Category Archives: Digital Archaeology/Arqueoloxía Dixital

Podcast Library (I):

As I mentioned some days ago in a previous post, this has been the year of the podcasts for me. Not that I did not know them before, but only at the very last months of the dissertation I was able to find in (a lot of) them the distraction I needed. I know it is paradoxical to claim that I found distraction of a dissertation on archaeology by listening to podcasts on archaeology, but I can only plead that they are also very funny! So I thought I could make a list of my, so far, favorite ones. If you are looking for something to listen to, I hope this list can give you some good ideas!

1.- Archaeological Fantasies:

This is by far my favorite podcast, and in fact I already wrote a previous post on it. The aim of this show, led by Sara Head with Ken Feder (my idol on fighting pseudoarchaeology) and Jeb Carb as regular hosts, is to dismantle all pseudoarchaeological and fringe theories regarding the human past. And the list is quite long… In the over 100 episodes so far they have covered some of the most common, as well as the least-known, topics on the fringe such as my beloved Atlantis, the dark side of archaeogenetics, the myth of the European mound-builders, the solutrean hypothesis, archaeoastronomy and Göbekli Tepe… The list is endless! And it is still very active. For me it is very useful to listen to some educated voices that dismantle piece by piece all these fringe perspectives in archaeology and anthropology. Even more importan, they make very clear the dark sides of many of these pseudotheories, such as their inherent racism, male whitewashing, and postcolonialism.

2.- The Fall of Rome:

This podcast came as a great surprise, and it is a pity no more episodes are available. Patrick Wyman presents in 21 episodes a brilliant narrative about the collapse of the Roman Empire, a fascinating period that does not usually receive the attention it deserves. Cultural misconceptions of decay and collapse, rather than change and innovation, that overemphasize the classical world lost over the new political entities being created makes the 4th to 6th c. CE less attractive to the general public, and let us be honest to many scholars too, than the heyday of the Roman Republic and Empire between the 2 c. BCE and the 2c. CE. History, archaeology, climate science, network models… are all brought together to explain this historical event beyond the pillaging, bloodshed, and civilization vs. barbarism that characterizes old narratives. As I said, pity we have no more episodes. A must listened to.

3.- Myth and Legends:

This is undoubtedly one of the largest podcasts out there. It may come as a surprise to some of you that I am including it in this list. Obviously, it is not a podcast on archaeology explicitly, but it covers in its now over 130 episodes legends and myths from many cultures we usually perceive as archaeology research topics. This is not quite my favorite way of approaching this field of folklore, probably because my wider anthro training makes me have a more flexible interpretation of what I mean by archaeology. Myths and legends, past and present, are important elements of cultural identity and transmission, that is why I perceive them, at least in my mind, as part of my archaeology prism. Anyway, a lot of episodes on Herakles and Ragnar Lothbrok!

4.- The History of Exploration:

As opposed to the Fall of Rome, which covered in the end the complete temporal framework of its topic, this podcast intended to present all humankinds’ history of discovering the world, but stopped after 9 episodes with the explorations of Polybius. A real pity, because the material we have available is very interesting, and I confess I discovered a great deal of information on early Greek and Punic travels to sub-Saharan Africa I was not aware of.

5.- This is not exactly a podcast in archaeology. Well, it is not at all. But due to my research with divers I presume I cannot avoid including it here. The idea of the podcast is rather simple: to interview for about an hour very big names in the sport of freediving. It is very interesting to me, as an amateur freediver who got into the sport as a way of exploring a research topic, to find all the different ways of facing freediving, from pure sport/competition/results based mentality to something that, sometimes, gets very close to a spiritual movement. For me it is fascinating how an activity practiced all around the world and across time for, mostly, harvesting the sea, has become at the same time a hypermetric sport and a new age-influenced movement. Perhaps this podcast is too specific for anybody not interested in the sport, but I can assure you that it is a more fascinating topic that you may think at first!

O Xogo Archaeoquiz en Scratch

Coma comentara fai uns días, unha das últimas tolerías que tiven implica a creación dun xogo de preguntas sobre arqueoloxía usando Scratch. Trátase dunha linguaxe de codificación que usa bloques pra crear pequenos programas, e estou a usar programas no senso más respectuoso posible, porque levoume bastante tempo ser capaz de codificar algo tan sinxelo coma este xogo. A inspiración pra esta creación viño da preparación por parte da miña parella Elena do exame de Psicóloga Interna Residente (PIR). Ela creou infinidade de post-its con pequenas notas en diferentes temas que ela revisaba dilixentemente cada noite. O contido deste exame PIR inclúe todo texto publicado en lingua castelá sobre psicoloxía, asi que imaxinade a extensión de coñecemento requirido pra tarefa.Elena's wall of awesomeness

A pesares do criticismo xeral sobre o coñecemento enciclopédico en arqueoloxía, sempre pensei que un bo arqueólogo e unha boa arqueóloga deben de transcender os límites dos seus campos de estudo. Inda que é virtualmente imposible saber todo en arqueoloxía, iso non debería de quitarnos de ler sobre temas ou rexións fora dos nosos campos de estudo. Eu traballo en cerámica grega, polo que non estou a suxerir que podo chegar a ser un experto en zooarqueoloxía só tras ler uns libros e artigos no tema, pero facelo de tanto en tanto axúdame a entender mellor o traballo ds meus colegas, e iso nunca fai mal. Moitas veces teño atopado investigadores que non ven o valor do meu traballo ou simplemente o descartan polo uso que dou aos coñecementos adquiridos dos estudios cerámicos sobre outras culturas. E iso a pesares de que. Más aló da cultura, os mesmos problemas químicos, e as súas solucións, son comúns a moitas culturas. Está fora de debate que ler sobre outras tradicións cerámicas resultou esencial por me traballo de tese.

Type of Scratch Question

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Archaeoquiz Game in Scratch

As I mentioned some days ago, one of the latest crazy ideas I have had involves the creation of a quiz game on archaeology using Scratch. This is a coding language that uses blocks to create little programs, and I am using little in the most respectful sense, because it has taken me quite a deal of time to be able to code something as simple as this game. The inspiration for its creation came from my partner Elena’s preparation of her residency exam in psychology (PIR). She created countless post-its with little notes on different topics that she diligently reviewed every night. The content of this PIR exam includes any single thing ever published in Spanish about psychology, so you can imagine the extent of knowledge required for the task.

Elena's wall of awesomeness

Despite general criticism in encyclopedic knowledge in archaeology, I have always taught that a good archaeologist must transcend the limits of its field of study. Although it is virtually impossible to know everything about everything in archaeology, that should not prevent us from just reading on topics or regions that are not our own research interest. I work on Greek pottery, so I am not suggesting I can become an expert on zooarchaeology just by reading a paper or a book, but doing so from time to time will allow me to understand better the work of my colleagues, and that never hurts. Many times I have met researchers that did not see the value or directed disagreed with me because of the use I give on my own work of pottery studies from other cultures, despite the fact that, regardless of the culture, the same chemical problems, and solutions, are crosscultural. It is beyond question that reading about other pottery traditions has been invaluable on my dissertation research.

Type of Scratch Question

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Rome, A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City

As you may remember from a former post, I have been researching lately on MOOCs and the role they can play in the communication of archaeology to larger audiences. In a paper I have recently published I concluded that, if well designed and maintained through time, MOOCs can be an incredibly engaging learning experience. I have enjoyed that research so much that I decided to keep taking and reviewing MOOCs on archaeology and anthropology, not necessarily for a new paper, although you never know, but for this blog. Thus, today I am presenting you with a MOOC that I have finished a couple of days ago and that is one of the best I have ever taken: Rome, A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City, from University of Reading in the platform FutureLearn.

Cover image from the course.

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Archaeological Fantasies

I am sharing with you today a great discovery I made a couple of days ago while searching the web for my studies on archaeological outreach. The name is Archaeological Fantasies, a blog started in 2011 and with an associated podcast since 2015. Awesome. Just fantastic. The main goal of the blog and the podcast is to explain from a scientific and easy to understand perspective many of the fantasies defended by pseudoarchaeology, showing how research in done in archaeology and why many of these conspiracy theories cannot be taken seriously at all.

The hosts are Serra Zander and Prof. Kenneth Feder. I discovered Zander’s fascinating work through the blog. It is just incredible. The reviews of pseudoarchaeological books she posts are amazing, beautifully written and plenty of citations to articles that provide the data to support its arguments. In fact, the quality of this research and the fact that is posted in a blog, which is great, but does not have a parallel presence in academic journals, has reinforced some of the ideas I have defended in a recent paper: we should take this topic much more seriously. Ignoring it is not working at all.

With regard to Prof. Feder, he is one of my favourites on this topic. I discovered him in a couple of episodes of Horizon where Atlantologists ideas were reviewed and put to the test, a test they obviously failed. Then I found that he has been actively publishing on these topics for a while, with two books on Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, and Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology: From Atlantis to the Walam Olum. I am afraid that they are right now a little bit expensive for me to buy them right now, but if they are half good the arguments he defends in other places, such as these podcasts, I am sure they will be fantastic readings.

I have just listened to the last episode and a bunch of the early ones, so I cannot have an opinion for every single podcast made. But I love them. The clear way in which our job is explained should in fact be a model for us all, since, whether we like it or not, we are all confronted from time to time to some of the same questions the hosts mention, for example, in the same episode. Like them, I got interested in pseudoarchaeology as some kind of hobby/secondary stuff I file from time to time whenever they cross my way, and like them too I have become more and more active on the topic due to the empowerment and legitimization the media has given to pseudoscience in the last years.