Daily Archives: February 17th, 2007

I love my Archaeology

I am so glad I subscribed to Achaeology. The Aussie ones are just so dull, and boring, and often poorly written….

Here’s what’s in the jan/Feb issue:
An article that looks at the problems of even thinking about working in northern Cyrpus (the Turkish bit, which I didn’t realise is only recognised by Turkey), and the consquences on people who have the temerity to go and (possibly) vital resuce work on important ancient sites.
Clay tablets from Qatna, which was destroyed by Hittites, and the city where they were found… there’s correspondence between the Prince of Qatna and Akhenaten in the Amarna files.
An article on Selam, the near-complete skeleton of a c. 3 year old child even older than Lucy, who is 3.2 million years old.
Underwater archaeology in the North Sea, mapping ancient rivers and thinking about where people might have lived when the North Sea and the Englsih Channel were land (very, very cool).
Trying to figure out where Hannibal crossed the Alps – to their credit, it addresses the question of whether this is actually relevant to anything, and has a stab at arguing that yes this is valid research (and certainly, if you want to find out, it makes as much if not more sense to, like, go to the Alps and do some digging than just read Polybius…).
Excavating some fort in Georgia, US.
The legacy of some semi-nutter, Augustus le Plongeon, who thought world culture was thanks to a Mayan queen called Moo.
And, finally, an article on reshaping Waterloo – making it more touristy, but at the expense of any archaeological explortions, which have apparently never been conducted on the site (what the?). I can understand wanting to make money, but at the expense of finding out interesting stuff about the battle it doesn’t seem to make sense.

Anyway, it was a brilliant read.


So RedBubble is finally up and running – has been for a week, to be honest. I do have a section (RandomAlex, of course), but I only signed up because J asked me to check that the site was indeed working, and I signed up while I was doing that… which everyone in the company saw, since it was during work hours and they were all checking it for bugs or something. I was the first non-employee to register, which I’m quite proud of.

Anyway, that’s all beside the point. RB is now live for people to upload pictures to, for sale as prints or framed, and tshirts and other exciting products will be available soon. Very exciting! There is some truly amazing stuff on there already (and a bit of crap, but that’s only to be expected).


I have to admit that I am using Wikipedia at the moment, looking up the role of Russia in WWI and in particular the sequence of events right at the start (we get up to it this week in Revolutions). I feel like, as a historian, I should be using more ‘academic’ sources – but seriosusly, it’s so easy, and I’m guessing that something as major as this won’t have loonies making weird changes without getting caught pretty quickly (besides, I do know the time well enough to pick up loonies – I just don’t remember the dates so well). Anyway, it makes me think once more that maybe I should get involved in editing Wikipedia – and then I remember that I have a life, and lots of interesting things to do, and editing wikis seems like a good way both to go mad and never see the outside world again (those two things might be related). So I don’t think I’ll even start on editing grammar or what have you; it’s a black hole.

Human Rights Education

So on my day off I went to a Human Rights Education conference at Melbourne Uni. Partly because I was interested to hear what people said, partly because I was stupid enough to volunteer to present a workshop, on engaging students in human rights. Daft, daft… fortunately I was only giving a 20 minute spot, and doubly fortunately I was presenting in the same 45 section as my Dip Ed history tutor, which was brilliant because he’s a top bloke and very encouraging.

Anyway, the day started off with two keynote speakers. They were in the Charles Pearson Theatre, which made me have serious flashbacks to first-year Classics lectures in that same place – I think I sat in about the same spot as back then – but it’s so small! Much smaller than I remembered, Anyway, the first speaker was Malcolm Fraser, whom I knew would be interesting after hearing him last year (and I got a text from my mother that evening to say she thought she’d seen me on the news, because for some reason Fraser speaking in Melbourne made the news in Adelaide…). He pretty much spoke on the same stuff as the lecture last year – went on a lot about David Hicks and the new anti-terror laws. Made the interesting point that when Pauline Hanson said we should turn the boats around in the 90s, she got howled down; when Howard actually did it, he got re-elected…. There were a couple of cringe moments, as he made comments talking about Australians where he clearly meant white people; I guess it’s pretty hard to completely change your mentality.

The second speaker was John von Doussa QC – Chancellor of Adelaide Uni, judge in the Supreme Court, and President of HREOC. He mostly spoke about HREOC’s work, which was fairly interesting. He was very careful to talk about “paid work”, when discussing the issue of family and work, but I was a bit uncomfortable with him referring to the burden of family responsibilities. Not a very nice way to describe your kids or elderly parents.

This whole thing once more made me think about the issue of whether our (Australian) conception of human rights is a peculiarly Western, maybe Christian (-influenced), idea. How can they be reconciled with other cultures and different ways of thinking about people? Someone asked a question about this later in the day, but it wasn’t answered universally, just for Australia – like if you want to live here, you can’t practise female genital mutilation (was the example used). But the speaker steered clear of whether it should be allowed even in the Horn of Africa… and I have absolutely no answers either,

The first session I went to was about the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. It was fairly interesting. Except for the one bloke who insisted on hijacking the discussion a number of times, dragging it off in unrelated and uninteresting (to teachers, the majority of the audience) directions. Anyway..

I wagged the second session, after morning tea (which was disappointing, but then I think they were on a tight budget). After all, it was my day off…

The third session was thinking about how the different stances of Charity, Human Rights, and Privilege can change our way of looking at the world. The difficult part was that when the speaker wanted us to think from the Privilege point of view, she actually wanted us to think from the non-privileged point of view, which was a bit difficult for well-educated mostly white folks – and also difficult because it wasn’t entirely clear how she wanted us to do it. She also said something I think I disagree with: that it is impossible simultaneously to combat injustice and hang on to privilege. I think that by ‘hanging on to privilege’ she means keep thinking that you deserve to be better than everyone else, but I think I still disagree. Has Bill Gates negated his privileged position by donating an enormous amount of money to combatting disease?

The there was lunch, which was heaps better than morning tea. Then there was the fourth session, which was mine, and I think it went OK,

The afternoon finished with Barry Jones, Julian Burnside, and Garry Foley (whom I heard at the HTAV conference last year, I think it was). I missed the first 15 minutes because I was catching up with John, my old tutor. The three of them were pretty interesting, though – it was definitely a good finale to the conference.