Update: The emergency referred to below is now a long-term medical problem which will demand my full attention for at least four months. Nonetheless, since the problem is no longer acutely balanced on a knife’s edge, I’ll probably make the occasional post to this blog as a diversion, if nothing else. I’ll start by responding to some of the comments placed in the last month. Please feel free to keep leaving comments on posts old or new: it’s welcome to get the notification, read a new opinion, and to think about archaeology a little, at least.
November 9th: Due to an urgent family emergency I will not be updating this blog for an indefinite time. If you wish to be notified when posts are made in the future, please add your name and email under the “Email Subscription” list to the right. Quentin
Due to an urgent family emergency I will not be updating this blog for an indefinite time. If you wish to be notified when posts are made in the future, please add your name and email under the “Email Subscription” list to the right. Quentin
Vancouver Island, to Scale, off the Coast of Sumatra.
Space is important to archaeologists, but it can be really easy to have a distorted sense of how big the world is, and how big different parts are compared to each other. One big reason for this globally is that common map projections tend to make more northerly and southerly places appear much larger. But on a local scale, even knowing that a place is so many square kilometres compared to some other place is not always that illuminating. It’s hard for a small human to get their head around big spaces, or abstract ones.
This all matters because what archaeologists study is the human scale of feet-on-ground, and it is easy to lose that when confronted with a top-down view, bird-in-air, which apart from anything else, is pretty much a point of view no human has ever occupied, at least until very recently. It is pretty handy then to find an easy to use online tool called MapFrappe, which allows you to outline a geographic feature, then drag it to anywhere in the world – while preserving its map projection scale.
For example, Vancouver Island is a familiar feature to many NW Coast archaeologists.
Vero Beach, Florida, mammoth engraving. Source: National Geographic.
I’ve been vaguely aware that in 2009 at Vero Beach (map) near Miami, a sensational find came to light of a bone with a mammoth engraved onto it. So far there has not been a lot to say about it but now I read that Dennis Stanford at the Smithsonian has inspected it and found no reason to think it is not genuine (yes, that kind of double-negative convoluted opinion).
Anyway, the story is interesting in its own right and perhaps has some lessons for us on the NW Coast as well, which I’ll discuss at more length below.
Is this laptop even turned on? Actually, yes, I got a lot of work done.
Well, I am back from my twin trips away from blogland and it’ll be time for new posts soon. First, a necessary update: the winner of the snap quiz (name the site, and the technique used to produce the map) is the mysteriously anonymous “bbster“, for answering the Bridge River Site and use of magnetometry. It’ll be hard to hit me up for the beer anonymously, bbster, but perhaps if you bought me quite a few first then my memory would fade anyways. Use the 10,000 blog bragging points wisely! Poster “Mad Dog” came close, and quickly, for Bridge River site but “Electro-Sensitivity” is sadly inaccurate. The image is from a recent progress report on a multiyear project at that site near Lillooet, directed by Dr Anna Prentiss from the University of Montana, and as promised I will post more on that soon. In the meantime I will chip away at some comments left over the past few weeks.
It's definitely not turned on in this picture. Note the side-by-side coffee and wine options.
Being crudely made of more than one piece of wood, their ships were fire hazards.
The Vikings are better known as the Haida of the North Atlantic, so I am sure locals will be delighted to know that Victoria’s newly emplaced Viking Archaeologist, UVIC’s own Dr. Erin McGuire, will be speaking at this month’s Archaeological Society of BC, Victoria Chapter meetings. As ever, these talks are free and open to the public – they just require a modicum of navigational skill to make it to the Pacific Forestry Centre (see the map below). Unfortunately, I am on a bad skid of not being able to make the ASBC so regrets in advance, and if the winner of the mystery quiz (below) shows, they will not be getting their free beer.
You want to live where? Living and dying in Viking Iceland
Dr Erin McGuire, University of Victoria
Tuesday October 19th at 7.30, Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 West Burnside Road (map)
Well, sadly I am going more or less completely “off the grid” for about 10 days so with the possible exception of next Saturday there won’t be any new posts. Regular blogsitter, and soon to be Dr, Sara Perry, will be in residence swatting spam with the same effortless, graceful savagery she uses on her intellectual foes. Sara’s current project, a mini-conference on Visual Archaeology at Southampton in the UK, is worth a look.
Speaking of Visual Archaeology, I leave you with the image above. First correct answer posted below as to what it represents, and which site it is, wins 10,000 blog bragging points and a pint of beer if they are ever in the Velvet Rut, or Blog World Headquarters. I’ll make a post on the study when I get back. If you’re jonesin’ for some NW Coast Archaeology, check out the archives from the selection to the right, or try a random post.
Emeryville Shell Mound, San Francisco, and sea level change. Source: Spatial History Project.
If you’re at all a map geek – and most archaeologists have that tendency – then you might enjoy flipping around Stanford’s Spatial History Mapping Project. This project is intended to further creative visual analysis and representation of historical events and phenomena. Luckily for us, they apply their skills to some archaeological problems, such as the relationship between sea level change and shell mound development illustrated above:
Did rising sea levels force native people to raise their shellmounds to stay above the tides? The visualization suggests that no, mound building was unrelated to sea level rise.
You can see that particular page here.
Landing craft picking up the last of the UVIC-GINPR archaeology fieldschool from Princess Bay on Portland Island.
OK, enough late summer lounging: I think it is time to be making a few posts on this blog. I can’t guarantee super-reliable service but will try to drag up some interesting links for the perusal of my seven readers. While I was gone, WordPress unexpectedly changed the “theme” (template) of this blog and in the process destroyed a bunch of drafts I had made, which might be just as well overall, though annoying nonetheless. I’m going to start by answering a few, but probably not all, of the comments people have left in the last month.
UVIC's own Roughage going to ground at the newly discovered, exciting "Kilgii Channel" site, while Swiffer models trendy "Howler'sReady(tm) duct-taped boot
Well, my ten days in town between projects turned out to be more like a few days in town, after I complacently relaxed for a couple of days then caught a horrible summertime flu, getting back healthy just in time to spend a few days running around madly to help prepare for the UVIC fieldschool. *phew*
So the blog will stay on hiatus for a another four weeks after which time I hope to have no excuses! Sara Perry will once again kindly stomp out spam, when not stamping out misconceptions via her summer field work at Çatalhöyük
By the way, if you live on Pender Island or Saturna Island, I will be giving public lectures there on the evenings of July 30th and 31st respectively. Look out for posters and I will try to make an announcement even though I’ll be on an island with limited presence on the grid.
A massive sneeze, or summertime boating off Cape St. James?