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.


Odin's Raven said...

I'm glad that you are back, and still determined. Maybe it would be wise to seek pastures new. Your knowledge of Roman military wall building might be useful in the USA; possibly in a profitable advisory position if the President ever gets his generals to obey his order to build a wall! Less facetiously, the Americans seem to like 'genuine reconstructions', and a section of Hadrian's Wall in an American desert could give many of them better information at less expense than visiting the original.

While you were sick, there was a TV programme featuring aerial views of the wall. It would not have improved your health to hear the vallum described as 'an additional defence'. Accept that long after you are dead the media and academia will still be purveying misconceptions. However, it may also be true that 'science progresses one funeral at a time' and that the best revenge may be a long and active life influencing fresh minds elsewhere.

Geoff Carter said...

Thanks for the good wishes. I am rather tied to this area - Family commitments; YouTube might be regarded as pastures new!
I had a go at the American Wall issue earlier this year;

Trump is an extraordinary spectacle, quite outstanding, if only it wasn't real.

Odin's Raven said...

Here's a site which may be of interest to you:

The author supposes that ancient people turned to making woodhenges as their climate deteriorated, and that they had burning platforms on top of the trilithons in an attempt to revive the apparently dying sun. They also seem to have used flint axes as expensive firecrackers.

I hope that you have had a pleasant Christmas and New Year.