A busy May

May. 29th, 2017 11:39 am
ossamenta: Medieval manuscript showing a man trimming the thickness of a hide with a knife (Pergamenter)
After a lovely four-day weekend, I guess it’s time to tackle the backlog. May has not been an idle month for me: two conferences abroad, and then all the usual writing and adding articles to the library.

I was very lucky to be invited to the LVCAS 360° meeting in Oxford, where researchers in several fields* (and a few PhD students) met to present their work on a 11th century annotated gospel and discuss how similar studies should be carried out in the future. I didn’t have that much to contribute, being only in my first year, but I met some interesting (and famous in their field) people, which will help me a lot for my research. After all, when you do multidisciplinary studies you can’t be an expert in all fields. Instead you have to get to know experts so you don’t fall into stupid traps that any expert of that field could have seen coming from miles away.
*: protein analyses to identify species, spectometry to identify ink types (connected to trade in ink and materials to make ink from), paleography to identify the two scribes working on the book (nicely correlated to quality of parchment too – only one of them was considered enough skilled for the fine vellum), sexing of animals through dna, and the usual book production studies (ruling, binding etc).

My next trip took me closer to home: to Århus in Denmark, for the first Nordic Zooarchaeology meeting. A total of 20 zooarchaeologists, from Denmark, Sweden and Norway met at the Archaeology department at Moesgaard, just outside Århus, to discuss how we do things (same/different?) in our institutions and countries and how we want to work in the future. There were so many differences due to organisational setups: In Sweden zooarchaeology is decentralised, whereas in Denmark (and Norway?) it’s very centralised. Almost all animal bones are analysed in Copenhagen (a few museum send their bones to Århus). This affects the cooperation between archaeologists who write the reports and the zooarchaeologists – how easy is it to get information on the contexts where the bones came from? Are the bones analysed in time for the results to be incorporated into the archaeological report? What’s the research situation on geological collections vs. archaeological collections? How and where do you store the bones after the analysis? What sampling strategies do you have on sites that will yield a huge amount of bone? etc etc. The meeting was an astounding success, and we all agreed that we had to have one next year too. It will be in Stockholm, but the date is not set.

I had never been to Århus before, and since we were meeting (and stayed) outside Århus proper, I only saw the town when we went for a conference dinner. But what I saw whetted my appetite, and I really need to have a week or so in Jutland. So many things to see and do there. I can also recommend a visit to Moesgård Museum. The museum building is brand-new, and has a great grasscovered sloping roof that can be used for picnics in summer. Their prehistoric exhibitions are fantastic, making good use of projections and soundscape. In October their new medieval exhibition will open, so I have good incentive to go back then. But that will have to be in spring/summer 2018, so I can walk around in the lovely decidious woods that go from the museum all the way to the beach. Honestly, I don’t understand how the archaeology students manage to finish their work on time – if I had studied there, I would have spent way too much time being outside (and not writing).
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...

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ossamenta: Weasel skull (Default)
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