UK

Novel electrical resistivity tomography @ The University of Bradford

Today, like almost every day between May and September this year I’ve been working on my MSc research Project. Instead of just explaining what I’ve been doing today i thought it would be more interesting to describe what is going into my individual research project.

I’m experimented with a new novel way of collecting electrical resistivity tomography data  with a zzGeo FlashRes64 which as you might expect involves a significant amount of lab and field data collection.

To allow inversion of these novel techniques far too much of my time has been devoted to developing software to allow analysis of the data, and investigation of different visualisation techniques. Though  it does make a nice change from the driving rain outside.

FlashRes to Geotomo program

Before going out in the snow and rain its important to know that the data collected will be as good as possible. This means i spend a lot of time visualising different data collection techniques as point clouds as below. I promise they end up being quite relaxing.

Eventually after determining the best collection strategy, standing out in the rain and the cold for hours, extracting, converting and comparing data you do end up with a decent representation of whats beneath the surface.

 

P.S You should be able to zoom and play with the images above. If you can’t i’d suggest a modern HTML5 compatible browser

I can iz archaeologizt?

Where were you on the Day of Archaeology, 2011? I’ve spent my day (so far) moderating posts for the Day of Archaeology and spreading word about the event on social media. I suspect the other members of the organising committee for #dayofarch are stuck with the same predicament. We’ve been amazed by the response to the day; it’s great fun to be involved in something with such a wide breadth of contributions and such international interest.

As much as I like the metablogging aspect of dedicating a post to a day of reading other posts, spending a day overindulging in coffee and chatting online I’m left thinking “So what is there to discuss?” And yet things like today are not that different than how I’ve spent some of my time in my last 3 years as the head of digital at L – P : Archaeology. The task of collecting and organising data from archaeological projects, excavations or otherwise, and getting that data into a format which is useful to archaeologists and the public is an overwhelming one. I’ve worked with commercial excavations in London (Prescot Street); with research projects abroad (Villa Magna); with community-driven archaeological projects (Thames Discovery Programme); with international collaborations (FastiOnline). In all of the above there’s been a focus on engaging people with the past, on opening information to a wider audience, and encouraging new voices in the discussion.

I finish up my 6 years at L – P this month, today in fact although courtesy of some unused annual leave I’ve had my last week off, to begin a programme of (yet further) study at Brown University in the autumn. We’ve recently finished up a new release (v1.0!) of the ARK open source archaeological database system. If you’ve not heard about it already, or if you’re interested in this much-improved latest release, you can check out our website. The team from Villa Magna are working toward a comprehensive digital publication for the site stratigraphic narrative which, paired with ARK, will help future researchers to use the data from our excavations to ask new questions. The Thames Discovery Programme finishes up a stream of Heritage Lottery funding this September, passing the project on to the local volunteers originally trained by the project. Working with the team at Day of Archaeology, contacts and friends from the last six years, to encourage online discussion and narrative about archaeology serves as a pretty apropos bookend to this digital work.

Based solely on impressions external to the discipline (and some particularly old-school archaeologists), ‘archaeologists’ are the people in the trench with mattocks and trowels, the sandal-wearing beardies and the tweed-jacketed academics, occupying a space somewhere between Indiana Jones and Time Team in the imaginations of the public. But the profession covers so much more ground than that, and there are so many other important skills needed to make a successful project or to get the story of archaeology to the public. The characterisations above are no more the only archaeologists than are heart surgeons the only doctors, or robins the only birds. Archaeology as a discipline encorporates aspects of classics and history, anthropology, chemistry, computer science, geography, forensics/medicine… The list is, truly, endless. This variety of interdisciplinary interests results in a variety of interdisciplinary professionals, a variety of interesting jobs and a variety of interesting personalities. It is maintaining and expanding this variety that is most at risk when we talk of the impact of the global recession on the archaeology in education and in practice. Let’s hope the content from today’s posts helps both to reinforce the importance in protecting and enhancing our unique skillsets and to celebrate the diversity of archaeological practice.

Found it!

I have located some flint tools donated to the museum a number of years ago. No wonder I couldn’t find them. They are tiny. They were unearthed near Frensham (just south of Farnham) and the finder kindly wrote all of the grid references on to the bags. The finder has given a number of other objects to the museum in the past and it is great to have people in the local community donating to the museum regularly and increasing our knowledge of the local area. On this occasion he has donated 23 flint tools.

One of my main tasks at the Museum of Farnham is to deal with the ‘accessioning backlog’. To ‘accession’ an object is to formally accept it into the collection and deal with all of the paper work that comes with this process and finally find a home for the object. Quite a few museums have problems with ‘backlogs’ of objects. This is generally because there are not enough staff hours to deal with the backlog and other things such as events, applying for funding etc. appear more pressing and have solid deadlines which need meeting. If some flint has sat in a corner for a year it can sit in the corner for another year and be totally fine…right? Not really. The longer objects are left in limbo the more chance there is of information about them being lost and objects deteriorating due to poor packaging and an unstable environment.

So on with the paper work, assigning an accession number, taking photographs, recording all of the information about the objects onto a database (we use Past Perfect http://www.museumsoftware.com/), recording the same information onto an index card as a backup and  finding a home for the object in the archaeology store. Should take some time with 23 to do…

Discovering Bute’s Archaeology – a view from a Scottish island 12.30pm

Swimming done and a useful trip – bumped into one of our regular crew in the local butchers who is doing a distance learning degree in archaeology: promised him to get his excavation forms back to him ASAP (oops!)

Quick bite of lunch and then a pleasant half hour in the sunshine talking lithics with the specialist who is looking at the material we recovered from last years excavations at Scalpsie Barrow. A great excavation and one of my favourite spots on the island.  You can see more about that and all the other Discover Bute activities at www.discoverbute.com

 


Busy day!

It’s been a busy day so far. The meeting with AAI&S has now finished, and was very successful. Look out for a press release about the merger. We’ve also been making some exciting plans for next year’s Conference (which will be in Oxford 18 – 20 April).

I’ve organised an inspection panel for a organisation that’s applied to become Registered with us, and we’re continuing to write up the benchmarking reports for those of our current Registered Organisations who need to reregister this year (they do so every two years, to make sure they’re still operating as we expect them to). I’m also getting some last minute nomination forms in from people eager to be on the Buildings Archaeology Group’s committee, and rounded up what training courses our groups have done this year for Alex, who’s writing the Annual Report at the moment. I’m currently typing up the last edits on the text of The Archaeologist for our designer, as that will go to press next month. This issue is the conference round-up. A copy of the new ‘Londinium’ map has just arrived on my desk for review (in the following edition I suspect). It’s very good, Kirsten’s just showed me the iphone app. I like the one-finger excavation technique!

Earlier today we released an exciting statement about the new Scottish government planning advice note. We are particularly pleased with the stipulation that archaeological work required through the planning process should conform to the relevant IfA Standards and guidance, and the emphasis that work should be done by ‘a professionally competent organisation or consultant’, with IfA is identified as having a Register of professionally accredited organisations.

The phone’s been busier than it has been all week, which is unusual for a Friday. I might need some more coffee….

Kathryn

RCAHMS – Iain Anderson Threatened Building Survey Project Manager

Hello I am Iain Anderson and I am the Threatened Building Survey Project Manager at RCAHMS.

At the moment I am writing up an article for the Architectural Heritage Society Journal which is a comparative study of the recent RCAHMS survey work done at Lochindorb Castle and a much earlier 1982 survey which RCAHMS carried out at Inverlochy Castle in Fort William.

We’d never had the chance to undertake such a detailed survey before, because Lochindorb Castle is on an island in the middle of a loch in the Highlands. Both sites are 13th century enclosure castles built by the same people.

The article is investigating the similaries and the differences between the two sites, how the slightly different forms of courtyard and round tower have changed the way that the castles functioned and what these can show about the importance and sophistication of each castle.

Examples of the recent survey work carried out by RCAHMS at Lochindorb showing the floor plans.

And an example of the earlier survey at Inverlochy Castle.


Post-excavation research and reporting

Hello, my name is Rowena Hart and I work as a Project Officer at GGAT. I am currently undertaking a post-excavation project following a pretty large excavation outside Merthyr in South Wales. We excavated a really important industrial landscape dating to the very beginnings of the industrial period in the area. Excitingly there was also prehistoric archaeology up there too! We were there for about 18 months and so the site archive is huge! We are writing stratigraphic accounts today and undertaking research into the nature of the industrial components of the area especially the ironstone and coal mines. I hope to start sending out the finds to our specialists this afternoon.

trying to catch up

Just remembered today is THE day of archaeology, whoops. The timing was good for me, the date coincides with the last throes of getting the next issue of British Archaeology to press, and I thought I might let you into a few secrets of what goes on behind the scenes. But its a normal day in the editorial office, chaotic and behind, unanswered emails piling up by the hundred, printers wondering where the stuff is and a pigeon throwing soot down the chimney. I suppose that’s what it is really, a typical day in the life of an archaeologist who writes. But maybe later I might be able to say something more interesting. Meanwhile, read Maev Kennedy’s great piece! (Mike Pitts)