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A blog about projects and my academic work

"This may be a digression, but then this account has sought out such digressions ever since the beginning"
Herodotus, The Histories - 4:30.2-4





allthingsaafs:

If you look at the photo above it illustrates a post-mortem fracture. You can determine this easily due to the colour difference on the edge of the fracture where it is a much lighter colour compared to the rest of the skull and the crumbly nature of the cut.
Quick Tips: How can you tell if a fracture is ante, peri or post-mortem?

There is a relatively easy way to see whether a fracture to a skeleton is ante, peri or even post mortem. It is essential to detail and deduce which category a fracture falls into, as this is very important to see whether the fracture had played a part in the person’s death.
To first classify a fracture we need to understand what the different categories mean, some of you will already know these terminology but here’s a quick reminder:
If a fracture is ante-mortem, it means that the fracture was made before death of the persons.
With peri-mortem fractures, it means that the fracture was received at or near the time of death of the persons – so could have been the fatal strike.
Post-mortem fractures are fractures that have been received after death, so during the time from death to the time of recovery. These fractures are usually from excavation processes, dismemberment, or even natural processes (soil, animal and plant activity).
You will be able to determine if a bone fracture was ante-mortem due to there being signs of healing which is shown by cell regrowth and repair. With peri-mortem fractures the person died before the healing started to take place, but the fractures will still contain the biomechanics that are present in ante-mortem fractures (Smith, 2010). Post-mortem breaks tend to shatter compared to peri-mortem breaks which splinter, this is because bones which are in the post-mortem stage tend to be dry and rather brittle (Smith, 2010). Another big indicator of a fracture being post-mortem is the difference in colour.
Click here to read the full post and find out the quick and easy way my applied anthropology lecturer taught me to help distinguish fractures.

Click here to read more archaeological/anthropological quick tips!

allthingsaafs:

If you look at the photo above it illustrates a post-mortem fracture. You can determine this easily due to the colour difference on the edge of the fracture where it is a much lighter colour compared to the rest of the skull and the crumbly nature of the cut.

Quick Tips: How can you tell if a fracture is ante, peri or post-mortem?

There is a relatively easy way to see whether a fracture to a skeleton is ante, peri or even post mortem. It is essential to detail and deduce which category a fracture falls into, as this is very important to see whether the fracture had played a part in the person’s death.

To first classify a fracture we need to understand what the different categories mean, some of you will already know these terminology but here’s a quick reminder:

  • If a fracture is ante-mortem, it means that the fracture was made before death of the persons.
  • With peri-mortem fractures, it means that the fracture was received at or near the time of death of the persons – so could have been the fatal strike.
  • Post-mortem fractures are fractures that have been received after death, so during the time from death to the time of recovery. These fractures are usually from excavation processes, dismemberment, or even natural processes (soil, animal and plant activity).

You will be able to determine if a bone fracture was ante-mortem due to there being signs of healing which is shown by cell regrowth and repair. With peri-mortem fractures the person died before the healing started to take place, but the fractures will still contain the biomechanics that are present in ante-mortem fractures (Smith, 2010). Post-mortem breaks tend to shatter compared to peri-mortem breaks which splinter, this is because bones which are in the post-mortem stage tend to be dry and rather brittle (Smith, 2010). Another big indicator of a fracture being post-mortem is the difference in colour.

Click here to read the full post and find out the quick and easy way my applied anthropology lecturer taught me to help distinguish fractures.

Click here to read more archaeological/anthropological quick tips!





It would seem that some reliable sources are reporting Mick Aston has passed away. This is dreadfully awful news; It wasn’t long ago I was sat across from him in our departments Common Room giving advice for someones research project.
It is dreadfully sad when someone who’s advice and knowledge was so valuable and so appreciated passes away. And my, and many others, condolences go out to the family and close friends

It would seem that some reliable sources are reporting Mick Aston has passed away. This is dreadfully awful news; It wasn’t long ago I was sat across from him in our departments Common Room giving advice for someones research project.

It is dreadfully sad when someone who’s advice and knowledge was so valuable and so appreciated passes away. And my, and many others, condolences go out to the family and close friends





An Archaeologist’s Thoughts on Ephesus 2:35 pm       12 notes

myofficeisagrave:

During my recent adventures in Anatolia (Turkey) I had the pleasure of visiting Ephesus. It’s the location of the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) and one of the Eastern Roman Empire’s most populous and important cities. However I didn’t know just how much of it still remains. I’ve always been fascinated by the Romans, so I haggled (badly) with a taxi driver to take my long suffering other half and I there. Now if you are fortunate enough to visit Ephesus yourself I shall give you some professional advice: don’t believe everything you see. My lecturers always said that presumption was the capital sin of archaeology and that you should question everything. And it certainly did not take me long to start questioning much of what Ephesus presented me with, But good points first…
image
Ephesus is stunningly beautiful. There are a number of huge buildings that are startling in both their engineering and aesthetic. Ephesus was once a truly beautiful place, and the city centre is a testament to what the ancient world could achieve. Also Ephesus is presented in such a way that it is almost impossible to get lost, which is useful when you don’t speak the language. You are guided along a linear path that will take you past all the most impressive structures. The final and possible best point is the large number of stray cats wandering around. Nothing like cats for distracting the other people you forced to go with you.
image
Now for things that disappointed me… Firstly it will not take you long to realise most of the buildings you see have been reconstructed. This probably will not surprise you but in the naivety brought on by my excitement it had not occurred to me. In all honesty, I would not have minded except many of the buildings were not competently rebuilt. I couldn’t help but feel a little offended by the widespread use of concrete. Also in many places I could see stones that had been put back in the wrong places, including pieces of column used horizontally in walls and bits of decorated stone in places that made no sense. All in all it felt tampered with and sadly a little fake. Also only about 15% of the city has been excavated! In many places you can see boarded up tunnels disappearing into the hill sides and bits of building sticking out of the ground. The whole place gave me the strongest urge to explore but then left it very unfulfilled. 
image
All in all Ephesus is well worth a visit, however I feel the less attention you pay to detail, the better impression you will have. Despite this, it is almost impossible not to be awed by something of such great antiquity. But I think maybe the site could use a more modern approach to presentation and certainly further excavation. 
I would love to hear what others who have been thought, or just if you think I’m being too critical!





Excuses. 3:02 pm       1 note

Thursday of the Berkeley Days Diaries was going to be merged with Friday because literally nothing happened on Thursday but troweling and some brief mattocking. 

One problem. I had to catch a train as soon after I got back, revise on train, arrive at destination, sleep, attend wedding, meet friend, revise, sleep, revise, come home, sleep, revise, and now here I am. 

Naturally I had no excusable time post anything, and sadly this is not likely to happen till tomorrow. So. I have left you, dear followers, with the flying penis monster. Because I consider that a good repayment for the delay. 





ragbag:

discardingimages:

flying penis monster 
Decretum Gratiani with the commentary of Bartolomeo da Brescia, Italy 1340-1345.
Lyon, BM, Ms 5128, fol. 100r

flying penis monster auto-reblog enabled.

This needed to fly by here.

ragbag:

discardingimages:

flying penis monster 

Decretum Gratiani with the commentary of Bartolomeo da Brescia, Italy 1340-1345.

Lyon, BM, Ms 5128, fol. 100r

flying penis monster auto-reblog enabled.

This needed to fly by here.





Berkeley, Day 7: Archaeology Today 11:22 pm       2 notes

“Slag and pot!? What kind of brothel is this!?”

– Archaeodetectorist Kev

Dennice there’s some lovely filth down here!

image

So we arrived at the trench, and it was quite literally a landscaped pond. The fact we got where we were was rather incredible.
After sponging and bucketing the water out, trying to avoid any slippages on what once was lawn, there was troweling. Basically that is all we did, and the reason why is because we really needed to see the whole trench cleaned for basically the first time in its almost entirety. The last eastern strip still needs to be done (ignored again), but luckily it shouldn’t rain too much tonight.

image


Coincidentally this trawling revealed some rather lovely hints about features. The odd corner/feature/beam-slot thing has really come out clearly; I must note however that I made a rather large mistake and slightly troweled into the feature since both the top soil and the fill are the same colour. This seems, according to Emily (during her theory throwing match at the end of the day), to be cutting into the ditch, suggesting it to be later… I think? With a pit dug into the ditch and through one of the lengths of the corner/feature/beam-slot thing with the large sone put on top.
One thing Phil pointed out is that it is rather a large beam slot (I replied it could just be a big beam) and that it could be an enclosed outdoor space since the interior ‘floor’ is the same colour and consistency as the soil across the trench.
The other, possibly most surprising thing, is a very slight hint at a prehistoric feature. Yes. That is right. We have had Edwardian, Victorian, 1600s-1700s garden features, Civil war, Saxon, Norman, Viking, Roman, and now possibly prehistoric things in our small trench. Beat that Paddock!
Now it isn’t based upon a round faint smear in the ground that this hypothesis has been put forward, but the flint we have found close to the crimson horror too. Last Thursday a ‘thumb scraper’ was found, I found a small micro-blade (a bloomin’ sharp one too!), and what looked like from across the trench a worked nodual of flint. Im afraid Im no flint expert; I just hit it with rocks and make useful stuff out of it.
Anyway. That was the trench report for today!

Photography

So one of my ranging poles disappeared! Well. Till after lunch when Phil managed to unscrew the 2 meter poles he had made using one of them. I had assumed they were something brought from the department, but no, they had used one of mine. Anyway. Now I have four…
I have to say I do prefer doing the ‘working shots’ because I am half unsure about what I’m doing when taking archive shots. The basic camera I use is bloody good for that, I just end up with rather blurry temperamental shorts with my SLR with all this rain and overcast. It’s not something I wasn’t expecting, the big expensive cameras with all their equipment aren’t always the best thing.
Mind you. If they gave me a large format camera I would be happy as Larry!

PS
I recently noticed that I can’t count the dig day number right…





Remember how I said the first years ended up in the mud after we uppers had finished… and I ended up standing with tea… well this is scarily close to what actually happened…

Dennice’ there’s some lovely filth down here!

Ht to Paul Tubb the Eminent for making this incredibly apt comparison.

10:39 pm       2 notes





Injury Addendum – Tea and Sympathy: 10:06 pm

I thought it might be slightly amusing to note that as soon as Rachael, our injured fellow from yesterday, got out of the trench post-injury she was offered tea. But not from just one person, but at least three people.

You can tell this is a dig in England; working through torrential rain and plenty of tea.





Berkeley, Day 6: Quasi-Supernormal-Incremental-Precipitation-Inducer 10:13 pm       2 notes

Rain.

Well there you have it. That was the consistent.

The Paddock was called off, and eventually the test pits were too. Here in the Jenner however, we work on. 

Mattocking Back:

image

The rear of the trench right before we started.

So yes, we mattocked right back (with some more first years and a few second & third years from the test pits). Eventually we got reasonably to the level. More stone appeared, and the second piece of tile would suggest further a destruction layer. 

Little to no slag appeared, but bone and nails are on the up. A badly corroded bit of a horse shoe was a cool find by myself. It was quite small, so it was of the time-range we are looking at. 

That is about as much as there is to say about the actual archaeology. We did some trowling later on but this ended up with every non-first year standing at the others doing the work. We did have too many people and too little be able to do by the end of the day. It was horrendous on the last day last year, but at least then we mattocked right through the day. 

image

And…the obvious difference…

Archaeodetectorists & Mark Horton:

I managed to become good friends with Phill and Kev our Archaeodetectorists, purely because I used a flint tool to peel my orange. After that we had a long discussion about the problems with metaldetecotrists and general hobbyists. There is a big difference between the two. Being who I am I like to thing that thanks to PAS there are not so many ‘gold diggers’, but its still a bad thing. 

Mark Horton was another topic. My Archaeology A-Level teacher was not greatly fond of him, mind you he only really knew him from Time Team and Coast. It turns out he is actually a ‘damn fine fellow’. 

Managing:

I think it has been interesting to have first years in the trench. I try not too, but end up, supervising their work. This is all non-firstyears, but I still feel its us supervising them instead of a big team as I would like. But then again it was like this last year with me, and it is just trying to smooth out the literal kinks in their ability. The weather does not help.

Its surprising that on the first day back here I managed to mattock and scrtattock almost perfectly after my patchy performance last year. Same thing with trowling, nice speed and liftage. Yet, despite all that, I feel it is terrible that there is only a year and one dig between them and me. I just end up interfering. 

This is, however, limited to only a few. Frankly there are some who have done incredibly well. Maybe my trepidation’s are just having new people to the Jenner! 

The Jenner Set; And The Black Bird:

I think the veterans (since the trench has more than once been described as the Somme) of Jenner have to form a set. Our emblem shall be a blackbird holding a bit of slag. The latin phrase has yet to be decided, however "It never rains, but it pours" could be a contender. 

the blackbird, by the way, is an homage to the bird that keeps hopping into our trench and snatching up the worms. Its gotten quite used to us too. It also proved that the water in the trench is getting quite bad as it has started to wash in it. It could also be a nice nudge at the fact our Archaeodetectorists, Kev, has only ever found our good finds!

There isnt an official name, but ‘Slaggius Maximus’ (~ Roman layer and…slag…) and ‘Reginald’ are both contenders. 

Anyway. Till tomorrow.





Berkeley, Day 5: The Crimson Horror Returns 10:15 pm       1 note

No photos for today, we had to get back to that red layer again before it rains again tomorrow and I was too focused to take time off. The day also sped by.

Firstly we had first-years. We were low on people because two were ill and one had betrayed us and joined the geophysical team. Emily must have grabbed the best ones, as frankly they were pretty good (I mean a little slow, but good). It was nice having someone to take away the spoil! 

Anywoo, less slag, more pottery coming out in concentrated areas, burnt bone was found. We have gone and levelled half the trench right down a good 10cm and troweled from the front to that ‘baulk’. Since it is going to rain Emily thought it wold be best to do half, trowel, and find the features in more appropriate weather so we can see them. The second half of mattocking can be done in the rain, and going by the forecast it will take us all day. 

I am a bit annoyed I didn’t take a photograph as it was very bright and very clear what was what. If (and I do hope it is so) it does not rain tonight, that will be the first thing I shall do. The ditch, was clear, the red was very clear, the stony patch and an accompanying dark layer appeared with a corner, and three large dark patches appeared. two appear to be big post holes (just big round blobs towards the far north of the trench) and a big one at the south of the trench being cut in half by the edge of our trench. 

Im afraid that is all I have to report. Today was very much a day of solid work. 





Well… That is quite a lot of the trench still stuck to my knee pads…

Well… That is quite a lot of the trench still stuck to my knee pads…





Berkeley, Day 4: Et In Arcadia Ergo 10:29 pm       1 note

image

The Jenner Gardens. © Birkett 2013: all rights reserved until further notice. 

So I took a few days off for revision and re-couperation. Sorry about that, Friday was my last day before I must start revising, and saturday was spend doing that. Anyway, back to Berkeley

Jenner Gardens

image

The Jenner Gardens. © Birkett 2013: all rights reserved until further notice. 

So first things first me and a friend got a lift in the Land Rover which was pretty nice of Emily our sup.! The rest of the morning was spent mattoking back the layers as Emily had decided it was probably best to just uncover as much as we can on this layer that is likely still just 1635.

Photography

I was then, for some time, put on hold to take another photo of the house with the hearth in the Paddock. I ended up waiting for them to finish troweling back the layer, filling the time with photographs of the Jenner Gardens.

I think I have decided I can put them on here, but with full copyright to myself (as proxy to © Berkeley Social Media 2013) as these are taken by me, using my equipment, but on behalf of Stuart, Emily (in this case) and the Berkeley Dig. 

Et In Arcadia Ergo

image

The Jenner Gardens. © Birkett 2013: all rights reserved until further notice. 

Eventually I went over, and helped them speed up the troweling, took a photo, then was immediately called over to one of the test pits (having to run right round the long way to avoid using the Church Yard (that is the only thoroughfare) because of a wedding that was going on. They were at the natural level, but were about to start a sondarge to see if anything was below the natural. Later in the day I would be called back because they did find something that tied in with the features that they were looking for/expecting to find in the area. 

Back To The Jenner

image

The Jenner Gardens. © Birkett 2013: all rights reserved until further notice. 

The rest of the day, between the continuous droning bells from the wedding that had everyone sure not to have them at theirs, was spend completely levelling the Jenner Gardens. The layers had been redy-brown soil, black streak, stony-feature-thing, pea grit and moratory bit, all with less redy-brown soil and rising up by at least a few cm per feature. Emily decided to take all this down to the redy-brown hight meaning lots of mattocking by half of the team. We found less slag today (5 bags), and lots of burnt bone with some bits of Mortarium. Its defiantly Roman, which is nice.

The other half spent their time excavating a feature that proved without-a-doubt to be a hedge ditch for the old Jenner Gardens. That end of the trench had always been the most neglected and had the most recent archaeology. But anyway, its nice to see a big feature back in the trench. Things are really getting underway!

Although I did leave my coat there…





Berkeley, Day 3: Ad Infinitum 10:46 pm       1 note

The Trench.

So it had rained in the night, making the trench look a bit grubby. It also made seeing the soil colour a bit hard.

This was not helped when we suddenly came across lots of what can only be described as features. Instead of nice orangey-red clay we eventually got a thin faint dark infill, then a ditchy bit in the middle with a gradual pea-grity area and at the far edge of the trench a confusing bit that is… just… suff (I wasn’t over on that side), and then on the opposite site we got another wall-like-stony-thing behind the ditchy bit.

image

Ill always list features from where the wheelbarrow is to the foreground (North to South). Sorry it’s out of focus; it was cold. 

We didn’t get ver far unfortunately, the sudden features sort of took us by surprise. But then again we had no idea what was going to be on this side of the ditch. The eventual rain didn’t help, and by the end of the day we had only cleared about a metre and a bit back (to the wall-like-stony-thing) from where we were yesterday. Towards the end we came back to a very thin streak of yellow sandy mortar stuff with pea-grit. 

Stuart says its probably a wooden walled (the dark ditchy bit) nunnery stone bits, or a wooden building standing on stone bace. Our Sup. didnt quite seem convinced, and neither am I really. But ‘wall’ isn’t greatly far of what we have I will admit. 

Rain.

Anyway. By the end of it, the rain had, by Stuarts standards, meant we were likely to be harming the archaeology. Emily (our usual Sup.) probably would have had us carrying on, but she wasn’t there. I was quite happy to carry on, but the paddock were having problems too, so we ground to a halt about an hour before we usually leave. Cunningly I was grabbing a lift. So that was nice, very very very nice. In fact you could even go so far as to say bloody marvellous. 

More Slag and Bone.

image

So it was the first day with my camera at the site, I only took a few shots, mostly for the Berkeley dig, so I wont be sharing those. I think I can get away with this one.

 We got through 11 bags of slag today… on-top of 4/5 from the previous two days…but other than that we have found lots of black pottery, some with nice detailing (oh and a ‘mesolithic thumb scarper’). Burnt animal-bone was coming up a lot too. 

image

© Berkeley Castle Archaeological Project 2013; Bristol Dig Berkeley's find of the day.

Talking of finds, this lovely thing came up. Sharn, Sup. of the big trench where it was found (the Paddock), and our finds expert Phil (who taught me the small finds for the Jenner last year) showed us it. It’s about 10mm thick on one end, and 5mm on the other (it slopes). Since it’s a knee cap we joked it was a victim of a Lord Berkeley who butchered his vanquished enemies to use as parts of his gaming pieces. 

Also, the paddock is progressing with the now Norman stone built house. Im sure official details will be released as soon as they have a lot more to say.

As Always…

Check out the blogs for more information. And of course, all views are my own, and my own alone!





digberkeley:

Work has begun at the University of Bristol’s annual excavations in the town of Berkeley. This mainly involved cleaning the trenches that have been open during the year but the digging will start soon!

For more information see:

http://bristoldigberkeley.blogspot.co.uk

http://facebook.com/digberkeley

http://twitter.com/digberkeley

The lower one, in that lovely shade, is Jenner. You can see a slow progression from this, to what I pictured in my last post. Where one of is is pointing is where the wall-like-stony-thing is.

Anyway! This is the Berkeley blog. Give it a follow too, you’ll get some good ‘action shots’ and a much broader slice of the whole dig.





Berkeley, Day 2: Slag and Photography. 9:42 pm       2 notes

Slag & Ditch

That would be a two word summery of today (and a bit of rain). Literally every trowel scrape, every mattock sweep, every time you even began to comprehend a nobly shiny lump was slag you would find another. So far about 4/5 bags have been filled from just this context (1635)†. There had been a few lumps from (1634) that probably were just residual (i.e. had moved upwards from a deeper layer). 

Anyway, after a few thousand lumps of Slag (and a bit of flux) we hit a very obvious orangey-red layer with, right where it was meant to be, a darker streak delineating a filled in ditch. Right now we are in the process of delicately peeling away the darker layer (1635) away from our next Romanyish layer. Precisely what we set out to find last year!

It looks like things are about to get a bit more interesting!

image

I would have put some more photos of the trench in, but I missed the chance to get one at the end of the day (it was also raining). This ‘mid-progress’ shots were a bit bland and are literally just 1635. But there is a nice wall-like-stony-thing on the mid left, and a big stone on the right. This is where the ditch is coming in diagonally.

† 1635 = Trench 16; Layer 35 [bigger number = deeper ~ older you are)

Photographer

Well, Stuart appointed me as ‘archival’ photographer, essentially the person who records through photos each layers and main features being taken away. These are done in conjunction to the drawings, and never as a replacement of drawings. This is because a photograph will never quite get the right sizes and distort, or will not clearly represent what is actually there.

Anyway, that is aside the point. This, and ‘special’ photographer of ‘interesting things’ that are yet to me pointed out to me by stuart, along with the excavating that I do oh-so-love.

Honestly? What is better than spending time in the fresh air and uncovering a lost landscape beneath your feet that once was just as ‘normal’ and benal as the ground we experience today.

I did feel a little torn when I was anointed with my new tools, I didn’t quite want to be taken away from the dust and the dirt (it’s family thing, explain that another time). But actually I get to skip around the site and see everything that is going on. Honestly, Archaeologists are pretty cool. We work in pretty horrible conditions to do very methodical and precise work and yet still manage to be happy and jolly. Its probably the rain getting to the brain… 

A final note…

As always, all views are entirely mine. But! If you do have any questions about the dig in general, my ask box is always open. If anything is a bit too specific and I feel its not something I can just answer I will pass you onto our ever busy and eager media team! The official voice of the Berkeley Dig!





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