Archaeological Field School Part 4

July 5, 2011 3 comments

That’s two more days at the field school done. Two official days of doing things. Yesterday on the fourth of July we had out first day but really we didn’t do much archaeology. We had two and half lectures that lasted around 2 and 1/2 hours total. The first was an introduction to the Achill Field School that was done by the founder and person in charge Theresa Macdonald.  The other one and a half lectures were done by Stuart who is the excavation leader at the school he is a pretty funny guy and the shorter safety lecture was both funny and informative. The last lecture was done off of a slide entitled 7000 years in 60 minutes and basically did that: tell the history of Ireland from the Mesolithic to the present in 60 minutes. It was very informative and it was amazing to see how much history is really covered on the sites that are being excavated by this field school in Achill Island.

After the lectures we went on a hike/lecture through the Achill Island countryside where Stuart pointed out many historical and archaeological points of interest and showed us how to observe things as an archaeologist. We hiked down a path for almost 2 miles before we went straight up a hillside and encountered a Napoleonic tower high on that hill. It was pretty ruined but the bottom floor was still intact. Stuart described some features of the site and the history of it and joked about how he wanted to excavate here next just to make everyone climb up the big hill with all of the tools. After that we went down the hill and looked at a relatively modern but deserted quartz mining area. Next we headed over to the deserted village that is on the side of the mountain of Slievemore. It has been fully deserted since the 1950s but even then it only had one inhabited house out of the original 120 or so. Now there are only 70 houses still remaining but still very ruined. Read more…

Categories: Archaeology, General, Hiking, Travel

Archaeological Field School Part 3

July 3, 2011 5 comments

Well I’ve made it to Ireland and it sure is beautiful. After two long plane flights I landed in Dublin on July 1st. The immigration woman gave me a little flak after I said I would be there for 6 weeks but with my paperwork and explaining she had no problem and seemed to be pretty excited I was going to Achill Island. She asked how exactly I was going to get there and when I explained that she said that I had a long journey still ahead of me. After grabbing my baggage I headed out and took a bus directly into the centre of town at the central bus station. I knew from maps I had seen that the central bus station was pretty close to my hotel so with nothing more than an address and a vague recollection I wandered around a bit and stumbled on to the hotel.

Once at the hotel I was checking in as well as checking my phone I had in Romania as I wanted to replace it with an Irish SIM card. With my phone on I suddenly got a random call and answering it I realized it was wrong number from Romania but I had answered “Buna ziua” and that’s how I found out the receptionist was Moldovan and so she was very impressed when she found out I had been there as it seems most people didn’t even know where that was or what it was. She also helped me out by pointing me towards a nearby place to get an Irish SIM card. So I went and got that and headed back to my room. I then started planning out my trip to see the Book of Kells as well as to get some dinner and that’s when I passed out and didn’t wake up till 2:00 in the morning.

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

That next morning I got up and got ready and then at Read more…

I “quickly” review books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen recently (part 2) oh and some Irish trip commentary

July 2, 2011 3 comments

Well this is my second day and Ireland and it has been really fun so far. But instead of talking about all of that and with just an hour before I leave for the train station to go to Achill Island I decided to review some more movies I have seen.
Well since my brother had written his own reviews of things and added some more with a great comment on my last post of reviews and since I have recently watched a few more movies I decided I should share my thoughts on them here. I’m not going to bother with the rating system, just going to give you my thoughts and you can take that as my review.

1. Thor. Great mythology but not the greatest of movies. For extra craziness its directed by Kenneth Branagh… taking a break from filming the entirety of the works of Shakespeare… go watch Henry V now. Anywho… the movie is exciting and for those who love comic book movies this one will not disappoint. But I think its strong points were in the mythology of the story… I almost felt like I watching a movie with a cool Norse mythology story in it and then this comic book story kept intruding on it. I don’t think it was as bad as that but I do think they should have spent the first movie on Asgard and other places of Norse mythology… and had it then end be where he is banished to Earth. It would have allowed them Read more…

Change to my blog

The huge, long blog posts were starting to be distracting on the home page of this blog, and potentially preventing readers from wanting to read the posts. So I went ahead and added some “read more” tags into the blog posts so that you can just go to their specific pages to read them and the home page will be much more clutter free. So don’t be too worried if you are wondering why all my posts are so much shorter… you have to go to the post to read the rest of it.

Categories: General, Internet, Writing

Archaeological Field School Part 2

June 10, 2011 2 comments

OK got through that never-ending list of reviews to be able to bring Part 2 of this series. I am still 20 days off from flying to Ireland and I still have plenty of preparation to do so I thought I might as well show some of the items I will be taking on the trip with me. This list is clearly not exhaustive, but will be mostly the items I find interesting or that are important to the traveling and doing of the archaeology on the trip. Mostly the cool traveling stuff.

1. My backpack for the trip.

My pack, it has my name stitched into it...

It is a Gregory Baltoro 70 pack. I will be packing it mostly full and then putting it in a canvas duffel bag to protect it when I check it on the airline. It seems to be an amazingly comfortable pack so far, but I want to pack it up to 30-40 pounds and take it on a bit of test hike just to see how Read more…

I “quickly” review books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen recently

June 3, 2011 7 comments

Well this isn’t the Archaeological Field School Part 2 yet but I’ve decided to go ahead and review some of the media I have consumed over the past half a year. I just got a Kindle so I was inhaling books for a while there as I binged on them. I also watched a few movies I think I’ll review. These will be very quick reviews with just snippets of critique and a very basic rating system. For the books the system will be grading the setting with one score, a thumbs up/thumbs down rating, and the other thing being graded will be the story with the same rating system. For the movies I will grade the music, cinematography, and story. So let’s get to it.


1. Gregor the Overlander

Setting: Partial thumbs up. Not the most interesting of settings but not completely terrible. I really like underground settings but this one couldn’t quite grab me. Also I found the idea of him falling a long ways at the beginning confusing and hard to understand exactly how far down he is when that aspect is used later in the story.

Story: Thumbs down. Read like young adult fiction to me and stereotypically so with rushed action and movement from plot point to plot point, obligatory plot twists, a sense of learning the “systems” of the world that just rang false for me. As well as not the most natural of dialogue to me.

2. The Historian

Setting: Thumbs up. Holy cow I love the Europe of this novel, all these places I’ve been that have this otherly feel in the book that I really like where it’s not quite different but not quite the same as the real book. Also the nature of the story as a fictional historical mystery taken with all the scholarly respect of a real historical mystery lends it a very intellectual feel without resorting to the density of something like Umberto Eco’s novels.

Story: Thumbs up. The story is built with a Read more…

Archaeological Field School Part 1

June 2, 2011 47 comments

Well its only a month away till I ship off to Ireland for six weeks to attend the Achill Archaeological Field School.  I am very excited and looking forward to this opportunity.  If I am not insanely busy and I think others might find things interesting I will be trying to blog here about my experiences preparing to go, learning some Irish, as well as the things that occur when I’m there studying archaeological techniques and seeing Ireland, so try to visit here again to see what I’ve added. I guess I’ll start with some details.

I’ll be leaving the 30th of June but will be arriving in Ireland July 1st I believe and I’ll stay in Dublin overnight. I’ll then take the train the next day to Westport in the west of Ireland where people from the field school will drive me to Achill Island on the far west Atlantic coast of Ireland. The field school is run through National University of Ireland, Galway and has been doing over 10 years of archaeology on the island. I’ll be staying at a dorm there in Dooagh on Achill Island, there should be wireless broadband there in the dorms from what I can tell and that this is the first class that will have it. Regardless, they have a pretty nice sounding computer lab for their GIS portion and other digital aspects of archaeology so I should be able to write a few blogs from there. I’ll be in Ireland a total of 6 weeks leaving there the 13th of August and getting back the 15th I believe.

The nearest Protestant church. There are six other Catholic churches on the island I believe but this Church of Ireland chapel is the only Protestant one, a 4 mile walk from the field school.

The work we will be doing there involves the meticulous excavation of a Bronze Age hut on the island. Charcoal found in the soil covering the site has been carbon dated to around 1400-1200 BC which would put it in the Middle Bronze Age of Ireland. And this is just soil that is on top of it, not an actual dating of the structure, what is known as a terminus ante quem which is basically the latest date this Read more…