killclaudio: (Indiana Jones in Glasses)
[personal profile] killclaudio
Do you know why I both love and hate archaeology? Because this week I've had lectures on everything from the molecular-level composition of bone to epistemology and the theory of knowledge. Apparently I am expected to be both chemist and philosopher. And biologist, philologist and historian. There was also a brief detour through statistics (demography, yuck).

I also managed to call the research assistant Mr when he's actually Dr - apparently he got his PhD in the year I was away. Although he was very nice and "call-me-Andrew" about it. And two weeks into term a bitchy email fight has broken out between a couple of the lecturers, which they managed to send to the entire department instead of each other. Oh academic life, how I haven't missed you at all.

TFI Friday, y'all. Sleep now. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-28 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greenonme.livejournal.com
what is a philologist?

cause for the life of me i can only think that it's the study of a guy named Phil...

no, seriously, what is it??

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-28 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
Hehe! Now I really want to go and find a guy called Phil and sit there staring at him, and tell him it's a valid study! I may get arrested...

My dictionary tells me philology is the "love of words, the study of words and textual sources in their historic context". I'm not too sure that's how I would have described it. Basically, it's the study of language in a very broad sense; not learning a specific language, but looking at what written records tell us, how we interpret them, and how they might have been interpreted by the people who first read them.

So, as an example, the people who read the King James Bible when it came out in the seventeenth century would have viewed it differently to how we would read it today. Er, my idea of philology might not match the official definition, though. The best example is JRR Tolkien, who was a brilliant philologist and went around inventing languages for fun. ;-)

I don't actually do that much of this, although I've done the odd bit of post-Medieval archaeology, and you can't get away with not reading the original documents - especially if you're studying, say, burials for which there are ecclesiastical records. And I've clearly spent too much time at the university this week; I'm starting to sound like my lecturers.

I still much prefer your definition. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 04:39 am (UTC)
ext_3554: dream wolf (Default)
From: [identity profile] keerawa.livejournal.com
Apparently I am expected to be both chemist and philosopher. And biologist, philologist and historian. There was also a brief detour through statistics
Well, of course. How else will you come up with believable Fraserisms? That's the cool thing about writing. Any piece of knowledge in my brain may someday be just what I need to put the perfect capstone on a fic.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 10:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
That is a brilliant way of looking at it. Not that I object to learning this stuff, obviously, but I love the idea that it helps me write as well. And your stories are always seem so thorough and plausible - now I know how you do it! ;-)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 05:56 pm (UTC)
ext_3554: dream wolf (Default)
From: [identity profile] keerawa.livejournal.com
And your stories are always seem so thorough and plausible
*wiggles with pleasure at the lovely compliment before returning to her [livejournal.com profile] ds_match story*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 08:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aingeal8c.livejournal.com
Archaeology is like - let's mush a load of other stuff together. Although we didn't do too much biology because our lecturers were really into philosopy, theory and harris matrixes. Statistics though? Ewwwww.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
I have to do a fair bit of biology and chemistry because I'm working a lot with bones, although the university also does residue analysis, etc. for people who like that kind of thing. And then they're very big on ethnoarchaeology, which of course you can't do without studying middle-range theory, which means you need a good grounding in theory to start with... *sighs* I don't envy you studying at Manchester, I seem to remember they're verey into their theory.

We did Harris matrices in our first year, but there's only so many times you can draw boxes with little numbers in them before you go mad!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aingeal8c.livejournal.com
Yay bones! Closet we ever got were half disintrigrated cow bones from a Roman era ditch.

They also made us to a presentation on ethnoarchaeology - how on earth do you sum all of it up in a ten minutes?

I vaguely recall middle range theory. A lot of the theory has leaked form my brain. I don't mind it has. Although I still will wake up at night pondering Heidegger.

They are so into their theory at Manchester it's not funny. I think I learn more about random philosophy than I did about archaeology some semesters. It was very much all theory. And there was an heavy emphasis on ritual & religion.

Yes Harris sent me mad. We had to do an example, they picked a really complex one and after a while all the boxes merged into each other.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
Although I still will wake up at night pondering Heidegger.

That's actually a little worrying, you know. If you think about Heidegger for two long you can do serious damage to your brain. The number of times I have managed to get myself into a logical knot. Aargh.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aingeal8c.livejournal.com
I think I have you know. Before Heidegger I didn;t use top tlak to myself (much). He sends you mad. Logical knots can only be undone by nonsense.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 12:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bertybertle.livejournal.com
But....but....but...that's the best bit about archaeology. It's so inclusive! You have to know a bit of everything and you can come at a problem from so many different angles. I love that. There's room for a wishy-washy types like myself who like to think of things from a purely human perspective, but also for the clever buggers with their accelerator mass spectrometers and potassium-argon dating.

Also statistics... *shudders* We did Mary Rose arrow shaft:fletch:point ratios to prove... something. Can't remember. The guy thought it was fascinating. I almost gnawed a limb off in desperation.

Also, also... ethnoarchaeology is made of Yay! Even if you have to get through the theory first... which.... ouch!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
But....but....but...that's the best bit about archaeology.

Mostly it's what I love about archaeology, but it's been a long week, and I have a fortnight to come up with a dissertation title and persuade someone to supervise it. So there's a tiny bit of antagonism mixed in there.

We did Mary Rose arrow shaft:fletch:point ratios to prove... something. I almost gnawed a limb off in desperation.

Oh, me too. We had to study the length and width of limpet shells. Lots and lots of limpet shells. There's a book by Robert Drennan called Statistics for Archaeologists which saved my life, because I could actually understand the explanations in it. I am emphatically not a statitician.

Ethnoarchaeology is made of win, although the more ethnographies I read the more total crap I come across. I reckon at least half the stuff published hasn't been properly researched. I'm taking 'advanced experiment design' or something next term, so hopefully that should help.
*resolves to make ethnoarchaeologists attend first-year statistics lectures*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bertybertle.livejournal.com
I think ethnographies are a tricky thing to use, especially since they are such a product of their time of writing. Going back to theory again, you have to read their conclusions through a kind of crap filter depending on the date of the research and what the writer wanted to achieve by writing them. Spin has been around for a lot longer than New Labour, mate!

Keeps you on your toes though.

And I'll swap you limpet shells for arrows. A. because arrows of a KNOWN date and provenance... blech.... medieval... and B. because I bet your shells were part of a gorgeous prehistoric midden and you were assessing the time of year that the occupation site was in use for. * drools*

My tutor did a load of work in Scandinavia and on Star Carr on the seasonality of the deer bone assemblage... he was enthusiastic... and I kind of got hooked on it.

*goes to lie down in a darkened room with a damp cloth on her forehead*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
Spin has been around for a lot longer than New Labour, mate!

Word! Although I think what annoys me is the way some ethnographers assume that analogy is straightforward; if they both have similar material culture then they must have had similar behaviour. No mention of equifinality. Grrr. And you were spot on with the limpets - it was a midden on Unst, and we were trying to work out which bit of the island they were foraging from rather than seasonality - limpets on the SW coast, where the prevailing wind is from, tend to have to cling a bit harder! *pets the poor limpets*

Your icon reminds me, I only found out the other day that the actor who plays Daniel Jackson is called Michael Shanks. And then thought "Hang on, there is a famous archaeologist called Michael Shanks. Maybe they're the same person." Unfortunately I found a photo (http://metamedia.stanford.edu/~mshanks/images/ShanksandTilley.jpg) of Shanks and Tilley on the 'net, and they're not. But the photo made me laugh.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-29 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bertybertle.livejournal.com
*spits coffee* MUAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! The photo is priceless! And sadly, no, it isn't the same guy. Archaeology would be a sexier place if it were.

I think people at conventions make much of the coincidence. Must drive him mental!

And POOR limpets - that's so sad!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-30 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leafy22.livejournal.com
this week I've had lectures on everything from the molecular-level composition of bone to epistemology and the theory of knowledge

There's a fine line in academic life between "what a wonderful range of stuff to learn" and "aaargh - can we just concentrate on doing *one* thing properly". I like [livejournal.com profile] keerawa's point though that your course will give you a steady supply of Fraserisms!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-10-01 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
There's a fine line in academic life between "what a wonderful range of stuff to learn" and "aaargh - can we just concentrate on doing *one* thing properly".

That's exactly it. In theory the synthesis of all these different branches should be fascinating, but very often in practice different kinds of archaeologists don't really understand each others' research enough to be able to analyse it critically. And then you get silly feuds. Aaargh. But really, I love my job study. And in the meantime, I am working hard on my Fraserisms!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-10-02 08:17 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
Hey, I think it sounds really cool with a subject where you get to use stuff from so many disciplines.

Of course, maybe I think so because my own subject is so narrow. My research (in math) basically consists of me sitting with pen and paper writing down formulas and going "hmm, so this is not working" or "arrgh, I'll read some fan fiction instead", and then occasionally "yay, it's working!".

Ha, I get the bitchy email fight that goes out to the whole department. A while ago there was an email discussion about which two mathematicians we would name two lecture halls after. It ended up being Euler and Pascal, which is kind of a safe choice seeing as they're from pretty long ago. But then someone said there should be something about Pascal's contributions to theology on the information sign, and someone else replied saying basically that religion was crap and didn't belong in science. And you can imagine how it degenerated from there.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-10-04 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kill-claudio.livejournal.com
"Hmm, so this is not working" or "arrgh, I'll read some fan fiction instead."

Actually, that sounds remarkably like my research! Whenever things won't go right, I have a break and read a bit of fanfic, and everything seems to sort itself out in my brain without my input. What is your research on? Although bear in mind it's been six or seven years since I last studied maths!

But then someone said there should be something about Pascal's contributions to theology on the information sign, and someone else replied saying basically that religion was crap and didn't belong in science.

Wow, yeah, I can imagine. I had to do this brief bit about the difference in religious and scientific perspectives for a course on theoretical archaeology, and that was enough to kick off some pretty heated arguments. When my lecturers get like this I always prepare to duck flying objects.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-10-05 05:06 pm (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
What is your research on? Although bear in mind it's been six or seven years since I last studied maths!

Hmm, the answer kind of depends on how much math you know... : ) My field is complex analysis, where you basically want to investigate functions which depend on complex numbers (that is, a number of the type z = a + bi, where i is the square root of -1). That's the short answer. The slightly longer answer, which assumes you know what an integral is, is that you can often represent functions as sums or integrals of simpler functions. The purpose of this is that you can then look at the simpler functions and use them to get information about the original function. What I do is look for ways of representing certain functions in this way. (The technical third answer is: I'm looking for integral representations of differential forms taking values in certain vector bundles over complex manifolds.)

What's your research about?