15 Questions with an Archaeologist

Joshua Guerrero (York Master’s alum!) was kind enough to ask me to appear on his podcast, 15 Questions with an Archaeologist. The episode is out and he asked me questions such as:

If money were no object what type of archaeology would you do?

Please tell us about some of the most interesting sites you have ever worked on.

How do you feel about Indiana Jones?

To hear what I answered, check it out:


Podcast: Cooking With Archaeologists

Tamsin & I in the field last March.

Dan, Tamsin and I went on the Cooking With Archaeologists podcast to chat about digital archaeology, research in Qatar and the Arabian Gulf and life in the field. It was lovely to speak to Colin and we contributed our super secret recipes for kebabs & a bonus recipe for baba ganoush:

Lamb Shish Kebab

Diced lamb
Onions finely diced
Chilli powder
Aleppo pepper or Urfa Biber (smoked Turkish pepper)
Smoked paprika
Ground black pepper
Ground cumin
A few drops of lemon juice

Marinade for at least 6 hours and then put onto skewers

Light a BBQ with good lump-wood charcoal and let it get good and hot

Baba ganoush

Place the aubergines in the hot coals and let them burn until blackened and cooked through.
Scoop out the roasted aubergine, mash with a fork and add a crushed garlic clove, olive oil and salt.

Skewer up your lamb and cook over hot coals until it is just a little pink. Serve with flat bread and garlic labneh (or Greek yogurt)

Podcasts of Note

Visualising Radio Pop - Tristan Ferne
Visualising Radio Pop – Tristan Ferne

As my bitter rivals in the Archaeologists’ fitbit group (join us!) can attest, I usually walk a few miles a day. While I listen to a lot of music while I write, I let podcasts transport me across the landscape. They’re my television, I suppose. Back in 2010 I recommended a couple of Archaeology Podcasts, and the field has grown considerably since then, but I draw interest and inspiration from other topics.

So, my favorites:

New Yorker: Fiction – These are authors who have published in the New Yorker discussing the short stories of other authors. There is a long prelude and sometimes a long discussion afterwards that talk about the author’s life and the meaning of the story. These can sometimes grate, sadly. Still, I love reading the short stories in the New Yorker and the podcasts are a welcome jolt of incredibly good writing. They’re only uploaded once a month though, so I try to save it for a time when I can listen to it straight through on longer walks & bus rides.

AnthroPod – A newish podcast from the Society for Cultural Anthropologists with very pithy, involved conversations between anthropologists about their research. Particular favorite was John Hartigan on Race, Genomics, and Biology and Michael Fisch on Tokyo Commuter Train Suicides.

Thinking Allowed – A slightly quirky sociology podcast with Laurie Taylor that explores current research articles, generally bringing in the authors of the publications. Can be overly folksy and pseudo-populist, but I like the update about what is going on in one of our sister-disciplines.

This American Life – Yes, I am a member of the cult-like following of this show. For non-Americans, it has a lot of stories that are not necessarily American-specific. If I could only listen to one podcast, this would be it. Good thing there are over 500 episodes.

Radiolab – A broadly-conceived science podcast that follows interesting stories with odd resonance. They also do a lot of overtly reflexive audio editing, which you don’t see very often–compare with Jai Paul’s str8 outta mumbai. They broadcast a mix of in-depth hour-long podcasts with 20-30 minute “shorts” that can be less formal.

Fun stuff:

Escape Pod – Speculative fiction short stories of all stripes–so much so that sometimes they get complaints that the story isn’t actually Science Fiction. One example is The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, a lovely story steeped in Chinese culture about origami that comes to life. I’m often jealous of the stories, able to describe human interaction and possible realities better than any archaeologist or anthropologist I’ve ever read.

PodCastle – A companion podcast to Escape Pod that I only recently started listening to. The quality, to my ears, is a little bit mixed, but I enjoyed The Calendar of Saints, which is an incense-laden homage to Catholicism and a lady with a sword.

Friday Night Comedy – Dan and I like listening to this political comedy show while we’re cooking dinner. It is, in my opinion, a pale shadow of The Daily Show, but keeps me relatively up-to-date with British politics. May be slightly indecipherable if you don’t live in the UK.

Honorable mentions:

These are podcasts that I’ve downloaded with the intention of listening to them, but haven’t quite gotten to them, or have only listened to a couple of episodes: Welcome to Night Vale, On the Media, Material World, The Heritage Podcast, and From Our Own Correspondent.

A Mild Retraction – BBC’s 100 Objects

Over the weekend I was listening to more of the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects and I feel that I have to take back some of my enthusiasm for the series.  The broad generalizations that the host makes about the artifacts and the conclusions drawn about modern and ancient humans are vapid and irresponsible in many cases.

The show is very much a propaganda piece for the British Museum–“oh, history is universal, human experience is universal”–not terribly surprising from a museum that is trying to hold onto their colonial spoils.

Besides all of that, the show can be deeply uninteresting and misses a lot of opportunities to talk about the context of the object–the materials involved, the excavation/accessioning process, etc.

I’ll listen to a few more before unsubscribing from the podcast altogether; I’m at 9 out of 100 objects, so a 10% sample may not be representative.

Anyone else have a listen and form an opinion?

Archaeology Podcasts

Since I’ve moved I’ve never bothered to get internet at home, nor do I have a television or for that matter, a home phone.  This has helped tremendously with dissertation reading and writing, but has cut down significantly on my time to answer student emails, blog, build things on Second Life, etc.  So it should probably go as I enter my twilight years of graduate school and get ready to start applying for jobs.  I’ve compensated for my lack of home internet access in several ways, including downloading podcasts at school so I have something to listen to while I cook dinner and do the dishes. (Full disclosure: I also have a first generation iphone, so I’m not entirely offline, but am unlikely to respond to emails or browse while using it.)

The state of podcasting has changed since I last paid any attention to it several years ago.  There are now several archaeology-related podcasts, and two in particular that I quite like.

The Naked Archaeologist – I must admit to having a bit of bias for liking this podcast as it features my friend Thomas Birch as the “backyard archaeologist.” His interview with Adolf Fridriksson about predictive modeling of the location of viking graves is excellent listening.

BBC’s A History of the World in 100 Objects – As I was mentioning to a friend earlier, I don’t really like the BBC’s websites, as they frequently make my web browser crash.  Good thing I usually grab podcasts through iTunes, though I have some problems with that particular piece of software as well.  Anyway, this podcast is a wonderful series that features a particular object, then links that object to its context within the world.  Sometimes it can be a little overreaching, such as the latest podcast featuring Ken Den’s Sandal Label as an example of a model of power in ancient Egypt that “resonates uncannily throughout the world today.”


Okay, so I might still be a little stuck on shoes.

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