Skeptical Dirty Limerick Carnival

Akusai of Action Skeptics has done something pretty ostentatious and very cool: he’s written the latest Skeptics’ Circle blog carnival entirely as a collection of dirty limericks!

“An Irishman living with Swedes
Speaks about bodily needs
Eat and drink well
So at sex you’ll excel
But vitamins? Useless as weeds”

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Anthro Blog Carnival

i-8c41f0039857fd5b5292bbcf84ec32ac-240px-Botswana_Locator.pngThe forty-first Four Stone Hearth blog carnival is on-line at Remote Central. Archaeology and anthropology, and all about Nswazwi. It’s a village in the Central District of Botswana, located close to the border with Zimbabwe. The village has primary and secondary schools and a clinic. The population was 1,741 in the 2001 census.

The next open hosting slot is on 16 July. All bloggers with an interest in the subject are welcome to volunteer to me. No need to be an anthro pro. But you must not have any trouble pronouncing “Nswazwi”, just like I haven’t.

New Mircheva Photograph Subverts Beauty

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My talented on-line buddy, Birmingham-based design student Tatyana Mircheva, has a new photo blog where she puts up some really interesting stuff. This series is a feminist commentary on the superficiality and narcissism of the beauty industry. The young woman worships her own reflection in the mirror, turning gradually into a Playboy Bunny. It’s the same theme as in Mircheva’s bike crash photo: young women aestheticising themselves to death, becoming pretty corpses.

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Sacred Field of the Shining One

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Yesterday me and my buddy Per Vikstrand visited the third site in our little exploration program for fields with highly suggestive names on 18th century maps. We’ve already covered the Field of St. Olaf and the Hall of Odin. This time we went to the Field of Ullr near Gävle, an hour and a half’s drive from Uppsala along the new shiny E4 motorway. (On the way we zipped across sites such as Sommaränge skog, excavated for the roadworks and previously covered in my blogging.)

Ullr is one of the old gods that were semi-forgotten in Snorri’s day, and so doesn’t figure prominently in extant mythological texts. His name probably means “the Shining One”, suggesting that he was a sky god, but Snorri associates him with war, archery and skiing. A very early runic inscription from about AD 200 mentions a man named Wolthuthewaz, which means “Servant of Ullr” (cf. Abdul and Gottschalk, two other names that mean “Servant of God”). The cult of Ullr was a big deal in mid-1st Millennium Scandinavia, as attested by a large number of Ullevi and UllerÃ¥ker place names.

Shiny Ullr’s Field turned out to be covered by succulent and rather tall grass, so conditions weren’t ideal. But metal detecting is fun even if all you find is a coin from 1963. (I did find one of those, and I look forward to returning it into circulation.) Otherwise, nine man-hours garnered us only one keeper, but it’s a good one: a piece of a gilded openwork copper-alloy ornament with interlace decoration. It’s certainly from AD 500-1000 and probably from the 10th century, the Middle Viking Period.

We’re done with fieldwork for a while now, and hope to have a joint paper out about our findings in the not-too-distant future. All three sites have given material from the period AD 300-1100. The next time I report from fieldwork, I’ll be back at the Harbour of the Sheaf Kings or the Battlefield of Baggensstäket or a Neolithic site under Botkyrka golf club or a Mesolithic seal hunter’s camp.

Update 21 May: Explains Per; given the find context, Wolthuthewaz is more likely to mean “Servant of Glory” than “Servant of The God Whose Name’s Root Means ‘Glory'”.

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Kickass Archaeological Sites Register On-Line

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With its extremely late urbanisation, Sweden doesn’t have much of an archaeological record compared to Italy or China or Peru. But we keep really good track of the stuff we have: active organised surveying for ancient monuments has been going on for over 70 years, aided by the fact that Sweden has no trespassing laws and affords land owners no ownership to archaeological remains.

Sweden’s National Heritage Board has been placing its sites and monuments register on-line gradually over a period of years. At first, it was only accessible to professionals, offering a crappy map and working only under Internet Explorer (i.e. only under Windows). Then a public search facility was added, without any map. And today a completely new site has been launched, available to anyone: with a really sweet map and working under other browsers such as Firefox, that is, under other operating systems such as Linux! Professionals who log in get the full database, everybody else on the net can access one where sensitive sites (e.g. hoards) have been stripped out.

I’m proud to say that my buddies and Aard regulars LL of Arkland and Johan of Arkeologiforum are on the team behind this kickass new search facility. Dear Reader, even if you’re not in Sweden, take a look at the site and demand that your country’s Heritage Board give you something similar ASAP! You see, this is the way to do it.

(Now, LL and Johan, if I could only wish for one thing — could you guys finally get rid of the senseless requirement to add “:1” to an Raä number when you search for it? Pretty please? Just let me type “Grötlingbo 54”. Thank you.)

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Wikiblues

I’m frustrated about Wikipedia. Cultists are slowly and surely readjusting the Falun Gong article to their own rosy and “oh-how-persecuted-we-are” perspective. The other day I watched some anonymous loon create a new user account for the single purpose of deleting an article about someone he doesn’t like — and he’s succeeding. And Alun Salt is retiring from Wikipedia to redirect his efforts to the forthcoming Google Knol, whose name reminds me of the Swedish word for “fuck”. Check out Alun’s farewell speech!

Liveblogging

I’m at my son’s end-of-term violin concert. Wonder if I can blog from the new smartphone w/o using email and a human intermediary?

[Yay, I could! The Samsung for some reason comes with both IE and Opera preinstalled. Though Sb’s Moveable Type installation still doesn’t work with IE under Windows Mobile 6.0, it does work with Opera.]