28 March, 2014

#BlogArch – Where is it all leading?

Over at Doug’s Archaeology Blog the final question for next month’s #blogarch SAA session on blogging is where are you going with blogging or would you it like to go? 
While having spent half my lifetime working on this methodology, I have always had an end in mind, but what I have deduced from this research was utterly unexpected. The ideal end product was always envisaged as a 3D CAD model, and the internet is now the obvious place to present one. But, to cut to the chase, the core of the issue is Peer Review; While it is technically possible to publish a 3D presentation on the internet, how do you peer review a CAD Model?
While Universities are the natural forum for research, reverse engineering structures was never going to work at a zombie department like Newcastle who had even thrown their CAD system away; and my work was branded worthless by their “cosmologist”.  [Caveat emptor]
Ironically, the subsequent decision to blog my research made it worthless, for nothing provided for free has value in terms of the academic system.  Furthermore, it had become apparent that any research that challenges the existing commercial narrative will never be supported by any of the existing stakeholders.
Originally, Iron Age Roundhouses were a key focus, but since most people imagine they have seen one, this is probably now beyond rational redemption.  However, blogging has allowed me to follow a variety of entirely different routes, and to challenge the rationality aspects of peer reviewed Roman archaeology.  The idea of peer review is that it is a firewall that keeps the nonsense out, although in reality it can serve to protect and perpetuate the nonsense already inside.

Quick Case Study; The Archaeology of Stupid Scottish People
As a result of my work on Hadrian's Timber Wall, a colleague sought my opinion on the "Lilia" at Rough Castle, a Roman Fort on the Antonine Wall in Scotland,  I was not entirely convinced, but I have reserved judgment, - for several years.
In this context "Lilia" were small conical pits, [the shape of a lily's flower], no more than a foot in diameter containing a tightly bedded sharpened stake. To work they had to be small, round and concealed; NOT large, rectangular, and visible on Google Earth as at Rough Castle. While  there are dozens of references to timber ramparts, redoubts and similar structures, which are even illustrated on Trajan’s Column, Lilia  is a word used only once in this type of context, and then only as part an narrative of exceptional situation.
So these are NOT "Lilia" and never could be,  in addition, the idea that attacking Scots could be stopped by, or be compelled to fall into a series large rectangular pits is utterly disingenuous to the intelligence of both parties.  Just how stupid were these peer reviewed Scots? 
Maths v 'Peer review' Archaeology
My own solution, a third version, as yet unfinished, already has 2050 individual placed components, perhaps 3000 when finished , and may be presented in a future post. 
In terms of modeling it is laborious, but technically simple compared with a building.  While I am happy it is accurate within predefined parameters, it raises questions which frankly, I can’t answer, and as yet, others have little interest asking. 

Questions such as;
  • How can a CAD model be published?
  • What sort of virtual environment should it be present it in?
  • How much maths is enough to prove a point?  
  • Who is going to check the fit of all the components?
  • Can it be peer reviewed?

I am Blogging TSA as a legacy project, it is free, of zero value, and yet it can be accurate to six inches, if anyone cares to measure it.  So while I will never quite know where I am going, or who is along for the ride, – I do know, fairly precisely, how I am going to get there.  


Austin Kinsley said...

Where are you going with your blogging ?. A good question for me to contemplate, as I launched a blog into the digiverse three weeks ago yesterday .A structured conversation with myself, a repository for all the scrappy notes on random pieces of paper and in lever arch files that I have accumulated over many years.The beginning of a journey to learn more of early British history .It is not about regurgitating what has been said by others many times before to fill space , but a place to develop my own thinking. A place maybe to be corrected when my words are clearly wrong .My focus is to know as truth of our ancestors as far as that is possible thousands of years later from the limited viewpoint of what can be observed today .
As for plans for my blogging , Mike Tyson once said everyone has a plan until they are smacked in the face , so I hope to keep an open mind and see where it takes me .
It keeps me out of the pub as well !

Geoff Carter said...

Hi Austin, thanks for joining in, I think you have made a very interesting start over at http://silent-earth.co.uk/
I am looking forward to see where you end up.

Every journey starts with a single step, as Iron Mike did not say.

Austin Kinsley said...

Thank you for the kind words Geoff. Your numerical based no nonsense approach is a good foil for my own innate cultural prejudices that naturally warm to the lexicon of sacred earth.

I thought post processural was something to do with the Avenue at Stonehenge before I discovered your TSE blog. Thank you for the education , and perhaps even understanding my own cultural baggage a little more .

Geoff Carter said...

Hi Austin,

... .White man he come with metal and wound the earth Kemosabe. as Tonto might say.
Cultural prejudice is a many-splendored thing

In Archaeology, and its offshoot history, while not blessed with great resources, but it does inspire enthusiasm and interest. I think you will find that the entry level for research is not high, and the gaps in our knowledge limitless. Acceptance is something else, but that should not be why you do it, otherwise you produce nothing new, cast your bread upon the cloud, and your audience will find you, although they might be ducks.
Archaeology has only recently become “commercial”, but it still offers very poor employment prospects and career development. I was never at any stage in my career paid the starting salary of a teacher. In addition, university students are often taught by staff, that have themselves been there since they left school, so the overall standard of Archaeology GB is not high, accept in very specific and technical areas. As result we are constantly reinventing the wheel; imagine you laid off most of your guys once the “financial year” was over!
What I am saying is, there is not the time, money or expertise available to do research, leaving plenty of opportunity for individuals to make a significant contribution.
PS. I am still thinking about the plaque, - leather working – but why not wood?

Austin Kinsley said...

Hi Geoff , I do have a cousin who is an archeologist and seems to earn a living ok from it. Her specialism is around Mediterranean bronze age weaving and fabrics and unfortunately far removed from my own interest in ancient British History primarily up to around 2500BC.
I have seen the plaques in the new Stonehenge visitor centre and was struck by how small they were . Small but thick ( seven sixteenths of an inch thick ),which makes me wonder if they would have been strong enough to withstand leather or metal working due to the brittleness of the chalk . Similar incisions (particularly the 'angular meander ' have been etched in chalk elsewhere and after I have pinned down and digested the original dig reports I am looking forward to exploring this further .
The next post I am working on is the much overlooked Stonehenge stage 1 pit clusters and post structures and what these smallish wooden structures could have been used for .
Any thoughts appreciated?

What sort of native American structures have you been looking at? I have read of the Sun Lore of the Native Americans and it was fascinating to read of the sun creation myths as each tribe had there own myth . Any way , its late and I have to be careful not to go all sacred earth on you , so I'm off .

Austin Kinsley said...

Sorry , typo above, woodworking not metalworking . Even with my limited knowledge , I am aware that it is beyond the realms of possibility that metalworking would have been happening on Salisbury plain around 2900BC .

Geoff Carter said...

Hi Austin,
Re Plaque; I blew it up and too a very close look; I don't think it related to metal because the incisions are in the surface of the chalk; which suggested leather tooling where the tool would piece the leather.
If you look at the Bush Barrow / related gold material the techniques are clear; the use of dots to layout / trace the pattern is distinctive, {paper on this somewhere}; I can detect dots as well as the marks of several individual tools. I would advise going for the forensic at this stage.

Stonehenge . . . . . . .

I have defined 2 timber buildings at Stonehenge, the later phase was a rebuild with wall and stanchions, I have given no thought to the interior posts with the Sarsens.
Beyond that it's law of diminishing returns;way too much money and ego at stake, I am not interested unless someone pays me [danger money]; Maths is never going to cut any ice with "you can't put a roof on the Sky" brigade, or the stone/death wood/life simpletons.
British prehistory seems to revolve around around unique monument that we don't understand, and in that way it has becomes a faith based study - focused on a central mystery.
You don't pick a fight with that sort of institution and expect to make any progress. Tell them their ancestors had "stairs" and they are shocked; increasingly so am I!

Oh & don't forget Stonehenge was built by the Cowboys, not the Indians, and was probably rebuilt by some Carpetbaggers.

Austin Kinsley said...

Hi Geoff ,
I can now see the dots close to the outside edge of the Bush barrow Lozenge thanks .On the main plaque close to one edge particularly, the regularly spaced incisions almost look like calibration marks along an incised straight line running the entire length. The dates are somewhat different, the plaque being 2900BC to 2580 BC per EH and the lozenge around 2000 BC . The plaques were found with a few sherds of grooved ware .
Once I receive the high res images
I will investigate further and incise chalk myself with different implements.Thanks for the pointer .

It is the interior posts and NE entrance posts from around 3000BC (before your buildings ) I am looking at , which I appreciate may well be far from complete and not capable of being subjected to the rigors of your own investigatory process . The sarsen stone phase takes the lions share of the obsessive attention bestowed upon SH and the post holes , some of which may have formed smallish wooden structures
have been overlooked in what may have been around 300 to 500 years of the history of the site .My interest in SH is primarily the early phases before the sarsen stones were erected .The final echo's of an earlier history of our land and before the beaker ware crew arrived ...I am heading in a Sacred Earth direction again here , so I better sign off . Thanks again for your ear .

Geoff Carter said...

Re; Sh Entrance structures; I have looked at them briefly, and I 'suspect' 2 phases of entrance with a general form of a 3 portal entrance, they line up with the main timber building phases.
Note the 4 posts a little further out [equidistant] from the main concentration; I think they hint at the form of the main entrance; 3 doors ? Certainly something to think about in terms of temple design.
You asked about American buildings - I hope to find the time to work on my model of Edwin Harness, a structure which has much you would find to interesting.

Austin said...

Hi Geoff, I hope you are well. Thank you for your thought provoking observations above. The entrance post holes vary considerably in diameter and depth. Holes 33 , 37 and 44 (44 South of the main grouping) are particularly wider than the main body of post holes.
Any thoughts as to why there is such a variation?

ornate splendor said...

Austin, thank you for your comment about the family bible on my blog. I had wondered how I could go about getting the bible records to the family. How would I go about listing that on Ancestry.com? Would I need an account with them? I have kept all of the writing of the records of births, marriages, etc. any advice would be appreciated. thank you.

Austin said...

Organic Splendor, there must be an electronic gremlin at work here, as I have not visited your blog before viewing the comment above today. I hope you do locate the correctly intended recipient of your comment.