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Member of the Month, Pt 1: Dr Sam Hardy

October 24, 2014

Sam writes:

Just as I’ve fallen backwards into most of my career, I started it by accident. I was interested in history and forensics, so stared at my options, shrugged, split the difference and applied for archaeology; then I cocked up my A-levels and got into Sheffield through clearing (about which I still could not be happier). There, I lucked out again when my school French was so poor that I couldn’t get a place on a dig in France, because I was told there was a place on a dig in Greece. I ended up working there for four summers – and falling in love with the country (and the entire region).
Since it cost the same to fly to Italy and travel down as it did to fly directly to Greece, and it cost the same to travel around between activities as it did to go home then come back out again, I took the opportunity to see a little of south-eastern Europe. In Sarajevo, I walked up a hill to get a view over the city, but found a ruined home, inside which graffiti implored the reader to “write about us, stop [an]other genocide”. I don’t know why, exactly, but it really affected me and stuck with me. Because I was interested in and concerned by the convoluted histories that I saw being written around me – and because I didn’t have a head for names or numbers – I ended up working on the politics and ethics of cultural heritage work.
I did my MA in cultural heritage (at UCL) in 2003-2004, in the shadow of the (that) Iraq War. Heavily engaged in professional discussions regarding the clash between poor and insecure people’s economic rights and looted antiquities’ source communities’ cultural rights, I did my dissertation on the apparently controversial idea of a human right to loot.
I planned to do my doctorate (at Sussex) on peace education at historic sites in Kosovo but, throughout my MSc, there had been increasing reports of violence. Naturally, I went. There, people told me that it was a good idea, but a bad time – I could do it, but I would go home in a box. Equally naturally, I left. I hastily rewrote my proposal for Cyprus and went there instead.
Still, in Cyprus, I couldn’t get people to talk with me about peace education at historic sites (though, after that, through the work that I was able to do, I met or saw the work of a very committed community). I tried to explore the destruction, and got fobbed off with propaganda or (more often) stonewalled, but then someone outright lied to me. I worked backwards from the lies to build an investigation into destruction and propaganda, which I blogged at Cultural Heritage in Conflict ( Through that investigation, I found more and more evidence of antiquities trafficking by armed groups.
In the end, I wrote my thesis on the political economy of cultural heritage in the Cyprus Conflict, encompassing work in occupied and secessionist territory, political violence against cultural property and illicit trade in cultural goods.
Blissfully for all concerned, there’s not much more to say. Apart from stints as an illicit antiquities researcher at a peace-building cultural heritage NGO in the Netherlands (about which I cannot say much more) and as an English teacher at a language school in central Turkey (about which I do not need to say any more), I’ve been practically unemployed ever since.
Partly to improve access to my work, partly to develop my research, partly to put my professional skills to public use, partly to whore myself out to the first bidder, and partly to have something to do that used up enough attention to distract me from the dole, I developed a new blog, Conflict Antiquities (, on looting and destruction in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Boredom built into frustration and, when Emily Johnson triggered the public discussion of unpaid archaeology (, I vented so much that I established yet another blog, Unfree Archaeology (, on precarious labour in cultural heritage.
Unfree Archaeology began with a focus on the British labour market, but it began just before Occupy Gezi, so it and Conflict Antiquities quickly grew to include the role of archaeology and archaeologists in the revolution in Turkey. One of my first posts, before the occupation, noted that archaeologists had (already) engaged in ‘coordinated professional resistance’ ( Likewise, when it all kicked off in EuroMaidan, Kyiv, Ukraine, I helped by translating, analysing and discussing information on the treatment of cultural property and cultural property workers.
However, Conflict Antiquities became my full-time work-for-labour due to the Syrian civil war and Syrian-Iraqi collapse. It started simply enough, with the open source analysis of antiquities looting and trafficking. Then, I began to fact-check claims of destruction regarding the war(s) in Syria and Iraq. Now, I’ve become a public expert of sorts – unable to tell anyone anything about an ancient site other than whether it is still standing – and, grimly, in demand for that very reason. Even the Islamic State reads (and exploits) me (
Thank you Sam, I came across your blogs when I was checking the HARN membership for the survey and I keep going back, they make for uncomfortable but compulsive reading.
If any of you would like to write a similar biographical feature, or nominate another member we should approach, then get in touch.
Have a great weekend

Member of the Month

October 23, 2014

begins tomorrow and we kick off with a cracking account from Sam Hardy about his research and how he became involved in the discussion of unpaid work in archaeology and detailing the looting and destruction of ancient sites. As he wryly points out, he is now the go-to guy for information about whether a site is still standing. If you don’t regularly visit his blogs then you won’t know about his passion, integrity and superb turn-of-phrase. Even if you do, you’re in for a fantastic read, come back tomorrow!

HARN Workshop

October 22, 2014

We’ve had a lot of responses to Ulf’s email about holding a HARN conference/workshop in Glasgow. The majority of responses have been very positive and many of you are enthusiastic about the idea and keen to be involved. However, we have heard from some members who have misunderstood what we’re trying to achieve, and feel we should be running a session at the EAA rather than trying to compete with them. I’ll try to clarify our intentions here, but if anyone has any more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch – that’s what we’re here for.

We want to hold a HARN workshop where we can get a good number of the members together, many HARN members attend the EAA so we thought they would already be in Glasgow.
The idea is to hold this workshop either immediately before or after the EAA rather than at the same time.

While we obviously support the EAA, indeed several HARN members are intending to give papers at the EAA, we felt it would be better to organise a separate workshop under the HARN banner rather than within the organised sessions because:

1. Given that this is intended to be a HARN workshop for the benefit of our members it would be inappropriate to ask the EAA to sponsor a separate and independent event within their conference.

2. We want our members to have the chance to speak on whatever subject they choose rather than trying to fit into a specific session.
3. We also want to have the chance to discuss the future of HARN with our members and again we felt it would be inappropriate to use EAA resources for our own advantage.
As you can see we have no intention of exploiting the EAA, rather we’re hoping to take advantage of our members being in the same country at the same time.
As I said, I hope this makes sense, but if anything is still unclear use the comments box below or send us an email.


October 21, 2014
Amara has sent us notice of two very exciting events:
1.Book Launch: Histories of Egyptology – Interdisciplinary Measures
Tuesday 28 October 5.30-7.30pm
Interested in histories of archaeology, Egyptology, colonialism, museology, archives and related disciplines? Join us for informal drinks in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology to celebrate the new Routledge volume Histories of Egyptology: Interdisciplinary Measures. Meet the editor, . William Carruthers, and other contributors, explore some of the archival materials held in the Petrie Museum, and network with colleagues interested in excavating archives.  
Histories of Egyptology are increasingly of interest: to Egyptologists, archaeologists, historians, and others. Yet, particularly as Egypt undergoes a contested process of political redefinition, how do we write these histories, and what (or who) are they for? This volume addresses a variety of important themes: the historical involvement of Egyptology with the political sphere, the manner in which the discipline stakes out its professional territory, the ways in which practitioners represent Egyptological knowledge, and the relationship of this knowledge to the public sphere. Histories of Egyptology provides the basis to understand how Egyptologists constructed their discipline. Yet the volume also demonstrates how they construct ancient Egypt, and how that construction interacts with much wider concerns: of society, and of the making of the modern world.
2. Excavating Egypt in the 1930s: Film Screening and Talk

Michael McCluskey (UCL English)

Thursday 20 November 2014

Room G6, UCL Institute of Archaeology, 6-8pm

All welcome, please reserve a free ticket at Eventbrite:

 The excavation team at Tell el-Amarna, Egypt shot over three hours of film footage from 1930-1933.  These images of Egypt help us think about amateur film as social practice and cultural artefact.  They include leisure activities, street scenes of Cairo, and a crucial moment in the excavation season rarely captured in motion: the division of antiquities.

See more footage from the Egypt Exploration Society’s Lucy Gura Archive that has never been seen before in public… at least, not since the 1930s. 

This event will launch a new collaborative project: Filming Antiquity.

Filming Antiquity is funded by a UCL CHIRP Small Grants Award. 

For more information and details, visit

Follow us on Twitter @FilmAntiquity

Today’s post

October 17, 2014

was going to be a review of Time’s Anvil but due to unforseen circumstances (I haven’t finished reading it) and forseen ones – I’m on my way to London to see this – there’s going to be a delay. Hopefully I’ll be back after the weekend with an erudite and comprehensive review.

Have a great weekend, even if yours is free of lego


Changes* and a HARN Conference

October 9, 2014

We (as in ‘we the HARN administrators’ not ‘we, as in me but I feel ‘we’ sounds better’) have been planning some changes ever since we had the results of our survey back in January, they’re not major changes but hopefully they’ll lively up the place somewhat.

First and foremost, the inestimable Jonathan Trigg has offered to compile a HARN bibliography. All our publications in one place! Sounds like an excellent scheme to me. I have no idea how he intends to do this but I’m sure you’ll be assisting by sending him an email detailing past and forthcoming publications. Address it to and put bibliography in the subject line, or use the form on the contact page.

Allied to that we’re intending to compile, and publish on the blog, an index of people’s research interests and list the relevant HARN members under each heading. Hopefully this will make it much easier for everyone to find their interest group and contact each other about relevant matters. I’ll be doing that over the coming months and do get in touch if you’d like to add more detail than is present in the brief biography we each have.

We have been intending to update the HARN Conferences and Workshops page like, for evah! Ulf, who, like Jonathan, obviously needs less sleep than the rest of us, is going to be working on adding past HARN events adding programmes, abstracts, lists of participants and the like. If you’ve taken part in any HARN event then do email him with your information. Oh golly! I guess we should do the AGMs too – any volunteers for that?

I still like the idea of having regular book and article reviews and reviews of conferences and workshops, if you’re interested in writing a review, or if you’d like to get more involved with running HARN you’d be more than welcome. If you’re unsure what’s needed then do have a look at this post and this one, or email us with your own suggestions for how we can improve HARN.

And, finally – one of the main points raised by the survey and individual members is that they would like a specific HARN conference. One idea we’ve had is to organise something in Glasgow either immediately before or after the 2015 EAA meeting – on the grounds that many international HARN members will be attending the EAA. Does the timing and location sound like a good idea to you? Would you be interested in participating in such a conference – either giving a paper or as an audience –  and if so what themes would you like to see covered? Obviously this will take a tremendous amount of planning, fundraising, organising etc so again we’re asking for volunteers to help with this.

Get in touch! We really do want to hear from you with suggestions, criticisms, ideas to improve HARN, offers of help – we would love offers of help!

Have a great weekend


*It was inevitable my brain would get to Bowie eventually

Edit-on dudes: #ClassicsWomen are into Wikipedia

October 6, 2014

Originally posted on The word muses:


Editathon participants.

This week, after a lot of planning and persuading people to get involved, I ran a Wikipedia editathon to create and improve the pages of women who have been important to classics disciplines. (And I mean disciplines – philology, archaeology, history, ancient theatre, epigraphy, numismatics – the list goes on.)

The idea came about after I went to a conference about over a dozen women in modern history who have made astounding contributions to classics – but who I’d never heard of! Even though I unknowingly am influenced by their work pretty much every day I study.

Astonishingly, I realised that it is not a last-century development that women have been grappling with the thorniest problems of translation, publishing, teaching, engaging in classics scholarship at the highest levels – even gaining public recognition for this – but that women have been doing this throughout the modern period. So…

View original 552 more words


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