archaeology way

anonymous asked:

I am a Norse polytheist who is from the US. Although sometimes I don't like it, I know that I'm a product of this 'new' world, colonial culture. As such, I feel like an outsider in my religion because I do not view Scandinavia as some kind of spiritual homeland and see the gods most strongly in America. How would you approach this feeling of alienation?

First things first anon, I’m going to get a little sweary here - not at you though:

The idea of Scandinavia as some Holy Land in Asatru/Heathenry is bollocks. It is, quite frankly, a steaming pile of bullshit imported from some remnants of a Christian millenialist second-coming theology.

I mean no offense to my Scandinavian followers who are lovely people, or to any of you American folks by saying this. It’s one thing to visit the lands where Heathenry originated to soak up the landscapes spoken of in the Eddas, to visit, say, the actual places where the sagas and poems are set.

But to view them as any more holy than the lands which we inhabit now? Utter rubbish. Which isn’t to say that we can’t make journeys to where our literal ancestors came from, to learn about ourselves, but to lend those lands some kind of mystic importance is, well, a bit odd to me. I get that it arises from a desire to connect, to feel rooted, particularly in a ‘colonial’ culture, I really do.

Here’s the thing though - though I would dearly love to visit Iceland one day, I don’t need to. I don’t need to because I’m lucky to live in Britain, in the midst of the Danelaw. People who honoured my gods walked the same paths I walked, breathed the same water, felt the same earth beneath their feet. Round here, there’s Norse placenames everywhere. Less than eight miles away from me, they discovered the Silverdale Hoard in 2011.

I’m not pointing this out to lord my “my land is more Heathen than yours” status, but to illustrate a point. See, the Norse folk came here, and yes they raided, but they also settled. They intermixed with the local populace - they themselves were 'colonial’! Those Norse placenames I mentioned? They probably had Anglo-Saxon and British names before the colonists came, but the Norse ones have stuck, some thousand years later.

Those colonists named places for their gods, for words and concepts in their own language. They folded this new land into their worldview. To be sure, some of the Deep Cultural similarities between Norse and Anglo Saxon cultures would have helped, but the fact remains that Thor met Thunor here, Odin met Woden.

You anon, live far to the West, and there is mounting evidence that those plucky explorers got that far, as I’m sure you know. Maybe they survived and intermixed in ways archaeology has yet to show, or maybe they all died. It doesn’t matter, not really - because while they lived, they no doubt did the same as those folk who came here, to this small island.

They named places in their native tongues, and probably learnt some Native American names too, just as your countrymen still, in some areas live in places bearing original indigenous names.

I’ve said before that Heathenry is local. Sure, the gods are honoured and worshipped by those who feel the need. Sure, one honours one’s ancestors. But one also needs, if one is serious about attempting to achieve a modern version of the Heathen worldview, learn to connect with the environment in which we live.

Now, when I say local, I don’t mean you should practice American Heathenry™. I don’t know where you live in the States anon, but I’m pretty sure it’s a place with its own moods and rhythms. From my memory of trips to the US, Maryland is different to Key West is different to the Everglades is different to Miami.

Scale down your consciousness in a sense. Practice the customs and traditions of your town, your house, your garden. There’s maybe twenty Heathens in my town that I know of, and of those, they form two distinct populations. Which is perfectly fine. For all I know you’re the only Norse Polytheist in the area or choose not to associate with others for political or personal reasons or because they’re the kind of silly numpties who believe in white supremacy or some sort of bollocks like that.

That’s fine, and it’s fine because ultimately, only you can forge the connections needed. Only you can open yourself up to the world in which you live and call the gods to aid you in becoming aware of the threads which bind all wights together.

Only you can make the decision to live in a rooted way, to take your nourishment and strength from the land in which you live. How to do that though? From a non woo perspective, seek out local food and produce if you can - and it doesn’t have to be all the time - and make a deliberate attempt to be aware that  you are eating the fruits of this land.

If you can’t find, or can’t afford local produce, do the same with a glass of tap water. Even if the source is far away, it has still flowed through this land into your dwelling. Research the history of where you live - if there are any local founders or luminaries, pour them out an offering to say thank you for giving you a place to live. Obviously, in the US, this is fraught with implications regarding the displacement and maltreatment of Native Americans, but in my limited experience of such things, asking the gods to help bridge the gap in honouring all those who came before you, to this place is usually a good step.

And then, well, there’s trees. As a Norse Polytheist/Heathen, I bloody love trees. Not only can they connect you to Yggdrasil, the World Tree, in meditation, but if you’ll recall the Edda, humans came from driftwood enlivened by the gifts of the gods, so in a mythopoetic sense, trees are our kin, and we can learn much from them.

Think about the way they work; they emerge from a seed, sending root-tendrils out for water and nutrients, sprouting and reaching up, turning their leaves to the sun. If you’ve ever looked at trees along a street, you’ll probably notice that those tree roots will have cracked their way throug concrete - their vitality, their urge to seek out what nourishes them within the land in which they are embedded is such that it can break buildings and stone if need be!

This is something to contemplate in today’s increasingly urban society - that even despite the veneer of glass and steel and concrete, seeds still sprout, trees still grow, in defiance of so called 'civilisation’. And once you begin to notice this - really notice, you might begin to see the pulses and flows of that vitality, ancient, unstoppable, and all around us. You might contemplate that trees give us the fuel for our fires, light for our houses - what’s coal after all, but compressed vegetative matter, laid down long ago and burned to create steam which turns turbines producing electricity.

They take in carbon dioxide, give us the oxygen so we can breathe, their green chloroplasts capturing the sunlight, the source of all life on this planet, and their roots keep the topsoil in place so we can farm and consume that  which we farm, whether animal or vegetable. Each of them is unique, and some of them are older than we will ever be.

You might begin to consider how the oxygen they excrete mixes with the atmosphere, is stirred by the heat rising from the warmed earth to give us the winds which blow through their branches, setting their leaves to whisper with a language that birds learnt and passed to Odin and Sigurd both.

You might contemplate Nidhogg, down there gnawing at the roots of Yggdrasil, that old wyrm who steams in the cold by the kettle of roaring white-water. And you might consider Sigurd once again, slaying the wyrm and eating its heart as it cooks over a fire.

You might begin to breathe, to remember how your blood feels, there in your veins, right now, flowing, moving, giving you life, hue and goodly shape, all without you even trying. Might begin to feel something stir in your soul, as if a door opens, and suddenly, your ordinary world becomes infused with living beings. Might feel words on a screen suddenly reaching out, calling in old song.

Might iit be possible, for a moment, to recall the excitement of rediscovering something you had thought you had lost? Something you had thought you might never see again?

To entertain the notion that, if only for a while, there are places and times where the thousands of years and miles matter not a jot, because the gods and the ancestors and wights exist, right Here, right Now - maybe even as you read these words? All about you, just waiting, patiently, for you to notice the faintest traces of their presence. All you have to do is take a leap for a moment, a split second.

To allow  yourself to be connected. Because you already are, friend. Trust me. Feel free to let me know how it goes, anon.

Take care.

8

I call acting 3D-anthropology or archaeology in a way that actors are sort of out there digging away in a sort of mine shaft of the collective emotions of human beings across like the present and the past and history and actors kind of have to bring back their findings and put them in as it were the glass case of a motion picture. - Tom Hiddleston

Get some sleep

Title: Get some sleep

Pairing: Crowley x female!Reader

Word Count: 1300+

Warnings: none. Just some fluff.

Summary: (y/n) is one of the only hunters ever seriously going to college. However all the pressure is wearing her out. Luckily Crowley shows up and helps her get some well-earned rest.

(A/N: This is for @ellienovak (hope this even works, I never tagged anyone before), hope you like it and it’s close to what you wanted.)

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It had been days since you last gotten a good night sleep. In a couple of weeks your collage exams were to start and it stressed you to no end. As one of the only hunters ever who decided to pull through with college, most of your ‘colleagues’ just smiled at you. They didn’t get it. You didn’t want out of the life, you just thought there was more to life than hunting. Therefore apart from your major, you took some classes in archaeology and Latin. This way you could study and hopefully graduate in the subject you enjoyed while also getting deeper into important hunting basics. For a dead language Latin was pretty cool!

The last couple of months had been tough. You had to completely reschedule your life and get used to the thought of staying in one place for longer than a week. That had been interesting, especially the first time someone from your class had recognized you. You really had to fight down all your instincts, in your line of work recognition most of them lead to some monster trying to avenge their mother, brother, second cousin or whatever. However at some stage you got the hang of it. Hell, you even had a couple of friends to hang out with on Friday nights. It was the closest to normal life you had ever been while it was also one of the strangest, scariest experiences in your life. Collage really was something else. You loved it.

If it weren’t for the stupid exams! See hunting was easy, you had a life time of experience in that. With all the adrenaline and the motivation of saving innocent people, going up close against any monster any day seemed liked child’s play. But this… pages and pages of stuff you had to know in your sleep. This was fucking hard!

You slammed the book down and rubbed your tired eyes. It was already pretty late but you knew going to bed was no point. You’d lie awake and worry about the exams. Tossing and turning till you were so deep in your own mind that you’d start to question your college plans all together. You’d think about all the hunts you should be one, all the people you should be saving right now.

“Hello there.” Suddenly your tired eyes opened in surprise. Swiftly you turned around already grabbing your gun. You might have been a college student now, but you were no idiot!

“What the hell!” You yelled raising the gun at the man who stood relaxed and content in your living room, drink in hand.

“Hell is way tidier, love. Your place looks more like a battel field.” He looked around at all the text books and study notes that were shattered over the floor and any other available surface. “Don’t tell me the novels finally started a fight against all the scientific crap humans read and call it learning.”

“No one is picking a fight except the demon who just interrupted my studying.” You rolled your eyes. Admittedly your place was a serious mess. But wasn’t that how collage girls were supposed to life? Eating take out or ramen noodles, while their place looked horribly close to a cave?

“Calm down, love” He chuckled piling up some of the books on your tiny sofa “I just came to check in. Moose and squirrel haven’t heard from you in days, so they asked me to check in.”

“I’m fine.” You protested not wanting to worry anyone. Damn, you were a grown woman you didn’t need someone to send the king of hell of all people to check on you.

“That’s what I told them” Crowley just shrugged and sat down next to you. His drink reappeared refilled in his hands while he leaned back. Apparently he wasn’t planning on leaving you to your studies anytime soon. “But since I’m already here I thought I could spent some quality time with you.”

“Quality time with the king of hell?” You questioned doubtfully.

“Call me your majesty anytime you feel like it.” Crowley winked at you before picking up the book you slammed down before he arrived. “Archaeology. Can’t quit being a hunter deep down even in this place, ay?”

“This isn’t some vacation” You retorted “I’m studying.”

“Please don’t tell me you got yourself some of these hipster smart girl glasses?” Crowley sounded actually distressed and disgusted by the mere thought. “You can still go the college without these, right?”

That made you laugh. For the first time in days you relaxed and just simply laughed. The thought amused you so much you even considered getting some, just to mess with Crowley. Unfortunately you had forgotten about his mind reading ability. He scowled before looking at you in all seriousness. “Don’t even think about it, love.”

“Sometimes your abilities really suck.” You pouted.

“Only the best for you” He replied. The book really must have struck his interest, he turned it once again in his hands before he opened it to one of the pages you had marked. “Egypt. Hmmm…” He kept scanning the page while you watched him. His eyes flow over the page incredibly fast, getting deeper and deeper into the matter. “You know I’ve been there?” He pointed at one of the newer archaeological sites.”

“You?”

“Remember Dick Roman and his digging everywhere?” He smiled at you finally tearing his gaze away from the page “Of course the king of hell had a close look at all the findings. You would be amazed what he dug up.”

“Can you tell me about it?” For a second you were surprised yourself by your request. Quickly you decided it was because hearing first-hand about archaeology would probably help your studies. It had nothing to do with the fact that you found yourself enjoying Crowley’s company. Nor had it anything to do with his amazing accent. Nop, this was all for college.

“Sure” He nodded handing you the book to look at some of the pictures. Automatically you moved in closer, leaning slightly into him as he pointed out things on the newer coloured pictures. You found yourself enjoying not only his accent but his stories as well. Helping out the Winchesters with the Leviathans at the time, you didn’t know much about all the times Crowley went after whatever Roman was trying to dig up. It was surprisingly fascinating. And funny, you found yourself laughing more than you had in weeks, probably since you started college even.

You listened and laughed and slowly you drifted off to sleep. Your eye lids were getting heavier and you found following more and more difficult. At some point you promised yourself to only close your eyes for a second and to look back at the pictures after. However you couldn’t bring yourself to open them again. Subconsciously you snuggled closer to Crowley’s warm form just enjoying the company. So close you smelled a hint of sulphur and alcohol, but it didn’t disturb your peaceful rest instead it made you sleepier.

“Get some sleep, love.” Crowley whispered his voice close to your hair. You felt a hand brush over your cheek softly. “You really should take better care of yourself. Even a hunter gone college student needs rest.”

“Can’t sleep” You murmured, eyes still closed, too sleepy to be anything but honest.

“I can see that” He chuckled “Saw that the moment I came in here. Your eyes looked tired, worn out. But love, you’re almost asleep now.”

“That’s cos you’re here.” You nuzzled even closer into him, wanting to keep his warmth and comfort.

“Is that so?” Amused he pulled you closer into his side, pressing a light kiss in your hair. You answered with a soft affirmative hum. “Sleep then, I’ll stay right here. Just… Just promise me you also try and take care of yourself when I’m not around, love.”

Again you hummed affirmative, not even knowing to what exactly you agreed. The only thing your brain could focus on was the soft warmth you were pressed against and even that warmth slowly faded as you completely drifted off to sleep. The last thing you heard was a soft “Good night, my love” and a tender kiss in your forehead.

For endless solitude and stargazing, plan a visit to Whitney Pocket in Nevada. Whitney Pocket is located at the intersection of the Gold Butte Backcountry Byway and Whitney Pass Road. It contains a cluster of sandstone outcrops with cultural resource sites, including prehistoric habitation and rock art. Makes for amazing day and nighttime views.

Photo by David Walker, BLM Nevada photo contest

3

Ways to say goodbye to your country, no. 42: Go to the Sackler Library.

Oxford is a small city, but while most of us are here, we tend to have a very select geography. One of my most-oft travelled routes was out of Wadham, down Broad Street, across to Magdalen street, then left onto Beaumont Street, past the Randolph and the Ashmolean, and into the small side-street of St John’s Street, where the Sackler library stands awaiting harried students of classics, archaeology, and art history.

The Sackler is one of the newer additions to Oxford’s bibliotectonic landscape, and it’s an utterly illogical structure. More than a little retrograde in its Classical design, it has been described by critics somewhat generously as “unfashionable”. In my view, the Sackler is a total abomination: not only does it appropriate the hackneyed and conservative classical form of the nineteenth century (it was built in 2001, for Pete’s sake!), it’s totally impractical in design. The library itself is a perfect rotunda, which means that you tend to walk literally around and around in circles saying to yourself ‘why can’t I find my book?’, all the while getting dizzier and more confused, because everywhere looks the same. Trying to find more than one book at a time in the Sackler makes me motion sick. The fact that it’s a rotunda also makes the building gloriously inefficient in terms of book storage (rectangular bookshelves and a round building do not a snug fit make) and a cough-and-sneeze magnifying echo chamber of irritating ambient noise. There is no mobile phone signal, some of the special collection reading rooms are windowless, airless boxes that, coupled with the mouldering old books they hold, have often made me feel quite ill.

None of this, however, makes me love the Sackler any less than I do, which is an improbable amount. Call it Stockholm syndrome from having spent at least some time in this library for most days out of the past four years, but I like the Sackler. I like its tables near the foyer, from which you can watch the world come and go. I like the fact that it’s less than 100m away from some of the best coffee shops in Oxford. I like the Haverfield coin room, where as a numismatist, I spent a lot of time poring over badly reproduced black and white photographs of grainy coins. I especially like the basement, with its vast collection of European archaeology books, somewhere only myself and a few ancient academics frequented. I love the fact that the Sackler holds first editions of Stuart and Revett’s illustrations of the Parthenon. I love the fact that the Papyrology room holds most of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. I love the levelling effect of the Sackler, where the lowly undergraduate and esteemed scholar can sit in adjacent booths sighing over an overdue paper.

I’m sure the Firestone and the Marquand will probably also become small homes away from home, but the Sackler in its silly round confusion will always have a special place in my dusty old academic heart.

bbc.co.uk
Neanderthals 'could speak like us'

An analysis of a Neanderthal’s fossilised hyoid bone - a horseshoe-shaped structure in the neck - suggests the species had the ability to speak.

This has been suspected since the 1989 discovery of a Neanderthal hyoid that looks just like a modern human’s.

But now computer modelling of how it works has shown this bone was also used in a very similar way.

You didn’t discover a lost city, you failed to notice that indigenous people exist

Last month, a filmmaker and a writer landed a helicopter in the rain forest of Honduras. They walked a while, and located a wonderful archaeological site, complete with architecture, plazas, and stone sculptures. It was lauded in the press as a huge discovery, perhaps the mythical lost city in the Honduran rain forest, maybe even a lost civilization.


The problem is that it wasn’t a lost civilization, or even a mythical lost city. I know, because I’ve been studying that area for years. Other archaeologists worked there before me. People live nearby and travel through there all the time.

So there was a lot of hype and sensationalism, and serious scholars were disgusted. They wrote letters complaining about it all.  The original team looked silly, like children playing out a movie fantasy. The scholars who complained looked humorless, and maybe jealous that they didn’t get to play jungle explorer. And if that’s all it was, it wouldn’t matter much, perhaps. Nobody else would care.

But this kind of pseudoarchaeology and careless sensationalism has real consequences. The language used evokes a time where foreign explorers emphasized their superiority at the expense of local knowledge. The hype overshadows real science, and we know that this kind of lost city/treasure hunting mentality puts archaeological resources at risk.
While these things are important, there is a much more human and immediate cost, borne primarily by the most marginalized, least powerful folks in the region: indigenous people like the Pech who are descendants of those who built these sites.

I know this is not a ‘lost civilization’ because I am an archaeologist, and I’ve worked in this ‘unknown’ area for almost 25 years. I lived and worked with the Pech almost exclusively, because I thought it was the right thing to do, and because they know the region better than anyone. They have at least a thousand years of history there.
For the Pech, the past is absolutely essential to their future. Their history is not merely an interesting pastime; it creates and supports the present. They are curious about the archaeology. I’ve talked to impromptu community meetings, looked at artifacts they collected, and listened to their interpretations. I saw them make modern pottery look like the ancient pieces we find at archaeological sites, in a deliberate attempt to connect the past and the present.

I lived with the Pech at various times over the last two decades. We lived in small villages with no electricity or water. We spent all day, every day, together. We sat and talked every night. We played cards. We took trips through the forest for two or three weeks at a time, mapping archaeological sites along the way. All told, the Pech and I documented around 150 archaeological sites.

The Pech already knew where every large site was located. Every single one. They knew where fruit trees grew, or where the good fishing holes were. They could find the little trails that I could hardly see. Sometimes we followed an old trail by looking for grown over machete cuts on branches. They knew the forest like I know my hometown.

Archaeology is rather like a vast, fiendish jigsaw invented by the devil as an instrument of tantalising torment since:

it will never be finished

you don’t know how many pieces are missing

most of them are lost for ever

you can’t cheat by looking at the picture.

—  Bahn P., Bluff your way in archaeology.
youtube

Know Your Scientists! Archaeology or Paleontology?

How do you make an archaeologist really mad, really fast? Ask her if she’s found any dinosaurs. SciShow helps you Know Your Scientists by explaining the many differences between archaeology and paleontology, and how they’re each awesome in their own ways. 

2

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki:

Vessels in the type of the alabastron that have been covered in metal sheet to appear more valuable and tasteful.

A selection of funerary offerings from the same tomb in which vessels made of alabaster are covered in gold sheet.

The terracotta tin-coated alabastron comes from Sedes, Thessaloniki. Only a faint grey staining remains from the original veneer. The smaller alabastron on the right is a reconstruction by Z. Kotitsa, donated by the Martin Von Wagner Museum.

(4th century B.C)

Covering terracotta or stone vessels in metal sheet are consistently observed from the Bronze Age and on. It was a quick and easy way to make certain vessels and small objects appear more valuable and beautiful. Never forget that the world of the antiquity was not illuminated by electricity. In a world of darkness and half-light these garishly decorated objects captured and reflected light in a most becoming way.

'World's oldest yacht' excavated from island cellar

An archaeological dig is under way to free what is believed to be the world’s oldest yacht from a cellar in the Isle of Man.

The vessel, Peggy, was built for Castletown politician and bank owner George Quayle between 1789 and 1793.

After Mr Quayle’s death, the boat was locked away for almost 120 years, until it was rediscovered in 1935.

Edmund Southworth, of Manx National Heritage (MNH), said it was a “Manx treasure which needed rescuing.”

He said: “Internationally, Peggy is quite simply one of the oldest boats to survive”. Read more.