Monday, 30 December 2013

Course: Archaeology's Dirty Little Secrets

Archaeology's Dirty Little Secrets is a FREE online course run by Coursera.  Archaeology's Dirty Little Secrets is a MOOC, which is a Massive Open Online Course.

Here's the blurb for the course:  

In this class, we will ask and answer a series of questions about the role and practice of archaeology in the world today. If archaeologists are trained to investigate the past, what is left for us to study? Who gets to be an archaeologist? How and why do archaeologists hunt for “treasures”, and what do we do once we’ve discovered them? What can we know, and not know, about people in the past? What do archaeologists know about the past that most people would never guess – and why aren’t we telling you? Why are people entirely willing to murder each other over the fate of archaeological sites? Are Real Men alone capable of discovering the truth behind all this? 

Archaeology famously involves getting dirty in the line of duty. Students will experience its hands-on nature, through the use of numerous exercises and archaeological case studies. But there are other ‘dirty little secrets’ to learn about the field: not least how the stories archaeologists tell about the past have been used and abused, for purposes both good and bad. Our goal by the end of the course is to have you ‘thinking like an archaeologist’ and fully aware of the often-fraught politics of doing archaeology around the globe. 

Course Syllabus 
Unit #1: Just what are these secrets anyway? 
Unit #2: What has survived for us to find? And what have we lost?
Unit #3: So how do you find things? Archaeology ≠ just digging 
Unit #4: How do you get a date? (And why are dates so important?) 
Unit #5: What do you do with what you find? 
Unit #6: What is involved in the archaeology of people? 
Unit #7: Where does archaeology happen? Who can play? 
Unit #8: Who owns the past?  

Recommended Background Absolutely no prerequisites. Just be curious.

To accompany the course, there are Facebook ( and Twitter pages (  if you want to interact further.

Check out further details about the course here. They also do courses on Roman Architecture and a host of other subjects including history and science and much more, so check out their course database.

Why not give it a try?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Comment: Io Saturnalia and Season's Greetings

Kurt reckons this painting looks like tea break at the dig compound ...!
Roman Saturnalia occurred in late December and was connected to the Winter Solstice. For more details see here.
Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year, and another successful digging season at Ravenglass in 2014!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Comment: Tullie House Museum, Carlisle

Kurt went to visit the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle recently to check out the Crosby Garrett Helmet currently being displayed there. Catch it while you can, as it continues its travels 26th January!

There was also a newly refitted Roman Frontier Gallery to explore, and there were a plethora of interesting Roman finds from Carlisle on show.  Here's a taster:
This is an elegant way of showing how the hair pins of bone and jet would be worn by a Roman woman, and also shows the glass beads she may have worn

Here's a selection of Roman glass beads, including three examples of melon beads

Roman bronze brooches which would have held up a Roman woman's dress (stola), as well as being decorative, and having a chain joining them (for further bling effect!)
An antler/bone comb.  The Romans didn't have hair brushes, just using combs instead.

 It's Venus Anadyomene again!

A steelyard, along with its lead weight, used for weighing out food and other commodities

A side-on view of the Roman ceramic roof tile system.  The flat tile, with edges turned up is called a tegula, and the curved tile is called an imbrex.