These are a few of my favorite blogs

Obviously, the title of this post should be sung, Julie Andrews style. Tis the season, or something.

But in all seriousness, science blogging has been in the press a lot lately. Even as these stories demand that we confront the good, the bad, and the ugly of the medium, recent events have highlighted that blogs are increasingly important hotbeds of real and valuable discourse on the state of the field(s). There are lots of sweet archaeology blogs out there these days that prove exactly this point. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Bone Broke: If you’ve paid attention to the job market this year, you have probably realized that bioarchaeology is where it’s at. On her blog Bone Broke, Jess Beck, Phd candidate at the University of Michigan (and, full disclosure, close personal friend and wedding cake baker extraordinaire), offers sound advice for analyzing skeletal materials and cogent takes on bioarch-y current event. Her tips and tricks for siding a calcaneus (the right one looks like a lowercase “r”) and id-ing the pisiform (it looks like a tiny, non-fuzzy bison) provide a terrifically user friendly complement to the standard bone manuals. The sharp prose and accompanying illustrations also make the it a fun read. In short: it’s not just for osteologists, but for anyone interested in the ins-and-outs of data collection, ongoing debates at the intersections of archaeology and biological anthropology, or anatomically labeled pictures of Thor.

Image

Thanks for this Jess Beck, American hero.

Archaeology, Museums, and Outreach: Based out of the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa and the University of Memphis, Robert Connolly’s blog is a boon for anyone looking to learn more about engaging the public in archaeology. Connolly posts include reports on a variety of different cultural heritage projects, reflections on the role of volunteers in museums, and recently, ideas on how to use digital resources in the classroom. It’s always inspiring but never preachy, and offers lots of good ideas for reaching the variety of folks that might be interested in what we do.

Ohio Historical Society Archaeology Blog: Though more focused in scope than the above example, its clear that Brad Lepper and company will never run out of things to cover in their blog for the Ohio Historical Society. Updated almost daily, this repository of Ohio archaeology highlights recent publications, ongoing field and collections-based research, and efforts recognize and preserve Ohio’s remarkable archaeological heritage. Plus, one of their contributors carved a jack-o-lantern in the shape of the Adena pipe, and that is radical.

The Adena Pipe (Ohio's State Artifact) and its pumpkiny doppelganger, carved by OHS volunteer Sara Nuber. Huge.

The Adena Pipe (Ohio’s State Artifact) and its pumpkiny doppelganger, carved by OHS volunteer Sara Nuber. Huge.

Rather than expanding my own list, I’m curious — what are your favorite archaeology blogs? Please recommend some readings, folks!

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14 comments on “These are a few of my favorite blogs

  1. Shane says:

    I like Michael Smith’s Blog. He covers a lot of different topics of interest to archaeology.

    http://publishingarchaeology.blogspot.com/

    Also, it looks like Steve Leckson is posting parts of a book draft piecemeal on his webpage.

    http://stevelekson.com/

  2. Bioanth-trolling-archaeology-blogs here: I like Kristina Killgrove’s bioarch blog, Powered by Osteons (http://www.poweredbyosteons.org/), mainly because she reviews episodes of Bones from an anthro-perspective (she also talks about her bioarch research and bioarch in general). I’m also partial to TrowelBlazers (http://www.trowelblazers.com/), which highlights women archaeologists and paleoanthropologists throughout history (often including photos of these not-well-known-women and always including well-researched descriptions of their work).

  3. JB says:

    For some reason that shirtless picture of Thor is one of the most popular posts on my blog….No idea why.

  4. Meg says:

    Two things I am curious about regarding this topic are:

    (1) How do people feel about blogs that are sort of “update from the field” type venues (think Alice’s http://gardencreekarchaeology.wordpress.com or Jeremy Davis’s http://moundvilleplazaproject.wordpress.com). I love this idea from an outreach perspective… showing the interested public not only our archaeological findings but introducing them to the archaeological PROCESS as well.

    (2) Facebook page vs. blog? Which seems to be the most effective? Why?

  5. dover1952 says:

    With Regard to Meg’s Two Points:

    1) I like the “update from the field” blogs. They are at their very best when they are updated each day. Showing postmolds, features, structure walls, etc. is fine as well as the archaeological process, but I think archaeologists should also show people the artifacts they are finding, even the great museum-quality pieces that are rarely found or seen—and explain what they mean in context to whatever extent that is possible. The public thinks, however wrongly, that archaeology is all about artifacts. If they do not see some along with some explanation, they are going to feel cheated—and with good reason. Unlike some archaeologists, I do not assume every citizen is a potential looter and do not believe in hiding artifacts to avoid whetting assumed latent hungers that may spike sudden shovel purchases at hardware stores.

    2) Facebook pages probably get more visits than blogs. However, visitor interaction tends to be more cryptic and mundane because no one wants to write an essay comment using a cell phone.

    3) The problem with archaeology blogs (I own one—and know) is that large numbers of people visit. From China to Brazil to Australia, people visit mine and read the living daylights out of it—often returning time and time again. However, almost no one ever leaves a comment or strikes up a multiple comment discussion about a topic. This lack of participative feedback and interaction is one of the most common complaints one hears from numerous archaeology blog owners. As the old southern saying goes, “Don’t be shy. Come on in, take your shoes off, and sit a spell.”

    4) Unless a person has a particular topical ax they would like to grind in great technical depth, I think an archaeology blog has to be appealing to a wide range of people, tell some interesting and fun stories about archaeology and archaeology-related things, and show the human side of archaeology, archaeologists, and the situations they encounter in the course of real life. In other words, be a real human being who can relate to other people rather than a “stuffed shirt” on a mission to convey a “professional image” of archaeology to the average citizen. Cultivating a “professional image” is graduate school Pablum. Check your archaeological pulse at age 61 and see if you still feel the same about it that your professors encouraged you to feel when you were 24. Try being human first and always. The public wants a friendly archaeologist, and the members of the public would like to feel a little love and humanity coming across to them rather than someone talking down to them.

    5) Some archaeologists like to pretend that they are secret agents working in a discipline shrouded in secrecy and dealing everyday with Top Secret information about the archaeological record. Therefore, it is just somehow “wrong” to own an archaeology blog where you regularly talk to people about archaeology because you might do an intentional or accidental Julian Assange—and then your whole little archaeological world would suddenly come crashing down around your ears. This is utter nonsense. All you do is avoid talking about your specific confidential project information and specific archaeological site locations in your blog posts. Perhaps some people feel incapable of writing a blog post about anything archaeological unless it is a discussion of the specific contract work they did today. Archaeology is a lot wider than whatever contract work you did today, and you must have some thoughts or feelings about it. Start an archaeology blog and let us hear how you feel about it and what you have to say.

    6) Yes, I am indeed just plain nuts, but like the beer commercial says, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”

    • Meg says:

      To belabor the Facebook/Blog point a bit longer… there is one other thing that I think is an essential difference. I think that social media users feel more okay briefly sharing things on Facebook (versus making a more substantive post) and that allows for more frequent and perhaps a wider range of posts.

    • Shane says:

      Kind of off-topic, but just wanted to leave you a note thanking you for being a regular commenter on the blog.

      • dover1952 says:

        Thanks Shane—from one Tennessee VOL to another. I like reading all of the really interesting things you folks have to say on assorted archaeological topics.

  6. dover1952 says:

    Let me ask you guys a question. Why do you think visitors to archaeological blogs avoid posting comments in response to main blog owner posts? Maybe one or two people out of every 100 visits will post a comment—and that is on a lucky day. This is one of the great mysteries that archaeology blog owners are wondering about these days—and it really is a mystery to us. We archaeology bloggers would really like to know what you think. No idea is too dumbass. Just blurt it out.

    My favorite hypothesis (completely untested) with regard to one blog visitor subset population runs something like this:

    “If I were to post my real opinion about that archaeological subject in a comment and my committee chairman were to ever read it, there is no way I would ever pass my comprehensive exams. The very thought of commenting just scares me to death.”

    How about it? Anyone want to be brave and step up to the plate?

    • Meg says:

      Hmm…. I have never felt too worried about posting because of advisor feedback, but I suppose I could see that mattering to some people.

      My immediate reaction is to say it is a time versus return thing.

      Informal discussion and idea sharing are essential for developing publishable material and thus people really love the idea of blogs and love staying up to date by reading them….. however, in most cases blogs do not in and of themselves get us closer to satisfying the requirements of our PhD programs, nor do they get faculty members any closer to tenure. Fieldwork, analysis, dissertation writing, publishing, conference presentations, job interviews, mentoring, service, and teaching all present obstacles to this type of collaboration….

    • I’ve been blogging for a few years now (http://www.digtech-llc.com/blog) and I’ve probably seen a total of about 40-50 comments on over 200 posts. However, I post links to my posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and ArchFieldwork. Nearly ALL of the comments are on those sites. People just don’t like clicking in.

      One other reason, at least for me, why people don’t post is the insane login requirements most of the free blogs have. For example, I’m sure I’ll have to log in and confirm yet another infuriating WordPress email as a result of this reply. So, I don’t comment on a blog unless I REALLY have something to say. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

    • dover1952 says:

      Hm-m-m-m. Both here and at other archaeology blogs where I post, I am begining to see the broad outlines of something very surprising and completely unexpected. The archaeology graduate students of today seem to have a whole different view, perspective, outlook on life, and relationship with archaeology than what I grew up with. If what I am picking up on is true and real, then I wish that I had been born 40 years later than I was. My life in and out of archaeology would have been a whole lot happier. None of you seem to be scared to death of your professors, and none of you appear to view your fellow graduate students as (1) bitter rivals; (2) A-holes to fence off; or (3) people to watch carefully for fear of a stab in the back. Everyone appears to be so…well…different.

      Is this something generational? Why are you so different. From some of my comments here and on other blogs, I guess you can pick up on the fact—and it is a fact—that I have a love-hate relationship with American archaeology and many of the people in it—at least those of my own generation. I have found myself trying to transfer the bad experiences of my own archaeological past forward into your generation, assuming that all now is still the same as it was in my generation—but I am finding more and more that it does not transfer. My square peg does not fit into your round holes, which I actually find to be a bit refreshing.

      What is the difference I am picking up on here in the blogosphere?

  7. […]  A similar issue then came up in the comments of a recent post on SEAC Underground  about blogging.  Here is a quote from that […]

  8. Shane says:

    Here’s a pretty good archaeology related blog…it’s like Mythbusters for Archaeology

    http://makingflakes.blogspot.com/

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