Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An archaeology of images

I used to work in patents and got to see a whole range of crazy and exciting inventions. Out of curiosity I recently checked out google's "What do you love?" ( and searched for archaeology. For some reason I was surprised when I saw patents for archaeology pop up - so I clicked, not really knowing what to expect.

One of the first patents I saw was "Systems and Methods for Image Archaeology". The idea is that images are utilised and altered all the time so how do we find the source material - what is the archaeology of the edited or remixed images? It's not ground-based archaeology, but an archaeology that reflects our digital-orientated culture. In essence, it is a visual archaeology of the internet, which is both fascinating and questionable. I love the idea, yet I am curious about how it will be used, especially since it will (if the patent passes) become exclusive intellectual property for up to 20 years.

Side note: The person who wrote up the patent decided to include some images as a means of explanation (because patents love detailed lawyer jargon, images can help clarify things quickly). They focused on the political, including Bin Laden and George W. Bush with his mouth covered up - whoever drafted the patent probably has a sense of humour.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shocking: Neolithic Stone Circle Bulldozed

Reports began to circulate in early June concerning damage to one of a series of four remarkable Neolithic monuments in Somerset, southwest England. However, the scale of the damage to the Priddy Circles is only now being fully appreciated.

A ruined monument

The four Circles are listed together as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and as such are under the protection of the State. Somerset County Council confirmed it was working in conjunction with English Heritage to pursue a resolution for this distressing situation, which arose when the landowner, Mr Penny, allegedly used his earth-moving equipment to bulldoze, flatten and reseed the entire southwestern arc of the southern circle.

Read the Archaeology News - then buy the Trowel at Past Horizons Tools

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Indiana Jones controversy

Scumbag Indiana

Rome: A trip down memory lane

It appears I didn't just fall accidentally into archaeology. When I was a kid, my parents brought my cousins and I to Rome and we visited every archaeological site it had to offer. Here are some ridiculous photos of me back in 1991 in either the hideous yellow tartan outfit or the pink and blue shell suit, early 90s fashion at its best...

In the catacombs. We were locked in here for 5 hours while our guide went out for lunch and got drunk...

Temples, temples everywhere

More archaeological sites!

On the Spanish steps, I was not impressed

Chilling, 90s -style, at the Roman Forum

Chasing pigeons at the Vatican

At the Colosseum

Egypt: Zahi Hawass gets the boot

The iconic, press-loving minister of antiquities has been given the sack, as reported by the Associated Press:

Egypt's antiquities minister, whose trademark Indiana Jones hat made him one the country's best known figures around the world, was fired Sunday after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Zahi Hawass, long chided as publicity loving and short on scientific knowledge, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak's regime.

"He was the Mubarak of antiquities," said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. "He acted as if he owned Egypt's antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt."

Despite the criticism, he was credited with helping boost interest in archaeology in Egypt and tourism, a pillar of the country's economy.

Read more:

Limerick Hell-Fire Club

While back home, I was lucky enough to get a trip out to Askeaton Co. Limerick. Work is currently under-way restoring Askeaton Castle, but funding has run out on the 18th Century build beside it, the Limerick Hell-Fire Club. It is such a shame, as the building really needs some serious TLC. Very unusual in design and one of only two buildings in the country associated with the Hell-Fire Clubs, it looks like the heritage board just don't see it as a priority. The town is more famous for its island Castle, initially built in the late 12th century, the majority of the building now dates to the 15th century and was in use until Cromwellian forces dismantled it in the late 17th century.

The Limerick Hell-Fire Club:

New Discovery: Minoan Double-Axe-Head found outside of Crete

While driving around Bristol the other week, saw this:

July News: Fossils, cerne abbas & Maiden Castle

The last few weeks have been insanely hectic for me, hence the long drought of blog posts. First off, a trip to Dorset, Fossil Hunting!

A jaunt around Weymouth:

Camping in glamourous Hollywood:

And trips out to Cerne Abbas and Maiden Castle:

(Above, 4th Century AD, ruins of Roman Temple on top of Maiden Castle)