Keeping Up With the Balts

As reported here before, a month from now there’s an interesting symposium in Estonia under the heading Rank, gender and society around the Baltic 400-1400 AD. I’m not going, but for those interested I append the list of participants and papers below the fold. I like to know a little about who’s doing what in my field.
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Wish I Could Do That In Linux

i-a4af6612f71a071eefb29bd2dcab3c53-ubuntux.pngFor a few weeks, I’ve been slowly, slowly learning my way around the Open Source operating system Ubuntu Linux. Lots of things work just fine. Indeed, they work incredibly well considering that I downloaded an entire operating system with office software for free from the net. But every now and then I run into things that force me to boot Windows XP or lower my expectations. They may be fully possible to do in Ubuntu, though too complicated for me to accomplish at my current level of ignorance; or semi-possible to do in Ubuntu through an ugly kludge that’s not worth it; or they may simply be impossible to do in Ubuntu.

Here’s the list as it stands today: things I wish I could do in Linux.
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Ubuntu Slip of the Tongue

i-6ee772a82b9d9fb169128feb7646e2ea-edgy-ring.jpgUbuntu Linux is a free Open Source operating system with office software, intended to empower the Third World by freeing it from dependence on Western software companies. It shares its name with a humanist ideology promoted by people such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The software is also popular in the West, where most of the development takes place and where most of the installations running it are likely located. The project’s Swedish homepage prominently features a fine piece of inadvertent colonial condescension. It’s actually quite heartwarmingly naïve in its complete lack of political correctness.
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Weary Po-Mo Platitudes

i-ec00eec9973fc9df83e58ead5f11d4d7-charlotte1.jpgBrowsing through the reviews section of the current issue of Antiquity, I came across a confusing and irritating piece (behind a paywall) by one Dr. Charlotte Whiting. She works for the Council for British research in the Levant and is based in Amman in Jordan. Her review article treats three recent books on the Iron Age of the southern Levant, in other words, what is commonly known as Biblical archaeology. Though I entered archaeology as a shovel grunt on Tel Hazor in the Galilee, I know very little of this subject. I have read none of the books Whiting discusses; my complaint isn’t about that. What raises my hackles is a series of snarky hyper-relativistic phrases that mark Whiting out as the kind of lingering 1990s post-modernist that is all too common in my discipline. What confused me was that those distasteful soundbites are interleaved with sensible rationalistic arguments that are quite at odds with hyper-relativism.
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Scholarly Journals Anthology

i-f272625865b4a5727439cf3952a42545-Scholarly journals omslag bordered lores.jpgLast week an anthology I’ve edited was delivered from the printers.

Scholarly Journals Between the Past and the Future. The Fornvännen Centenary Round-Table Seminar. Stockholm, 21 April 2006. Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, Konferenser 65. Stockholm 2007. 109 pp. ISBN 978-91-7402-368-8.

On 21 April 2006 a round-table seminar took place on the premises of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities in Stockholm. The occasion was Fornvännen‘s centenary, and the theme was the current status and future prospects of such scholarly journals.

This volume collects nine papers by participants in the seminar. They include the editors-in-chief of Acta Archaeologica (Copenhagen), Antiquity (York), Archaeologia Polona (Warsaw), Finskt Museum (Helsinki), Kuml (Aarhus) and the defunct Meddelanden från Lunds universitets historiska museum (Lund). Other contributions are made by representatives for the National Library in Stockholm, the Library of the Academy of Letters in Stockholm and the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

Main themes are the step from paper to on-line publishing, how to solve funding problems and the best way to ensure continued high academic standards.

I learned a lot from Jan Hagerlid’s excellent paper on e-repositories and Open Access journals. Did you know that in the future, your department will most likely pay a journal a sum of money if it accepts one of your manuscripts, and people will then get to read the published paper for free? My advice is, don’t buy stock in commercial journal publishing companies.

Letting It All Hang Out

Many senior Swedish archaeologists are afraid of metal detectors and uncomfortable with the idea that the public might have access to such machines. Likewise with information about the locations, or even the existence, of newly made metal detector finds. “Keep it quiet or you’ll attract looters.”
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Älvestad Church Fire Aftermath

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As reported here before, the Medieval church of Älvestad in Östergötland, Sweden, burned down on 29 March. On 12 April I visited the site and took some pix. I was somewhat heartened to see that what has been destroyed was largely a product of radical 18th century re-building. The remaining 12th century masonry is confined to the tower which is the least damaged part of the church after the fire. The spire and the bells have collapsed into the tower, but it still looks structurally sound.

More pix below the fold.
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Hoary Oaks on Heathen Barrow

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This entry was first published over the cell-phone network on my old site, without pix, on Friday 13 April.

I write this sitting on a rock outcrop just east of the great barrow of Disevid in Heda parish. It brandishes four great old oaks at me as it sits across a little marsh with a small stream running through. Sunshine, lark song, some wind and the low growl of a diesel motor in the distance.

Theres Grönqvist is on my detector today, and with few finds there is little for me to slap GPS coordinates on. The barrow is one of the largest in the province and undated, which is why we are here. I’d like to trial-trench the barrow for radiocarbon, and to provide context I’d like to know what’s under the surrounding fields. Metalwise, not much, it seems after 9 person-hours. (Nor did it after 13.)

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900 Years Ain’t Old Enough

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This entry was first published over the cell-phone network on my old site, without pix, on Thursday 12 April.

This morning we wrapped up our 20 person-hours in Varv, joined by regular Dear Reader Lars Lundqvist. The weather was great, but we found nothing older than the 11th century. A fragment of interlace-decorated jewellery with the openings between the tendrils marked crudely by round holes reminds me of Urnes brooches of c. AD 1100. A pear-shaped pendant with an obliguely hatched cuff feels vaguely like it might be a piece of High Medieval dress ornament. Together they may mark the spot of a 12th century farmstead, which is rare but later than my research period. Finally a rim-sherd of a brass tripod cooking pot, Late Med or Renaissance.
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Media Frenzy

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This entry was first published over the cell-phone network on my old site, without pix, on Wednesday 11 April.

This has been a stressful but fun day: I have spent most of it talking to the mainstream media. You see, I forgot to tell you yesterday that somehow regional radio had heard of the foil-figure model find I blogged about Monday, and a lady came out to site and interviewed me and Niklas. This morning it was a big radio news story. And so the other Östergötland media jumped onto the bandwagon: two TV stations and one newspaper hunted us down to look at the find, one newspaper interviewed me over the phone, and a national newspaper called to ask for a photograph of the model.
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