WAC – The Big Day


It’s finally arrived, the day of my session from way back when.  I had to butcher my paper down to almost nothing in the interest of time, as we’re overbooked, but it should be okay.  I’ll be busy enough trying to keep things running smoothly.


I also have another presentation on the same day in a different session, so I’ll be a busy girl.  After this I will be able to enjoy the conference a bit more.  I’ve already met one of my fellow bloggers, Kenny Atchison, and was very happy to see another person with whom I’d only interacted digitally in the flesh.

On a terribly sad note, one of my session participants will not be joining us.  He was posted in South Africa, but had family in Zimbabwe, some of whom had become victims of political violence.  My thoughts go out to him and his family.  Words don’t really do the situation justice.



There’s a giant butterscotch cat sitting on my lap as I peck away at the keyboard, one hand kept behind his battle-scarred ears–he’s a lover and a fighter–his claws digging into my thigh each time I stop petting. Beast.  It’s okay though, he and the peat fire are keeping me warm in a drafty, weird, rambling hostel that was converted from a monastery and is now filled with miscellaneous stuffed chairs, art, junk, and young French backpackers.  Tomorrow will be one week since I’ve left, and in that time I’ve made it about 3/4 of the way around the coast of Ireland.


One of my favorite days was spent in Belfast, taking in the murals generated by the conflicts between the Protestants and Catholics.  I don’t really see Ireland as my home country and when people ask me if I’m here to trace my genealogy (the first thing they do after they hear my name), I just smile and shrug.  But seeing the murals was sad and powerful and frustrating in a way that felt strangely close to home.  It could be that it was seeing my family names all over the tombstones and memorials that was upsetting, but I think what really caught me was the ever-present government housing in the major conflict areas and the futility of it all.


I managed to chase a lot of that away while scrambling over the amazing geometrical basalt formations at the Giant’s Causeway.  The hexagonal columns seem to break away from the black cliffs surrounding them and march into the sea.  The waves crash around them and form little pools where huge, hair-like strands of seaweed wind around the angular rocks.  It was all I could do to keep myself from chipping the basalt–it makes lovely bifaces in the right hands.


It’s hard to recap during trips; a lot of my time has been spent wandering around small country lanes in the rain, checking out obscure ruins, and talking with random people over pints of Smithix in pubs, but that doesn’t translate well to a travel narrative.  Over my laptop I can see that the sun is just now going down over the little tangle of green and trees outside the window–strange to be so far north.  The cat in my lap is so solidly asleep that he’s no longer purring and I’ve got a nice little mountain to climb tomorrow, so it’s probably time to finish this up and wander away to my bunk.  ‘Night.

Lightwriting at Stonehenge

I’m in Austin for a brief weekend to attend a wedding and recharge my sorely depleted reserves.  I die a little bit each time I leave Texas, but that’s for a different kind of blog entry in a different kind of blog.  Anyway, the wedding was at a country club near Georgetown, and it was nice and dark out there, with fireflies flitting in and out of the gnarled live oak branches.  Never mind the ridiculous green grass lawn in a countryside that was never meant for more than parched scrub and weathered limestone.  I was waiting out the festivities and picked up a National Geographic, where I was struck by this image:

Faithful readers may remember my desire to experiment with lightwriting, here:


It’s nice to see that I’m in good company!

Now it’s time to go to my favorite swimmin’ hole in the whole wide world, Hamilton Pool:

Wish you were here!

Presidio Miscellany

Cinzia, one of my fellow instructors for the Remixing El Presidio class, did a fun 3D model of the Presidio with Sketchup and Google Earth.  You can check it out here.

I’ve always found instructing rewarding, but this is a particularly fun class with great students who are really motivated.  It’s one of those rare instances where the students have started to take over the class and teach themselves and each other.  I’m excited to see the end results!


I also had the chance to tour Lucasfilm yesterday.  I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, which was tragic, but I did get a photo of my pass.  I didn’t manage to retrieve the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant, but I did see the tiny robots from batteries not included, and squealed with delight–something I promised myself I wouldn’t do.  I guess the 9 year old in me took over.

In other news, I’m hosting a World Archaeological Congress social networking night during the conference in Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday night at The Duke.  If you’re attending WAC this year, I hope to meet you!


One last note!  I haven’t had time to check out the new iphone G3 release, but apparently I have to get one, and not only for the added GPS:


Lego Archaeology Field Report

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 2.23.00 PM

The south-facing wall and return are both of medieval origin and were repaired in the mid-1800s with undifferentiated gray and red bricks and concrete mortar.  This repair had been heavily degraded by the elements, and later repaired once again with a series of tiny (1cm x 3cm) multicolored plastic blocks.  The overall feature is 1.3m high and 0.3m wide, bolstering 12 courses of brick.  These small blocks were not structually viable for additional wall support, but may have served as protection from further degredation of the original mortar.


However, as conventional mortar was available at the estimated time of repair, it is suggested that these blocks represent a decorative element later appended to the structure.  The blocks are predominantly blue, perhaps representing a color preference, morphological convenience, or simply an abundance of that material.  Additional information regarding its internal structure will become apparent during the excavation of this feature.

(edited in 2014, as the original links to images were broken. Sadly the text no longer reflects the images)


Embedded Interpretation pt. II


I posted on the Presidio class blog about how to construct your own memory map/interpretation. It works on the One Laptop Per Child laptops as well!

Here’s the link:


PS: If anyone can help me debug Mbedr, it would be much appreciated.

Embedded Interpretation

So, once upon a time, a naive undergraduate from the University of Texas applied for graduate school in archaeology.  She sent out a statement of purpose that boiled down to: “I want to be able to embed archaeological information in the landscape, and I want other people to be able to add to that information…on my cellphone.”

Three years later, that’s what I did.  There’s several ways to do this, and this is obviously a kludge, but it’s a start.  I’ll probably load the full documentation up to the Presidio field blog later tonight.

Egypt Lantern Slides

The Brooklyn Museum has been uploading their lantern slide collection in high resolution to flickr; the latest batch is from Egypt, taken in 1900.

I have no particular obsession with Egyptology, but these photos are gorgeous.  Kudos to the Brooklyn Museum for sharing them.

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