Originally posted on Middle Savagery:
I understand the temptation. You want to show the mundane, you feel that there is too much Hollywood glamor attached to the profession. So you begin your article, or your Introduction to Archaeology course, or public lecture with some variation of the following:
I know you all think that archaeology is all whips and snakes, Indiana Jones, and Lara Croft, but it is actually a set of methods that can involve long, boring episodes in the lab, counting things, and general tedium.
STOP. Stop this now. Take it out of your lexicon. Not only is it one of the most lazy, overused introduction strategies, but it actively works against the profession and is terribly bad form in science education.
Originally posted on Bronze Age burials in northern England:
During some collaborative work I’ve been asked to convert radiocarbon dates from BP into BC using OxCal, it’s pretty simple so I thought I’d write a little how to. This is useful if you are wanting to compare different dates from the literature but you only have the BP values.
Firstly, It’s best to use the online version of OxCal at https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk there is also a download version but I’ve found it to be a bit blippy!
The program will ask for you to create a username and password. Once you have done this and can access the program you should get a screen which looks like this.
Originally posted on ThorNews:
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway 1067–1093 AD. Extensive archaeological investigation of the site has revealed no evidence for a Norse settlement.
Leif Ericson (about 970 – 1020 AD) is regarded as the first European to land in North America. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement in Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. The sagas also tell that Leif Ericson’s discovery was followed by other expeditions and that the Vikings met Indians whom they called “Skraelinger”. It is not unlikely that the Vikings brought silver coins as trade items.
“Anthropology is the most humanistic of the sciences and the most scientific of the humanities.”
- Alfred L. Kroeber
Some Good Advice for Graduate Students From Psychology Today Online:
Five Truths About Graduate School That Nobody Tells You
There are some crucial things to know about graduate school that are not typically discussed out in the open, but that could make all the difference for you (or for your graduate students). It ultimately boils down to this: the ultimate key to graduate school is transitioning from a “student” mentality to a “professional” mentality. Having published 23 articles in research journals before graduating, I think I successfully made this change of mindset and I can help you to do so as well. Here are five important truths to assist you in making this transition:
Truth #1: Graduate School is Not School at All, but an Apprenticeship.
The term “school” makes you think that the most important aspect of this experience is class and that you are a student who must do well in the class. However, your goal is not to get straight A’s, but to learn to become a productive, independent researcher. A more fitting term for graduate school would be “professorial apprenticeship.” The apprenticeship system was first developed in the later Middle Ages to help novice tradesman to learn a skilled vocation (such as carpentry) from a master teacher. This is the true purpose of graduate school, to learn the trade (publishing) by doing the trade, not by simply reading about it and talking about it in classes. If you were the manager of a large furniture manufacturer looking to hire someone, would you be more interested in applicants who had read a lot about building furniture, knew all the theory behind it, etc., or would you like to hire someone who had already built several pieces under the hands of a master teacher?
Truth #2: Your Career Starts on Your First Day of Graduate School
People with the “student” mentality think that their career begins when they get the coveted tenure-track position and they procrastinate seriously doing the research job that they’ve been hired to do. Those with the “professional” mentality recognize that everything they do as a graduate student counts towards their overall record and they begin to work on publications immediately. They show up every day ready to work on their job of publishing rather than spending most of their time preparing for their enhancement workshops (class). They know what the priority is and their time allocation reflects this. An important facet of this recognition is to not be limited by the clock. Those with the “student” mentality work until their assigned 10 or 20 research assistantship hours are complete, whereas those with the “professional” mentality know that any additional time they spend on this core task will be “counted” toward getting a job and future advancement and so they do not limit themselves to time for which they are being paid. I often put in 2-3 times the hours that I was paid for and believe me it paid off. Think of yourself not as a student logging in some hours, but as a salaried professional working toward a promotion!
Truth #3: Grades Don’t Really Matter
As an undergraduate, I was a grade grubber. I would study long hours and then show up to office hours to demonstrate to the professor why my answer on the test should get partial credit so that I could get an A rather than an A-. That was important back then, but it sure isn’t in graduate school. This was so clear to me as I applied for a jobs at over 70 universities. How many asked me for my transcripts? One. Don’t just take my word for it. In “A Guide to Ph.D. Graduate School: How They Keep Score in the Big Leagues,” Charles Lord (2004) writes the following:
Since I have been in my department, we have hired more than half the current faculty. I have been intensively involved in all of these searches, both during the time I was department chair and later. Would it surprise you to know that I have never seen the graduate transcript of any of my colleagues? We do not request a transcript of graduate grades because my colleagues and I would regard that information as useless. We are trying to hire the best scholars, not people who got the best grades in their graduate courses (p.10).
What you have created (your publications) is ultimately the best evidence of a successful apprenticeship and your best selling point. I’m not recommending that you not put in a good effort in class, because you will learn things that will help your publishing and in most programs you still need a B to pass the class. In some programs you may lose your funding if you don’t meet a certain threshold and certainly if you are just getting a Master’s and plan to get a Ph.D. elsewhere, your grades matter. So do try to do pretty well, but I’m just saying that it just shouldn’t be your top priority as you don’t have to get perfect grades anymore. There’s a huge difference in effort from an A- to an A or a B+ to an A-. Put that effort into research!
Truth #4: You Can’t Afford to Check Out For Long Breaks Like Undergraduates
Individuals with the “student” mentality follow the same pattern as undergraduates, once finals are over they live it up and check out all through Christmas break and the summer. Life and priorities are scheduled around class. However, with a professional mentality you realize that you can’t afford to take such long breaks because you’ve got a job to do that is not centered on class. Everything is scheduled around research. I’m not suggesting that you need to become a workaholic. Have some fun, play hard, but don’t play as long as the undergrads because you have already started your career and everything you do counts. For example, those with the professional mentality enjoy the extra time in the summer, unencumbered with classes to make huge strides in their publishing.
Truth #5: Theses and Dissertations Can Actually Hamper Your Progress
Whoa, you might say, this guy is really radical, how can a thesis or dissertation actually hurt you? Aren’t these research based after all? It’s true that going through the research process and getting some extra input and supervision can help you learn the craft. But here’s when it can be counterproductive: when doing this project is perceived as the ultimate objective and the ultimate achievement you should strive for. Let me illustrate. I’ll never forget running my first experiment in a computer lab that was shared by several other graduate students and everyone kept asking me, “So is this for your master’s thesis or for your dissertation?” After a while I felt like screaming, “No, don’t you get it, there’s more to graduate school than a stupid dissertation. I’m doing this just for the sake of publishing an article!” Focusing on a dissertation gives those with a “student” mentality a false sense of accomplishment as if they have now completed their research requirement. Truly these milestones exist, in my opinion, to give structure for the weakest of students to get them some exposure to the research process. My graduate advisor wisely counseled me to have multiple manuscript projects underway and then when it came time for my dissertation, I could decide which project was at the “right stage” to call my dissertation. Obviously, you need to complete these hurdles, but they can be completed as one step toward your bigger goal of publishing several manuscripts.
Making the mental switch from the “student” mentality to the “professional” mentality will make all the difference for you or for your graduate students. I am curious to hear from you, which of these truths did you find to be most surprising? I cover all of these core truths in much greater depth with helpful application exercises in my book Publish and Prosper. Also, if you are enjoying the content, receive regular updates on the posts by liking my Facebook page.
I encourage you to take action now to change your outlook of graduate school by completing some “Wrap Up Exercises” that will help you apply the important principles I’ve discussed here. Simply go to my website and then click on “Book Exercise Downloads” and then click on the free download of “Chapter 14 Wrap up Exercises.” This will be very helpful for you to cement the principles I have discussed!
Originally posted on Paleotool's Weblog:
Using archaeology to find out hows things “should be” done? A response to a common question, by George Thomas Crawford
I am regularly asked about my connection to archaeology and my interest in primitive technology. I’ve also been chided by some people in the primitive tech community on behalf of other archaeologists because they (archaeologists) are not all directly interested in the primitive skills. There is so much more to the anthropology of material culture and our human past than just the replicative technology. It just happens to be what I’m into.
Many of my anthropological colleagues are way smarter and more focused than I am and go in for chemistry, microscopy studies, site and landform formation, human-animal interaction, plant-use, kinesiology, geology and humans, climate change, genetics, biocultural evolution, and a slew of other cool stuff that isn’t generally covered in the popular press.
Here’s an interesting Paleoindian biface made from banded Alibates chert. It was apparently discovered by a local resident in the early 1970s. The tool (knife) measures about 12 cm (4 3/4″) and is remarkably thin, with flaking consistent with other Clovis bifaces from the site. I have used this, as well as other unusual specimens to demonstrate the wide variety of lithic tools that are part of the tool kit that are often overlooked in the popular media. Although we cannot be certain as to it’s exact temporal placement, based on morphology, the area where it was recovered and information from the finder, I think it is most likely Clovis in age, but we will never be certain.
I decided to post this today as one of our graduate researchers, Stacey Bennett just came across the original field note from when it was returned to the Landmark in 1984.
Originally posted on Imponderabilia:
With the year winding down, I thought it might be fun to share this Heritage Daily article featuring their opinion of the top 10 archaeological discoveries of this past year. Some of them I have covered in previous blog posts and some I haven’t – but all are interesting and worth a quick review. Also a great opportunity to catch up on recent findings in the archaeological community if you haven’t been in tune all year. Enjoy!
1 : University of Leicester Announces Discovery of King Richard III