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HARN 2015 continued – part 2

September 7, 2015

Or some such title which suggests I’m going to take up where I left off. And I will, in a moment. First though, are we all suffering post-conference dislocation? I’ve arrived home and, despite the sterling work of my sisters who have been being ace aunties and me replacements (but y’know better, kinder, nicer versions of me) while I was in Glasgow, I have a towering pile of laundry, a trashed house, there’s a funny smell in the fridge and I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to do about these things. I live in a very nice tenement block (or tower), that has cleaners, I eat out rather than menu plan and shop, I am a very important person who organises conferences and listens to papers and comments upon them in an erudite manner. I do not wrestle 3 year olds, kicking and screaming, into their bath, I do not get called upon to read Rick Riordan books (note – the films are great but the books are terrible) or nag until everyone is ready to go to preschool/school/university of a morning, make dental appointments for people who are not me and all the other things I didn’t do before going to Glasgow because I was running around like a headless chicken shouting ‘Don’t bother me with these irrelevancies! Don’t you know I am a very important person who organises conferences and listens to papers and comments upon them in an erudite manner?’

‘K whinge over.

Part 2 of HARN 2015 – and post lunch was just as exciting and interesting as pre-lunch: Ingrid Berg used the first Swedish excavation in Greece, on Kalaureia (Poros) in 1894, to talk about how the history of archaeology has been mediated throughout the 20th century. Through publications, museum exhibitions, web sites, newspaper articles, lectures and radio interviews archaeologists have created an idea/understanding of themselves which is then presented to the public. Ingrid was followed by Laurien de Gelder who spoke about the history of Dutch archaeological research in Greece – an interest which began in the nineteenth century – and how these projects are contextualised and understood as knowledge-generating entities. In addition, Laurien discussed how this history can be presented to the wider public through museum displays. Johannes Siapkas followed Laurien, his presentation, about interwar racial discourses, was both fascinating and gruesome – skulls! It covered phrenology in the first half of the twentieth century and the work of Carl Fürst – phrenologist extraordinaire and royal skull examiner – in cataloguing and classifying the skulls found from Asine and Mycenae but, like Martin’s paper, we’ll have to wait until publication for the full story.

After the coffee break the wonderful Monica Barnes told us all about the, rather sad, life of Gary Stockton Vescelius (1930-1982). A legend in his own lifetime, Vescelius began his archaeological work as a teenager, he surveyed and excavated in the United States, Peru, Mexico, and the Caribbean but published almost nothing himself. Thankfully, the American Museum of Natural History acquired the bulk of Vescelius’ papers and photographs, as well as some of his samples, after his death so some of his work survives. We remained in South America for Annemiek Rhebergen’s paper about her recent fieldwork studying the historical practices and current local views on archaeological work in Northwest Argentina. It was so interesting to hear how archaeology and archaeologists are viewed by those outside the profession, particularly by those with no knowledge of our work. James Snead then wrapped up the session of longer papers with his presentation on Circular 316: devised by the cash strapped Smithsonian to capitalise on the increasing popularity of American antiquities and in preparation for a major report on the antiquities, this circular was an archaeology questionnaire sent out to all interested parties. It generated hundreds of responses collectively depicting the American antiquarian world of the 1870s, but James also explained how the struggle for patrons led to animosity and enmity between rival archaeologists.

The final session consisted of lightning rounds – I’d never come across these before, but as we know, I don’t get out much – Emily Bushold, Matiana Gallegos and Anna Gustavsson all gave brief accounts of their work: Emily talked about moral panics using ISIS and social media as her example and the differing twitter patterns between posts by journalists bigging up the atrocities versus the more measured accounts by experts. Matiana’s research on open and closed databases involved an ethnographic study of the Art Loss Register and other such organisations collecting oral testimonies about the background and aspirations of those involved. The final paper was by Anna whose research is on the contact and interaction between Scandinavian and Italian researchers between 1870 and 1920, with particular focus on the Bologna Congress of 1871.

And, after a brief speech by Pamela Jane Smith – HARN’s founder – we went to the pub. I say ‘we’, really I mean most people then went to the pub. I went to the pub later than everyone else because I had to go and buy a sparkly pink Minnie Mouse bag as a bribe for my daughter needed a brisk walk in the fresh air. After the pub we went for a meal and still everyone was talking, talking, talking. It was splendid to look around the restaurant and see groups of people animatedly discussing their research, sharing ideas, talking – HARN’s intention in action. Marvellous.

I may write a post about the EAA – that was fun too – or I may not. I’m like that, devil-may-care, spontaneous and impulsive. Ok, in truth I may not have time, the laundry, that smell, chickens and children to wrangle etc etc etc.

I hope your re-entry to real life is positive and enjoyable.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Monica Barnes permalink
    September 8, 2015 3:53 pm

    Julia seems to be suffering from PEST (Post-Event Stress Trauma). One of the epicenters of this disorder seems to be Glasgow City College. I have noticed similar symptoms in myself, minus two small children, but exacerbated by two transatlantic flights and a five-hour time difference. An odd manifestation of PEST is that instead of avoiding future events, as one might expect, a victim develops obsessive thoughts of the next one.



  1. Gatherings | HARN Weblog

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