The MoLAS Manual

Over the summer, a fellow excavator recommended that I pick up a copy of the Museum of London Archaeological Services manual to help me make sense of British idiosyncrasies in excavation. When I asked to purchase it from the good people at the Museum of London, they directed me to a free download source where I could grab the 1994 version while they are reprinting the 2002 version. Here it is, if you’d like a copy:

The MoLAS Manual

Some of the fun bits discuss recording timber and brick coursing, and I was practically purring over mortar style names and carpentry details. So much more fun than Saussure! I can only imagine how it would be to work in a place like London–start to be able to identify different building material sources, to see Roman/Medieval/Modern all reused to rebuild parts of the city. Sears & Roebuck page-turning just isn’t the same.

For example:

Niedermendig Lava, Mayen Lava: Extremely hard, porous, grey-black basaltic lava. Imported as quernstones from the Eifel mountains in the Rhineland, sometimes found reused as a building material.”

In the States we’re pretty excited if we get obsidian tools we can source from a particular region–and sourcing chert is generally out of the question.  Now I want someone to show me around London so I can ask a bunch of annoying questions about materials and construction methods.

While there is a certain amount of grass-is-greener going on here, I try not to go too far. I find it pretty obnoxious when people go on about the horrors of New/Old World archaeology, especially when they haven’t even tried the other.  Though I have to say, being back here it is such a relief to not be yelled at for “incorrect terminology”.

Tangentally, I ran into one of my more favorite professors yesterday and she gleefully described to me how the Swiss used to cut military deserters in half.  What would we do without historical archaeology/archaeologists?

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

2 thoughts on “The MoLAS Manual”

  1. During my trip to Hamburg, I bought a cool book, Dietrich Conrad, Kirchenbau im Mittelalter (Church Construction in the Middle Ages), Edition Leipzig (1990). The book, written by an architect in collaboration with a professor for architecture from a German technical university, tries to reconstruct Medieval church construction under the triple constraints of artistic vision, technical capabilities and socio-economic possibilities.

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