Friday, May 28, 2010

Robin Hood's caves?

The latest in a long sequence of Robin Hood movies is out. I used to watch the tv show (the old one from the 50s with that memorable theme song, not the recent British series) when I was a kid, but I can't really say I am an afficionado of the movie genre. (Although, I am sympathetic with taking from the rich and giving to the poor.)

The Nottingham Caves Survey is the first part of the Caves  of Nottingham Regeneration Project (CoNoRP). This is a  two-and-a-half year project funded by the Greater  Nottingham Partnership, East Midlands Development  Agency, English Heritage, the University of Nottingham  and Nottingham City Council.  The project intends to take a fresh look at Nottingham’s  caves and encourage the City and its visitors to appreciate  the caves for the unique historical resource they are.  The Nottingham Caves Survey will build on the work of  British Geological Survey in the 1980s. The BGS Register of  Caves documented all known  caves in Nottingham. We will revisit all caves listed in the  Register and update the information about those caves.  All caves that can be physically accessed will be surveyed  with a 3D laser scanner, producing a full measured record  of the caves in three dimensions. This ‘point cloud’ of  millions of individual survey points can be cut and sliced  into plans and sections, ‘flown through’ in short videos,  and examined in great detail either on the web through  the TruView Internet Explorer plug-in or on a fixed PC  with suitable software.

The graphics are really nice.  Here is an example:

Maybe the Hood was hiding in there somewhere?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New journal offer for SAS members

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, a new journal from Springer, covers the full spectrum of natural scientific methods with an emphasis on the archaeological contexts and the questions being studied. It bridges the gap between archaeologists and natural scientists providing a forum to encourage the continued integration of scientific methodologies in archaeological research.

This jounral is now available to SAS members for an annual discounted rate of $40 US.  You can pay using PayPal through the SAS website. An email will shortly be sent to members with instructions how to pay by check. This payment will only be recorded if you are already an SAS member, or pay the $20 membership at the same time.

Coverage in the journal includes: archaeology, geology/geophysical prospection, geoarchaeology, geochronology, palaeoanthropology, archaeozoology and archaeobotany, genetics and other biomolecules, material analysis and conservation science.

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences is also endorsed by the German Society of Natural Scientific Archaeology and Archaeometry (GNAA), the Hellenic Society for Archaeometry (HSC) and the Association of Italian Archaeometrists (AIAr).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Caracol Lidar survey

The paper that has excited me the most at the International Symposium on Archaeometry this week in Tampa is:

The application of airborne LiDAR to an ancient Maya landscape
Chase, Arlen F.; Chase, Diane; Weishampel, John
University of Central Florida

This technology has been around, but this application hit me over the head as a stunning application to archaeology.

This (coincidentally) was in the session I co-organized on Field Methods, which used to contain many archaeological geophysics papers, but now has more of a mix, as the geophysics papers seem to be going to other venues.

The work of the Chases and colleagues at Caracol (source of photo) was nicely described this week in a New York Times article. I'd like to think the story was picked up from the ISA.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Taylor poster award winners at the SAA

R.E. (Erv) Taylor is emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California at Riverside. He was a co-founder SAS, SAS Newsletter editor, SAS President, and SAS General Secretary from 1981-2002. He was the winner of the 2004 Fryxell Award for Interdisciplinary Research of the Society for American Archaeology, in recognition of the outstanding contributions in the development and application of radiocarbon dating to archaeological research.

SAS president Lopez Varella is  pleased to announce and to congratulate the winners of the R. E. Taylor Poster Award at the SAA 75th Anniversary Meeting in St Louis, MO.: 

Elizabeth Sonnenburg, Joseph Boyce, Eduard Reinhardt and Aubrey Cannon. "Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction and Water-Level Fluctuations: Implications for Understanding of Paleoindian and Archaic Archaeology in Southern Ontario". 

Dana Rosenstein and James Feathers. "Luminescence Dating of Samples from Recent Contexts in South Africa".

Both students will receive a free subscription to our SAS Bulletin and a $100 US bonus.

For more than a decade, receiving the Taylor Award has enhanced the career of those who are now prominent young scholars and professionals.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Notes from SAS get-together during SAA

Minutes from the SAS General Meeting
75 SAA Annual Meeting (April 14-18, 2010, St. Louis, MO)
Sandra L. López Varela

First, I would like to acknowledge that we had a full room of attendees. During our meeting, I indicated that we have reached a point in which a decision needs to be made, whether SAS should become a formal professional association and leave behind its voluntary status, given the series of events taking place in our surroundings and the trajectory these are shaping for SAS. It was recommended that we should position ourselves as a professional association but structural and organizational changes need to take place that need to be discussed.

Taylor Poster Award 2010
I am pleased to announce that Elizabeth Sonnenburg and Dana Rosenstein have both been awarded the R. E. Taylor Poster Award at the SAA 75th Anniversary Meeting in St Louis, MO.

Membership Development
As of April 15th, Dr. Michael Gregg has officially become our new Vice President for Membership Development. For the SAA meeting, Michael prepared a flyer that he was able to place at different editorial booths, including SRI (the applied sector), inviting colleagues to join SAS by specifying the strengths of our society and the value of becoming a member. Together, we distributed this flyer during key sessions such as the student poster sessions and the well-attended forum he organized, Quiet Crisis in American Archaeology, having Paul Goldberg and David Killick as chairs. During the meeting, Michael circulated the new logo for SAS and it was very welcomed by all attendees. 

The blog and wiki are prominent markers of SAS. Lisa Sonnenburg (one of the Taylor Award Winners this year) is willing to cooperate with Rob.

Still, we are not increasing our membership. Michael and I learned that people in New Zealand and Australia would like to receive information about us. Building our Membership has to be a priority, so we should evaluate how to bring in those members that dropped out and how are we going to reach those that are unaware of us.

Future Plans for SAS
 First, it is necessary to recognize that archaeological sciences have never been more present at the SAA than at this meeting. Their scope was discussed by various symposiums and their uses widely applied in numerous papers, forums and posters. Since we are a society representing archaeological sciences, this trend has made us visible, even if we have lost members. Since I took office as President of SAS, I have been invited to attend the Presidents’ Breakfast, hosted by the on-going president of the SAA. It is indeed a petit committee sharing major concerns surrounding archaeology, our own specific goals, and the making of new initiatives to improve the professional and educational aspects of our discipline.

Ethics committee
At first sight, as I shared during our meeting, it sounds exciting. However, the way SAS is organized right now prevents us from acting when a joint initiative is put together. If I am not wrong, SAS has never had an active role in defending heritage issues. Last year, during the Christie’s auction affair, I realized other societies had an ethics committee with whom to discuss the joining of an initiative to stop the selling, except SAS. I supported the letter on the Board’s behalf as this needed a quick response. But, this was not the only uncomfortable situation. Possibly we would have been called in as experts to determine authenticity, leaving us with a series of rules that we would have had to have follow regarding Native American human remains that not everyone is aware of. Luckily, the letter was enough in this case.

The recent interviews I gave for the MiniGeology blog dealt with ethical issues, as these are part of our bylaws. The position we are in calls for the integration of such committee and this was an idea that was very welcomed by all those present. An ethics committee and guidelines are needed. It was recommended to send this idea for approval to our business meeting and if approved the President would write a proposal.

An SAS conference
I also shared that Patrick Degryse and I have envisioned having a conference exclusively for SAS through a Humboldt Kolleg. In briefly explaining what a Kolleg is the idea was also welcomed, specially, since it has the potential to take place in different parts of the world and support both scholars and students.

An SAS scholarship
I communicated that Patrick Degryse’s future goals, as President of SAS, includes the establishment of a scholarship that could promote a research stay for students. The idea was more than welcome by those present. I took the liberty to share Patrick’s goals at the Presidents’ Meeting as an excellent research opportunity that was welcomed by everyone, especially by RPA and the European Association of Archaeologists.

The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences Project with Wiley-Blackwell
 At the meeting, I was approached by Rosalie M. Robertson, Senior Editor of Anthropology and Archaeology, who asked if I had some interest in collaborating with them to coordinate an Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences. The idea that we worked over breakfast is for her to take the proposal we designed to Wiley, send it to us so I can present it to you all. I suggested SAS to endorse the Encyclopedia project that at this stage could include a printed book (covering the basics of archaeological sciences) that could serve as a teaching resource, linked to an A-Z specialized reference source (the Encyclopedia) that will be printed and can be updated on line, and an online resource of basic exercises or experiments. I am working as an international advisor for the Global Archaeology Encyclopedia by Elsevier, with Claire Smith as editor-in-chief, and for which Rob Tykot is responsible for the archaeological sciences sections, so I am aware of the challenges of this project. Rosalie promised to send the proposal in time for the ISA meeting. Again, this also depends on Wiley approving it, but in the mean time, I think this project could address many of the issues raised during the symposium organized by Michael Gregg.

My Concluding Remarks
Although our presence in the field is growing, it appears that our voluntary work is not always enough to meet effectively all the needed tasks. If we really want to see SAS thrive, we need to revise our organization chart, our channels of communication, and our internal procedures. We cannot continue centralizing activities in one person. This has proved to be problematic when this person is absent, is in the field, or goes through an emergency. We simply are unable to act or do the needed tasks. We need to clarify who can make decisions in such cases. If SAS is to become a more visible organization, we need to change it in order to more effectively address these concerns.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

SAS business meeting at ISA

Thursday, May 13, 18:15 - 19:15

Open meeting of the Society for Archaeological Sciences

Room MSC 2706

At International Symposium on Archaeometry, Tampa

Video interview with SAS President Sandra López Varela

A note from Sandra:

"I was interviewed by Daniel Minisini [for his miniGeology video blog] and he quickly set up the videos into his webpage and set up a link to our webpage, through a short profile. He liked so much what we were doing, he decided to run two video-interviews instead of one. I didn't know that my answers had to be on the "clip side" and on the "simple message" and the whole interview had to be a 5 minutes one, until we finished recording.

"I had a chance to talk to him as I assume most of us didn't know about his work. He works with tsunamis and sea structure"