18 January, 2021

UK Academic Archaeology; Incompetence, Science Denial and Racism

The good news is that my cancer has not returned, but having reached the "Do Not Revive" age group, I am not taking anything for granted, and I  have further surgery scheduled in the next few weeks.  

So I intend to spend what time remains to me in trying to prevent young people, international students  and tax payers being stiffed by these unscrupulous institutions peddling science denial.

I have decided to return to blogging and hopefully more making videos featuring some of the more outrageously dumb tin hat archaeology being promulgated at public expense. 

Obviously, Academics with a job for life in a monopoly where the customers always wrong have no need to defend their ignorance, any more than English Heritage or Museums services feel the need to justify their science denying stance. 

I have to admit I have found it psychologically difficult to reconcile being blackballed for challenging science deniers; apart from the money, why are these people [1] so anxious to piss in our collective chips?

Denial or Ignorance

We all should be aware of the dangers of science denial, but to allow it blossom in Higher Education is either stupidly criminal or criminally stupid, but despite repeated requests, Newcastle University refuse to confirm which is the case for their former Post-Graduate Dean and his staff. [op. cit.]

One might be forgiven for thinking that archaeology was not a real academic subject but a form of badly informed infotainment, after all, celebrities and members of the public don't do forensic accounting or midwifery on the weekend, but are regularly invited to hack holes in inoffensive ancient monuments for out amusement.

Sadly it's not just bottom feeders of Russell branded universities like Newcastle, but also those who regard themselves as serious institutions like Oxford and Cambridge that are guilty of dumbing down the subject through science denial and/or ignorance.

For the hoard of begowned over paid functionaries,  deans, chancellors and the like who see their task as improving the return of the Universities' property portfolio archaeology is an obvious target for dumbing down; do this to a science at you would be risking lives and our economic future.  

Fundamentally, merit is gained in subjects like archaeology by copying out other peoples work in your best handwriting, regardless of its merit or evidential basis, allowing for the reproduction of myths, fallacies and ensuring the progress of the credulous.

You are taught "archaeology" out of a book from some one who learned it out of a book, so all the victims of the system can do is practice archaeology out of a book. Thus,  "Methodology" in archaeology is basically what proper subjects call  "bias".

Many archaeology students naively imagine they are learning to be an archaeologist, but unfortunately they are being trained by a lecturer to be a lecturer, their fees are subsiding the very small percentage sufficiently compliant students to become the next generation of lecturers.

I am reliably informed that Academics teaching archaeology are payed the same money as those engaged in evidence based teaching, so ignorance is not only bliss it's just as financially rewarding as real knowledge.

A Classical Gaff

Being taught archaeology out of book by someone who learned it out of book would not be a problem if archaeologist found books, but surprisingly what they actually find is soil, and that's where the problems start.

Every institution involved with Roman Britain,  universities, museums, and most notably English Heritage persist in the promoting the myth of the Romans building things out of "turf".

This myth dates back to the eight century and Venerable Bede, and has been faithfully reproduced in their best handwriting by generations of academics.

Tragically, twenty years ago English Heritage excavated the "Turf Wall", and having gathered all the scientific data to demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt that this was not true, concluded it was made of "turf".  [2]

The power of nominative determinism is quite extraordinary, as is the fact that, in denial of the peer reviewed evidence,  academics continued to buy into this myth and sell it to their students.

The Roman Wall was no more made out of turf than the Moon is made from cheese, anyone regardless of status or salary, who tells you otherwise is either ignorant of, or in denial of basic soil science.

However, that's just the pointy end of a very long stick;  it is common practice to assume that any Roman structure not made of stone must therefor made of "Turf", [Q.E.D.] [!], resulting in numerous "turf" forts and a second "Turf" wall in Scotland - none of which has a scintilla of evidence to support it. 

Experimental archaeology - racism in action.

"Experimental" Archaeology tells you a great deal about Academics and virtually nothing about the past.  Repeated attempts to reproduce "primitive" "African" mud huts in the UK in defiance of the archaeological evidence is a tribute to the persistence of ideas about Cultural Evolution.  These concepts, similar to those which fuelled the genocidal politics of National Socialism, and are a remarkable example of both the racism and science denial that is central to UK academic archaeology.  

Portrayal of our ancestors as some form of white negro is a perfect analogue of racial theory that drove British imperialism and the slave trade; this is theme I intend to pursue in future work. It is also evident from our shared our visual culture of the past, which having no evidential basis serves only to illuminate the racist presumptions of UK academic culture. 

Personally, I feel it important to try to preserve some of the intellectual culture that made our education some of the best in the world, but once you dumb it down I suspect that it's gone for good.

However, I intend to keep on going because in some countries, particularly in the USA and parts of Europe, archaeology is still treated as a serious academic subject and has not fallen victim to the cadre of mediocre racist science deniers who have infiltrated our education system. 


[1] I refer explicitly in this case to Professor Niell Marshall - Former Post-graduate dean and enabler of Dr Jane Wester a self confessed "expert in Iron Age Building Cosmology".

While "Cosmology" is a big word [Neill],  so is "tautology" and it's criminal that you and your colleagues can't grasp such basic evidential principles, and cannot recognise or admit you are defrauding your students by faith based teaching. 

I retain a special affection for Professor Ian Haynes ["I wish I could help you Geoff, but I don't want to stabbed in the back by the people who stabbed, - I have my career to think about"], for his complicity in this duplicity.

[2] Wilmott, T., [ed]. 2009. Hadrian's Wall: Archaeological Research by English Heritage .(NB. p. 114 the pollen James Wells p. 116 The plant macrofossils, Allan Hall, )

24 May, 2020

The Life & Times of Charlie Thunderbird-Jones

I felt it was high time someone gave academics the sort of clap that they so richly deserve, although I am still working, if only to rob Universal Credit of another victim, However, as a birthday present to myself, {& in lieu of everything}, I have spent the last month working on a Major New Motion Picture Presentation of a Novel Graphic Pictorial Novelette Cartoon Video.

What started as a couple of dozen pocket cartoons has got out of hand, and developed a life of its own, or rather several bizarre and somewhat unpleasant lives of their own.
Now view on . . . .

...............................................................................................................[insert 4th wall here].......................................................................................................

TSA is proud to present:
The Adventures of Charlie Thunderbird-Jones 
– [Archaeologist Ordinaire from the infamous University of Tyneside].

This full colour mini-series was the departments attempt to persuade Dr Thunderbird-Jones to retire, however, the Corvid19 outbreak has effected their plans.  Paranoid Pictures have dropped the project and what we are left with a digitally compressed mini- box-set of the original story board, now sponsored by among others Granny Boogol Foods, Grizzled Maxwell Models, Gold Head Associates, and the Magic Mount eBank.

Warning; contains adult humour and scenes of an archaeological nature.





for meaningless Art

The Life & Times of Charlie Thunderbird-Jones

The events depicted in this Cartoon are entirely fictitious and any 
resemblance to person and events, real or imagined, is entirely 
malicious,  made with duplicitous intent to ridicule, vilify and abuse 
persons who shall remain nameless, notwithstanding the inherent 
mendacity of this statement above & below, which lacks veracity, being 
wholly without any basis in fact.

While individual cases should be judged on their merits, it is clearly to 
be misunderstood that any / no { delete as appropriate} implication that 
any member of a University staff is a deceitful dishonest double-
dealing moron with the wit, intellect, moral veracity and genetic 
potential of a bivalve mollusc is entirely intensional or not as the case 
may be; period. 

By Watching this video {Insert name here} you are assumed to agree and 
fully support the to the following; a unanimous loss of all personal 
rights, privileges, privacies, personal data, medical history, 
embarrassing photographs, voting record, internet history and the 
complete exoneration of any persons associated with the University of 
Tyneside in any conceivable space, before, after or during any time 

No insult was intended to any Gods, God, Goddessess, Personal Deity, 
invisible friends; Divine, Celestial or Supreme Beings, Beings of 
light {excl. ectoplasm}; Members of the Heavenly hosts including 
‎Cherubs, Seraphs, ‎Archangels and Angels, {incl. Guardian}, Spirits, 
Demons {excl. personal}, {& excl. Ghosts & Jinns }, Avatars, Sages,  
Saints, Prophets {excl. Joseph Smith / Bob Dylan}, miscellaneous 
miraculously conceived Beings, real or imaginary.

09 December, 2019

i aten't dead . .

i aten't dead [1]
Many, many thanks to Mr Tobias Page and his team at the Freeman Hospital for saving my life, and all in Ward 2 who were responsible for my recovery.  For the record I am currently tubeless and functioning satisfactorily; longer term prospects are yet to determined, but I am expecting further surgery. 
My family have been a tremendous support and have rallied round magnificently.  A very special thanks to Z & C, and for all the messages of support from readers.
An uncertain future, combined with lying in a hospital ward for days and nights does incline one towards a degree of introspection.   I have have kept returning to a parting shot from my erstwhile Professor, Ian Haynes, that I needed to find different route to market.  As his institution had just relieved me of my life savings, my overdraft would not run to establishing my own University, so blogging became the simplest route to the world and the Theoretical Structural Archaeology blog was created on the 18th August 2008.
However, it is time to create a new and more direct route to market for this type of archaeology while I am still able.

Bitter Pill
While an understanding of the archaeology of structures based on maths and mechanics may seem perfectly rational there are special circumstances to take into account.
  1. The brutal reality is that certain individuals at Newcastle University with the tacit approval of others have ensured and will continue to ensure that my work cannot be accepted until I am dead.
  2. I cannot dumb the science down to the level Russell brand archaeology; thus, even my most basic methodological considerations have had to be peer reviewed in America. [2]
  3. If I write a book, there is a danger, however slight, that Universities might start selling my work to their students.
  4. My experience of "commercial archaeology" with Tyne & Wear Museums had convinced me, just as in education, cost was the only factor, quality, in the form of interpretation was an expensive luxury.
  5. Finally, as a local of the North East, I am not really expected to able to participate in higher education, and sadly, I am no longer young, attractive or fiscally solvent enough to be of interest to an academic.
Thus, at there age of 60 money, career, pensions and security are now meaningless concepts, and the future of my research brought into focus by the Big C.   Since my work is not be acceptable in any form while I am alive, I have decided in the future to concentrate on making videos.

Moving Pictures
Ironically, because no public money has been spent on this research, I can choose to provide it free in the form of video on a platform like YouTube. 
However, the biggest benefit is not being obliged to dumb it down, and being free to debunk costly courses and have some fun at their expense. Once something is “peer reviewed” is is fair game to be ridiculed; clever people supposedly took this seriously and read it prior to publication, perhaps even money changed hands.
There are three areas which I am drawn to, which mirror aspects of this blog;
  1. Methodology
  2. Specials – application of methodology
  3. Humour, reviews and stories

1. Understanding engineered archaeological structures
I have started the first part of the course on structural archaeology, the art is done and the script written, only the difficult bit of putting all together is left to do.
The research into the assembly of prehistoric timber structures is ongoing, and there are innumerable data sets on which ideas can be tested. Thus, while my interest lies in actually doing this work, I will have discipline myself to collating the ideas from the last 10 years of articles into a new and hopefully more coherent format.
Digital 3D archaeology; when I started using 3D CAD for archaeology in 1986 it was of little practical value, not only because the available PCs {80386} were too slow to run it, but, more fundamentally, being able to fit a cone on top of a cylinder and call it a roundhouse was meaningless. By the same token, the current ability to create very real virtual spaces does not necessarily serve the purposes of structural archaeology.

Architectural software, although predicated on the idea that architecture will be regular and rectilinear, can be used to create an engineering model that is accurate and can be tested. Also, creating “walk-through“ is an ideal way to explain the complex modelling required to interpret some of the larger archaeological structures. Despite remarkable rendering capabilities of modern software, this sort of structural archaeology does not view an imagined visual representation as the end product of an analysis.
The evidence can sustain reverse–engineered modelling, which may produce “alternatives”, but these archaeological data sets do not do self-portraits. [3]

2. Fun, fun, fun at the Horse Toilets [4]
The three part video on Hadrian’s Wall is very much a first attempt, it’s a relatively new media and I was still under-invested in technology.  While my work on the Roman Wall is an example of an evidenced based approach, it has become a time consuming distraction.
Writing a book has proved almost impossible because so little of the existing scholarship can be relied upon; often it is little more than a restatement of unverified ideas, some dating back to the dark ages. Unforgivably, given the range of modern techniques now available, some more modern efforts at archaeology, re even more hapless.   I am hoping to make a more succinct and technical discussion of this aspect of my research, as well as other “Specials”; however, my focus is methodology rather than application.

3. Whe’s wee’d in wor chips

Some of the ideas being peddled by Universities are so vacuous, that cartoons and humour are probably the easiest way of debunking this bunkum. I had fun dismantling the very silly BBC program History of Ancient Britain, featuring Neil Oliver intoning a particularly mindless linguistic salad.
In addition, perhaps as a result of a career in the commercial world, many of my encounters with academic and “commercial” archaeology stand out as weird, bizarre, and a little less than sane. All this lends itself to a more anecdotal and humour driven style of presentation; brief fireside chats, a light-hearted look at what some academics and archaeologists have been doing for their money.

Me journey . . . 
I was brought up in an education system which was evidenced based, and I had the privilege of being taught archaeology by archaeologists had had done some serious digging, admittedly, a lot of it they never wrote up, but that's another story.   My career in archaeology lasted little longer than a modest world war, and was ultimately cut short by being left a single parent with four children to support. 
Throwing my self on the mercy of the capitalist system, I started my own consultancy building applications and integrating data & telecoms platforms for business all over Northern Britain. With ISDN, the growth of call centres and the dominance of Windows based networking, these technologies were increasingly available out of the box, in addition, driving 50,000 miles a year eventually proved injurious to my health.
Computing had been transformed, and was now practical tool for this type of archaeology; Luckily, for twenty years I had continued to work on the issues of “assembly” critical for modelling, so I would have something structural to build.
Perusing these ideas with the decision to go all in financially and do PhD at Newcastle turned out to be life changing . Unfortunately, what I joined was a mire of mediaocracy and mendacity left following the mass resignation of the majority academic staff who moved to York.
It turned out, that higher education is the one industry where the customer has to carry the can; when I complained, my work was dismissed as worthless, without even the courtesy of reading it first. [5]
In any other sector the way I was treated would constitute false prospectus, conspiracy to defraud, fraud and theft, but in the post-truth zeitgeist of Arts Education loyalty is what matters.

Caveat Emptor
As a victim of the one sided conflict between my tutor’s imaginary past [6] and the evidence, I have had to live with consequences, watching the evil spread to my family and friends.  So, naturally, I will continue to advocate against this type stupidity and/or dishonesty in this new video format.
Hopefully, I can prevent some students wasting their money on this type of coprolite, by providing for free what Universities have proved incapable of providing at any price.


[1] Just look it up on google . . . 
[2] With Bill Kennedy in Redmond, Brian G,. Genheimer, Robert A., (Eds) 2015; Building the Past: Prehistoric Wooden Post Architecture in the Ohio Valley-Great Lake, University of Florida.
[3] Luckily, there is no shortage of experts on how prehistoric people viewed their imaginary landscapes in the academic sector.
[4 ]Auxiliary Barracks in a New Light: Recent Discoveries on Hadrian's Wall
N. Hodgson and P. T. Bidwell, Britannia Vol. 35 (2004), pp. 121-157
[5] Even the Post-graduate Dean, supposedly an adult in the room, was apparently  too poorly educated, duplicitous, or both to understand that how people who left no records perceived buildings that we have never seen is not a real thing; it is not archaeology, is borderline necromancy.  Purporting to communicate with the Dead is regarded as fraudulent under the law, particularly, since the Witchcraft Act of 1735, but more recently, following losses of WW2, by the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act, [replaced by EU Consumer Protection Regulations in May 2008].
[6] Dr Jane Webster Newcastle University's expert in Iron Age Building Cosmology.

24 October, 2019

New Season Preview - An introduction to Theoretical Archaeology of Timber Structures.

As a result of having go under the knife tomorrow, I have not been able to finish Part 1 of my New Video Series.  
 An introduction to Theoretical Archaeology of Timber Structures.
So here is a preview; the delay was in no way related to the time taken to make the Intro & Outro Sequence.
[Parkinson's Law [of Delay]. 'Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.' Cyril Northcote Parkinson 1957].
Thanks to family and friends for all the support.

Coming Soon . . . . 

18 September, 2019

Understanding Hadrian's Wall ~ Part III ~ The Hidden Disaster Video . . .

Please excuse the delay, Part III has been on adventure, it disappeared off on a weeks unscheduled leave to digital Neverland.
The Theoretical Structural Archaeology data centre asynchronous binary server farm suffered a failure - a real black screen job.  There are some things in life you can't fix with a trowel or a hammer. However, as a result of my misspent midlife in the real world, my little dark grey Chinese friend now has a new hard disc, and is now operating in new two digit windows environment, which is shedding new light on an old, and as it turns out,  somewhat incompatible system.
To cut a long and stressful week short, all was recovered and rehoused to a new Seagate home with a new windows to look out of by 5.20 am on the Sunday of the following week.
I can only apologise for the quality, particularly the sound, hopefully, this and other technical issues have been addressed.

In the future, I may re-edit these first three this as a single more succinct video, as well as producing a more technical [ / more boring] video about the archaeology of the Wall.

Hopefully, we can get on with some videos about prehistoric buildings, and how this conflicts with the views of the imaginary people interacting the imaginary landscapes in the imagination of academics.  Walk through 3d graphics don't work well in PPS.
I would like to thank my family, and friends, particularly Andy and Raph for their support, even Guy Opperman, for at least being prepared to listen, although Heritage & Higher Education hardly registers MP's corruption radar.
Special Thanks to The Beacon Club, Hexham.

Burnt Bridges
 I do now have a Macmillan nurse and a couple operations coming up soon, so it was important for me to stake a claim to these ideas because Jane Webster and Neill Marshall have ensured they cannot be accepted while I am alive. Thanks to Prof Andrew for explaining the facts of death to my Mother, she now understands this is the only way forward for my work.
I wanted to go into full on iconoclastic mode, but I have railed about duplicitous mendacious academics completely unconscious of their own conceits, and the decent of another institution into the post-truth zeitgeist, many times before.  After all, power, without the freedom to abuse it, is just a responsibility, which is why allowing universities a monopoly and their staff a job for life has been a disaster for archaeology.
I hope this video demonstrates, that while narratives may appear credible to the school leavers, the most credulous of whom will go on teach them, a lot of what you are sold by universities can be debunked in short order by a return to a traditional evidence based approach to archaeology.
Caveat Emptor

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Aviam, Mordechai. 2007, The archaeological illumination of Josephus’ narrative of the battles at Yodefat and Gamla.
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On Line
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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4d/Via_Munita.png Roman Road; Via Munita [from Smith, W. 1875. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. John Murray, London.
This Video uses based on images from Google Earth: http://www.google.com/earth/index.html 

* * * * * * *
  Special Guest  Non-appearance
Courtesy of Tyne & Wear Museums 
~ Horse Toilets  ~

Hodgson N. & Bidwell P. T. Auxiliary Barracks in a New Light: Recent 
Discoveries on Hadrian's Wall.   Britannia Vol. 35 (2004), pp. 121-157

Truly this is the death of reason 
& the most fantastic  thing ever 
published in a peer reviewed journal

R.I.P Britannia 

The Journal of Romano-British and Kindred Horse Sanitation Studies

02 August, 2019

Understanding Hadrian's Wall part II - Building a Myth in Video Form

This is part 2 of the video version of my Understanding  Hadrian's Wall talk, available locally on request, free to a good home.
Hopefully, some of the technical aspects have improved over part 1.
A brief summary of part 1 is accompanied by mildly banging music, despite the risks inherent risks in raising expectations on raising peoples expectations.
This will probably be cut down to become an standard intro to any future TSA videos.
The third part of Understanding Hadrian's Wall ~ The Hidden Disaster will have a full list of credits etc. It may even be possible to create a final summary video that runs for a modest length of time - with the mistakes taken out, and a more even quality.
The intended audience of the original talks, the passing trade at The Twice Brewed Inn, could not be assumed to have any detailed background in the archaeology of the period, so it was important the establish the geographical, social and historical background.

If directed at archaeology students or enthusiasts, it can be done in an hour, although 20 minute conference slot is a waste of time, unless you go full on blitzkrieg mode.  Unfortunately, the inherent scepticism of the scientific and evidence based reasoning of Structural Archaeology is not always welcome in an environment where people have job for life in a monopoly and are judged by their conformity, and their knowledge of Latin, not soil science.

Many thanks again to Andy for his continued support and patience - I will return to proper archaeology soon, and leave the Imperialist pig-dogs with their regular buildings and running water - what did they ever do for us?

07 July, 2019

Understanding Hadrian's Wall in slowly moving pictures with sound

 A recent episode of illness, has made me reconsider my route to market and the future of this blog.  I have been working on a book, but the complexities of 3D modelling are not well suited to text.
However, there is another darker issue; my work will not be accepted while I am alive.
As a result of my year as a postgrad at Newcastle University, the use of engineering to understand the archaeology of engineered structures, and more specifically, in this case Hadrian’s Wall, has been ruled worthless and without value, although it might have been considered a courtesy to have read it first. However, in a mindless dystopian world governed by a code academic omertà, I am now verboten, persona non grata, outcast in a vale of tribulation and mixed metaphor. 
Having been sentenced to a life of the living dead, where only my demise will make this form evidence acceptable, I not going to pull any punches.
If, in less than an hour, you can deconstruct a course that costs students hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, discouraging people waste their money studying archaeology at these bottom feeding Russel brand universities is a public service. 
If, as in this case, people are being charged real money for a bunch of ill-assorted ideas that were nonsense when they dreamt up by medieval monks and Victorian gentlemen, but have been passed on for generations with all the credulous zeal and fact checking of a medieval scriptorium, - don’t expect acquiescence from any archaeologist with a passing acquaintance with soil science.
I am starting with the Hadrian’s Wall, as it is relatively simple archaeology, and while much of the contemporary narrative is immutable balderdash, it can’t hold a candle to imaginary ritual landscape that illuminates contemporary British Prehistory, a topic I have promised [Andy] to return to. 
While I was confined to YouTube by illness, I was amazed to discover that ancient civilisations of pyramid builders had been found on Mars and well as under the Ice Caps, just one of the many things that archaeologists like me have been keeping secret. I must have had a stroke and forgotten everything.   But then again, someone taught the Sumerians to use Tablets several millennia before the advent of the Samsung Galaxy - it makes you think, or why else would tens of thousands of people rush to watch these videos within hours of them being posted……..
..  So I resolved to find some eccentric item of dress, perhaps a hat, rent the whole wall of books, liberally sprinkle it with extraneous exotic artefacts, perhaps a weapon or two, and a model of Stonehenge descending from the ceiling surrounded by dancing …….
….. After I recovered sufficiently from whatever pestilence was attacking my temporal gland, I decided it would be best if I reproduced the talk that I was giving on The Wall last year at the Twice Brewed Inn.  I already had the slides, so there was no reason for me to become visually involved, that’a a treat reserved for the real people who come to the real thing, and not something to expose to all the imaginary virtual people on YouTube.  
All you have to do is keep talking for 60 minutes without making too many mistakes, while recording it to a reasonable standard, and after all, people who have time to find pyramid shaped rocks on Mars seem to manage it, so how hard could it be?
The creative process has been interesting, in its most ironic and antonymous sense,or so my Production Executive Tiny informs me, although he is partial to a good animation.  We have been learning together, so hopefully, future output ~ Parts 2 & 3, will be of a more consistent standard and quicker to produce.
The video aims to explain Hadrian’s attempt to build his Wall, using the very latest structural research and modelling. This is the first instalment of a three part presentation originally intended for people from all over the world who come to walk the Wall.  Therefore, it assumes little prior knowledge, and is a general introduction to Hadrian & the Romans in the North of Britain in the period 122 ~ 138.
In this introduction, I have to cover much well trodden ground, but as a general rule, I don’t want to waste time telling you what you could read in any guide book.
It lasts 37 minutes; there are no sweeping shots of the modern landscape peppered with snow, accompanying blaring trumpets heralding marching feet, and a booming voice telling you about a distant frontier of the greatest empire the world has ever hyperbolised - that’s all on order with the shed load of books, the sharp suit and the eye-catching neckwear.
So look out for more video content on my new YouTube Channel;