have a real or vague interest in, are all on the Thursday. And the two very interesting sessions are in full conflict...

Admittedly having everything on the Thursday would mean that the rest of the conference days could mostly be set aside for sightseeing, which would be on the plus side of things. I've never been to Scotland, so the conference would give me a chance to see Glasgow (and Edinburgh - after all, it's only an hour away on the train), even if the Highlands and the Hebridees would have to wait for another time.
ossamenta: Close-up of Viking Age rune stone (Ashmolean runestone)
Spring has finally sprung, and as my mood picks up again with the longer daylight hours, I'll try to get into the the habit of posting more often. Remember, this blog is not dead, just occasionally a bit dormant.

In the ongoing saga of my Ph.D. attempts, it has turned out that there might not be enough assemblages of enough large size to do all the things I wanted to do. Sigh. I talked to a colleague about my options, and she adviced me to go for one of my alternative research ideas. Naturally, that was the most vague and least pre-researched one. So now I'm back in the library all evenings and checking that I have enough material for it to work. It's slow going. But at least they have a lot of books and journals, not limited to those within the UK border. Hopefully I'll have assembled a decent amount of data by the end of the month and can see if the new Ph.D. idea is doable.

Otherwise it's been the classic grumble of "if only I had more money"* - not only because most of my Ph.D. problems could be solved that way: German universities seem to be happy to accept most Ph.D. students, but the drawback is that you have to fund your 3-4 years of ph.d.ing yourself by grants or money in the bank. Last year, or possibly the year before, an interesting conference on environmental urban archaeology was announced on the ZooArch mailing list and I carefully printed the email to remind me to check for papers as the time drew near. Naturally I only just recalled the conference, and sure enough: lots of interesting papers, but not only did the early bird option end mid-March, what with travel and accommodation even €120 would be too expensive for me right now. I'll just have to see if any of the talks ends up on Academia.edu or in journals later on... I will have to have the same approach with the European Archaeology Association's annual conference as well. It's in Glasgow this year and, again, interesting talks and sessions. I'm particularly interested in the wool session and Lee Broderick just posted his abstract on the use of waste to interpret trade and craft in Medieval towns (probably for the dirt session). And yes, you can apply for travel and registration cost grants, but as an employed independent researcher who is neither presenting a poster, a talk or chairing a session, it would be extremely unlikely for me to get one. And I don't begrudge the Ph.D. students who get them. They probably earn less than I.

But I have to put money aside for next year. Not only is it the ICAZ (International council for ArchaeoZoology) every-four-year-conference, but that year's theme for the International Medieval Congress in Leeds is Food, feast and famine. The IMC has been on my wish list for many years, and now there is actually a theme that is really relevant to my work! I had to sit on my hands to not attempt to present a paper - as much as I would have loved to do that, I'm actually way too busy right now and adding more important things is not going to help.

*: Money this year is going towards one pair of handmade medieval shoes for re-enactment (finally! proper shoes that suits my time period!!!) and a holiday trip home to Sweden.
ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
Today I sent off my fifth Ph.D. application, to Lund University in Sweden. I hope this one will have more success than the other ones. But all is not rest and quiet now - there are lots of things happening this spring and summer, and that's excluding my actual job.

Ahead of me are:
- Making a poster for the European Association of Archaeologists's annual meeting in Helsinki this August.
- Writing (and giving) a talk on animals in Roman Britain for the university's Roman discussion forum sometime next term.
- start working on the university diet article.
- help with the organisation of the Oxford Lindy Exchange. Possibly doing a guided tour of Oxford.

Somewhere in all this I will also have to work on the New Year resolutions (well, technically I don't make resolutions, I make plans, as these feel more flexible and can easily be postponed to next year if circumstances warrant), i.e. reducing my pile of almost finished craft objects.

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