‘The Commercial’

So I’ve been hard at work for half a day now, putting my 7 hours in my ‘day job’. At the present I am writing the text for a publication of a site that was excavated in late 2008.  Whilst due to privacy reasons I can’t tell you where the site is, or who the work was done for, I can tell you about the amazing archaeology that we found. You might be thinking that it has been quite a while since we excavated the site, so why am I just working on the publication now?

Well, there is a huge amount of work to be done in what is called the ‘post-excavation’ stage of a project. Firstly the supervisor of the site must organise all of the records done on site and send all of the finds and samples away to the specialists to look at and make their reports. This, depending on the amount, can take months. After this stage an ‘Post-Excavation Assessment’ is completed by the site supervisor, which looks at the records and the specialist reports, and works out preliminarily what was found and what this may represent. It also outlines the publication to be undertaken later on. After this stage, this report has to be approved by the client and the county archaeologists which may take a few more months. A lot of time and further specialist analysis later, and here I am, three years later, writing the final text.

So what did we find? On a relatively small site we found evidence of occupation for 10,000 years! At first the site was occupied in the Mesolithic by hunter gatherers, shaping flint tools to hunt with. The site was revisited multiple times by different groups of families over hundreds of years. Later the site took on a ritual focus with the establishment of a large ringwork (a ring ditch) which may have been of a ceremonial function and was later expanded on by two smaller versions. This site would be have been revisited by people in the Neolithic as a spiritual site. There was further evidence for occupation in the Anglo-Saxon, and Post-Medieval period too. It’s an exciting project that should hopefully be published next year!!!

I’ll come back later to update on the PhD work done today,,,,


A Day In The Life

So what’s all this ‘geophysics’ nonsense about, eh?

I went to a lecture by an archaeologist at the local university yesterday, and he said that the most important thing about archaeology is to have fun. And this applies to geophysics and, indeed, any career (except accounting, I would imagine). I became an archaeological geophysicist out of passion, interest and a genuine enjoyment out of the job. Each site always has something new and fascinating to learn, and the site I am currently looking at is no exception.

But before I can do anything… where did I put my bloody laptop cable? I misplaced the power cable to my laptop about a week ago, and I ran the battery flat last night (I am writing this from my desktop computer), so I am having difficulty processing the data I collected a few days ago!

No matter. Let me now waffle on for a while about my current area of focus. I am putting together a proposal for a geophysical survey of a nineteenth-century railway near Melbourne (Australia). A temporary (i.e. it lasted for almost four years) settlement for the railway workers was established alongside the railway, and there was even a cemetery which is known to have the burials of a number of infants in a paddock nearby. I have been asked to find the graves (no grave markers exist at the site now) and also to try and find the settlement (which is believed to have been just tents and timber houses for the most part. The settlement site is about 700 x 700 metres in dimensions, so is quite a large site. I have decided to propose a magnetic susceptibility survey, the results of which will allow a magnetometry survey to be narrowed-down (to reduce costs and time spent in the field). This research is being done simply out of interest, rather than as part of a commercial project, so funding is going to be scarce. But I am truly excited about this one!

So today I am talking with Heritage Victoria about the proposal and preparing the proposal itself to pass on to the client. In between doing that, and writing this blog post, I am also doing a bit of marketing (which is a daily habit) to keep up interest, and have been discussing the railway settlement site with the Hunter Geophysics ‘fans’ on Facebook. I feel that informing the public about my work is vitally important; it is, after all, their history that I am researching. Facebook is just one method of letting the public know what I am up to. I am also preparing a presentation for the upcoming Royal Historical Society’s meeting in Bendigo (country Victoria) about my recent work in another cemetery (most of my work is in cemeteries!) – I want to get at least half an hour of work done on that today, but half the trouble is finding the time. It might be a job for the weekend. Finally, this evening, I have a meeting with the Secretary of the local historical society – she has been a mentor since my high school years; it will be good to catch up with her.

Now, it’s the end of the day; time for a Parma at the pub. Oh, wait, damn; I’m not doing fieldwork today – no Parma for me.