Archives for September, 2008

The Journal of the North Atlantic

The Journal of the North Atlantic is a new on-line archaeology and environmental-history journal published in Maine. You can apply for a login and read it for free until the end of the year. So far, they have three papers up, and they offer some really cool stuff. One is an apparently nature-deterministic GIS study…

Anthro Blog Carnival

The forty-ninth Four Stone Hearth blog carnival is on-line at A Hot Cup of Joe. Archaeology and anthropology, and all intended to recreate the lost 1921 short drama film The Great Day! Cast Arthur Bourchier – Sir John Borstwick Mary Palfrey – Lady Borstwick Marjorie Hume – Clara Borstwick Bertram Burleigh – Frank Beresford Adeline…

Following the Letter of the Law

I recently read this year’s Hugo-winning novel, Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. (Getting it sent to my local branch library from Malmö cost me one euro!) It’s a hard-boiled detective story set in an alternative present where Israel was squashed by irate Arab neighbours in 1948 and much of the world’s surviving Jewry ended…

Radiocarbon Dating Ancient Grease

20 years ago, radiocarbon dating was transformed by the widespread adoption of AMS analysis, accelerator mass spectroscopy. Willard Libby’s original scintillation-counting method demanded large sample sizes and a lot of time per sample. The sample size meant that many interesting things couldn’t be dated at all, and that once you had gotten a large enough…

“Sapiens” Is Not A Plural

We interrupt this broadcast to explain something to everybody who has ever used the expression “a homo sapien”. Sapiens is not a plural. It is an adjective ending in an S, just like erectus, afarensis and neanderthalensis. (It means “wise”.) You would never say “a homo erectu”, right? Don’t try to learn Latin from Del…

The Copper Mine of Falun

The 1640 coin I found the other day came to light at an opportune moment. For some time, my wife and I had planned a trip to Falun for the weekend just passed, and that’s where the coin is from. The great copper mine of Falun was an important part of Sweden’s economic backbone during…

Djurhamn Sword Measured

To compensate for our inadequacies, us boy archaeologists like to search for large phallic objects and measure them. The most extreme case I’ve heard of was a couple of colleagues who went looking for the crash site of a mismanoeuvred 14-meter V2 rocket. In my case it’s the 16th-century Djurhamn sword. All 93 centimetres of…

Swedish Pitfalls

Swedish has a number of subtleties designed to keep furriners from learning the language of glory and heroes™. A famous one is the genders of our nouns, where almost every one is either of our two neutral genders — apparently haphazardly selected. Another one is certain non-trivial uses of the definite article suffix: you can’t…

Swedes Produce Hot Water, Dump It Into Sea

For historical reasons having nothing to do with engineering or rationality, Swedish nuclear power plants dump a lot of warm cooling water into the sea. In a revealing blog entry, Paddy K offers an estimate of just how much energy that cooling water contains. It’s one third of the energy produced in the country. I…

Queen Christina’s Quarter Coin Again

Yesterday I did two hours of metal-detecting at a manor in Boo parish whose documentary evidence starts in the 13th century. Ancient monuments in the vicinity take it on down at least to the 10th. There are some nice 16th century small finds from the manor grounds, and my visit was intended to follow up…