Wednesday, September 18, 2019

My Dark Places


This is not an archaeology post, but I hope you’ll read it anyway.



In August this year the magnificent Punk survivors Stiff Little Fingers finished their current tour on home ground at the ‘Putting the Fast in Belfast’ festival at Custom House Square. This is the third such event and I’ve been lucky enough to attend them all. Going back before that they’ve been playing one particular song since 2014 and always with a similar themed introduction. I though it was time that Jake Burns’ words were allowed to speak beyond SLF fans to whatever little audience I can provide. Here’s what he said in Belfast on August 24th 2019:

“The next tune was never supposed to see the light of day. It was written just for something for me to keep to myself. But we went ahead and recorded it and I’m really glad we did and I’ll tell you for why. It’s a song I wrote to deal with the fact that I suffer from depression. It’s a thing that’s bugged me for abut four or five years now, if not longer in fact.

I basically wrote down everything that I went through to remind myself that there was light at the end of the tunnel because for some reason we don’t like to talk about this stuff. We don’t like to talk about any form of mental anguish or whatever, and particularly men. Men are the world’s fucking worst at bottling stuff up. To the point that last year in the UK along over 4,000 young men committed suicide and simply because they didn’t fee that they had anybody they could talk to.

So, here’s the thing. If you do suffer from depression or any form of mental anguish at all – for Fuck’s Sake talk about it! Talk to somebody about it, will ya?

It’s the first step to getting well.

This is a song called My Dark Places”

Listen on YouTube here


UK Mental Health charities include Mind and Mental Health UK - talk to them & get help if you need it.




Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Clowning about in Galway | Excavating an archive from Summer 1994





This is not really an archaeology post, so feel free to ignore!




A few years back, I came into possession of a USB negative scanner. I kinda bought it on a whim from a friend and, once it had arrived, I thought it was going to be another gadget that 'I must get around to using', but would be destined to sit there gathering dust. Part of my regret in buying it was focused on the fact that I had no real idea where my surviving collection of negatives had migrated to over the years. They were probably in the house ... somewhere. I had a memory of seeing them several years previously, but where they were now was anyone's guess. No more than an hour later I moved a cardboard box that had been sitting happily and unobtrusively in the middle of my office floor and found - much to my surprise - that it contained pretty much my entire surviving archive of my non-archaeology photography. I took the coincident appearance of the negatives as a sign that I should scan them and make them available in some format. I've basically started with the most recent (at the beginning of the folder) and am making my way back, scanning as I go. In some ways it is quite like an archaeological excavation, peeling back layers deposited on layers. Instead of various shades of brown silty-clay filling a variety of pits and ditches, it's a lever-arch file of (broadly) chronologically deposited negatives and contact prints. From what I can see, it spans the period from sometime in 1993 to the summer of 1994. Going back through these is as much an exercise in personal excavation as it is one of reminiscence. Rather than archaeological artefacts of bone or pottery, these record the personal artefacts of the people in my life, the places I lived and the subjects I found aesthetically appealing. The physical quality of the material is also variable - some images are terribly dark and largely unusable as I experimented with a home darkroom for a while - this was not the roaring success I had hoped! Others have scrawled notes, giving a variety of detail on locations and subjects, though this does seem to fade out as time progressed.






The reason that my carefully catalogued collection of negatives spans this particular period of 1993 to 1994 is that it represents a time in my life when I was obsessed with becoming a great photographer. I finished my BA in archaeology in 1991 and was ... drifting. I'd had a few archaeology-related jobs, but a year or so spent in Belmullet, Co. Mayo was relatively well-paid and allowed me to buy some decent equipment and the job got me out into the countryside to take photos and improve my skills (I still have the ridiculously expensive Manfrotto tripod that I bought during this phase). By 1994 I was nominally back in university 'working on my Masters'. This was a convenient untruth and was much more palatable than admitting that while I was reading everything about ringforts I could get my hands on, I wasn't exactly doing it in a structured way and I certainly wasn't doing any actual writing. The collection of hand-annotated maps and notes under my bed was thick with dust and neglect and did not resemble a viable research endeavour in any real sense. Throughout, I was taking photographs and was rarely seen without at least one camera to hand. As I was serious about my photography, I largely took black and white with occasional forays into slides (but only ever called them 'transparencies'). To underline my innate seriousness about all things photographic, I bulk purchased my B&W film in 30m lengths and rolled my own. Thinking back on my appearance at the time - I was an apparition in an old vintage tweed jacket, giant ginger beard (occasionally with braids), a dubious taste in millinery & waistcoats, and was regularly found sporting a tipped Café Crème cigarillo. Today I'd probably be castigated as an 'hipster' ('angelheaded' or otherwise) ... but that was just Galway in the mid 90s ... any assembled gathering could boast half a dozen guys on the same end of that particular bell curve. The only discernable difference was that I was more socially awkward than most. And I wondered why I found it difficult to meet women?





In 1994 renowned Portuguese choreographer Madalena Victorino was invited to come to Galway as part of the city's Arts Festival. She assembled a cast of local would-be actors, dancers, and passing tourists and informed them that they were not going to be transformed into a troupe of black-clad, white-faced, red-nosed clowns. They were instead going to be transformed into a troupe of black-clad, white-faced, red-nosed soulful clowns ... in bowler hats. As far as I can work out, the performances started out around The King's Head pub, but centred on the intersection of Cross Street and Quay Street and involved mime, music, and waving bed sheets. This was followed by a short procession down to the River Corrib for theatrical lamentations while peering into the water below. I'm not sure how many performances they did, but they turn up on all or parts of four rolls of B&W film, along with a handful of surviving transparencies colour slides (I'm pretty sure I took more than three, but that's all I can find). During one of these performances I realised that I was standing right beside the well-known (and remarkably talented) photographer Joe O'Shaughnessy. I didn't think particularly much of it until the following day when one of his photos appeared on the front page of The Irish Times. It was almost identical in every respect to one I'd taken at the same time ... with the exception that his was better in every respect ... focus, framing, just the right moment ... perfection! This is why his photographs appear on the front page of the IT and mine have only been seen by a handful of people in 25 years. It was around then that I realised that - with vast practice and dedication - I might eventually become a decentish photographer, but I'd never be the type of 'great' I thought I wanted to be. Instead, I decided than my future lay in archaeology ... make of that what you will! Twenty-plus years later, I only own 'entry level' cameras and the only thing I'd consider to be specialist or 'high end' equipment is my beloved Manfrotto tripod. When I put my mind to it, I can even occasionally capture something interesting! But what we have here are the efforts of a 23 year old, with his head filled with Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-BressonDiane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Dorothea Langeand Robert Mapplethorpe, desperate to find his own 'vision'.





Except ... looking back on these now, I see that what has developed into my personal approach to photography was already there ... I just didn't realise it yet! These days, the driving force of my photography is about repetition and reiteration. Simply put, I reckon that anyone with any degree of ability can point a camera at an interesting scene and push the shutter release. With skill (and luck) the result will be a 'good' photograph (however one might define that). But what if you come back a second day? Will you still find something exciting and worthwhile to capture then? How about on day three ... or day 20? How would you feel photographing the same subject a decade later? Over 20 years that's where my photographic philosophy has gone ... for me it's a test of creative endurance. Can I still conjure the personal strength to be enthused about the subject? Can I find something new to to see in it and to say about it? And the biggie: Will people still be interested? Admittedly, as a hobbyist, the last point is not a huge concern, but personal enthusiasm is difficult to sustain if you're the only one interested! Here, I came back to the same subject over, maybe, three days, trying different shots, exploring different vantage points (including hanging out the windows of the Ryder Son & Co. Accountants offices, much to the bemusement of Mr Ryder Senior). At the time it was no different to similar quests by others - to take that one 'perfect' shot that captured not just the event, but went beyond that and embodied the spirit of the city in festival. Few photographers ever manage to produce such images - even the very best - and I was never going to be among their number. There are no 'perfect' images in this collection. But, to be honest, two and a half decades later ... some of these aren't all that bad!


Joe Shaughnessy & I stood side-by-side photographed these two performers. His shot was remarkable and ended up on the front page of the Irish Times. Mine did not & there's a reason for that.




I hope you like them too ...




Notes:
Apart from the colour of the beard and the lack of smoking (over 12 years now), the only thing that's really changed is that I'm too fat to fit into my waistcoats ... I still carry a couple of cameras wherever I go & I'm still a hipster at heart!

In writing up these notes I'm reminded of a story told by my good friend Prof Howard Goldbaum. He photographed the 1967 anti-Vietnam War march in Washington and captured an image of a protester holding a flower in front of a group of soldiers with bayonets affixed to their rifles. It is an excellent image and should be better known. However, just a few feet away stood Marc Riboud (protégé of Henri Cartier-Bresson) who took an image of the same woman, flower, soldiers, and bayonets that not only captured the essence of that day in that place, but is considered to be one of the defining images of protest and one of the best photographs ever taken. You may compare the two side-by-side here.



I do genuinely adore my Manfrotto tripod. It has been at the centre of many of my photographic adventures – including ones where I’ve questioned my own judgment and sanity for attempting to haul it up mountainsides. Manfrotto tripods have a great reputation that justifies their hefty price tag. Part of that status comes from the solidity and sturdiness of their construction. They may not be the lightest thing you can haul about, but they’ll stay put in anything short of a hurricane. What I would like to note here is that this robustness extends beyond the purely photographic and that a Manfrotto can also be wielded as a defensive weapon. Once upon a time I was set upon by an aggressive drunk who attempted to kick his way through the door of my flat. Like a complete idiot, I reckoned that the best course of action was to open the door and attempt a rational discussion. This did not go well. My would-be attacker (enraged at my audacity at turning out the light in my flat & thus plunging him into darkness in the communal hallway) grabbed at me, succeeding in ripping all the buttons off my waistcoat (it was the 90s after all). As he pushed me back into my flat, I reached out and grabbed the first thing that came to hand … Manfrotto be thy name! If you know me in real life, you’ll be quite aware that I’m no fighter, so you’ll have an idea how much genuine fear it took for me to swing that thing. To the best of my memory, it took only a couple of blows that found their mark (more by luck than judgment) and my attacker was put to flight. It may not be foremost in the Manfrotto advertising strategy, but their tripods can certainly  be wielded defensively! 



< Full Collection Here

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Co Louth: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds 13 items identified as coming from Co Louth. The majority of these (4) are assigned to the Bronze Age, followed by the Early Medieval period (3). The most common object type represented are palstaves (3), followed by floor-tiles and spear-heads (2 each). Only two material types are represented in this assemblage: Metal (11) and Pottery (2).


Bronze Age: Metal items
Drogheda
spear-head
18551220.210
Copper alloy socketed spearhead, pegged.

Drogheda
palstave
18551220.230
Copper alloy palstave.

Drogheda
sword
18551220.200
Copper alloy sword fragment; only the butt and a portion of the blade survive. There are four rivet-holes in the butt. The edges of the blade have been badly damaged and towards the broken end the blade has been slightly bent.

Drogheda
spear-head
18551220.220
Copper alloy socketed spearhead, tip of blade only.


Early Bronze Age: Metal item
Drogheda
axe
WG.1538
Copper alloy flanged axe with thin, rounded butt. Decorated.


Middle Bronze Age: Metal items
Louth
palstave
OA.115
Copper alloy palstave, damaged.

Ardee (near)
palstave
18431226.130
Copper alloy palstave, small.


Early Medieval: Metal items
Drogheda (near)
ring brooch; pseudo-penannular brooch; penannular brooch
18540714.140
A cast silver brooch pin. The ring head has three sunken crescent-shaped panels, two triangular settings and a tongue-shaped knob. The pin is incised with an interlace pattern. The shank and end of the pin are missing.
8thC-9thC

Drogheda
penannular brooch
18540714.138
Leaded bronze penannular brooch with plain hoop and expanded animal head terminals; pin of oval section with flattened hooked head.
5thC-6thC

Drogheda
ringed pin
18680709.270
Copper alloy ringed pin; pin-head ribbed and hooked over ring; shank of oval to rectangular section, with incised diagonal cross.
9thC-10thC


Medieval; Early Medieval: Metal item
Mellifont Abbey
cross pendant
18590604.100
Gold pendant cross; expanded arms of gold sheet with filigree scrolls; central setting of blue glass in twisted wire; suspension loop.
12thC (?)


Late Medieval: Pottery items
Mellifont Abbey (?)
floor-tile
19470505.972
Earthenware floor tile, lead-glazed. Made in Cheshire (?)
14thC

Mellifont Abbey (?)
floor-tile
19470505.719
Earthenware floor tile, lead-glazed. Made in Ireland (?)
14thC-15thC

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

In praise of Emania & independent publishers

I recently became aware that I had a couple of gaps in my collection of Emania, The Bulletin of the Navan Research Group. I promptly popped along to the http://www.curach-bhan.com website and they were soon in my possession. Today's post is a shameless plug for this great Journal and the hard work that Curach Bhán publications do to bring it together. Go on - have a look at their website, browse their wares, order a couple of volumes! If you want to see independent journals & their publishers* survive you've got to support them.



Emania – Bulletin of the Navan Research Group 22, 2014

Ranke de Vries: The Ulster Cycle in the Netherlands
J.P. Mallory and Gina Baban: Excavations in Haughey’s Fort East
Meriel McClatchie: Food Production in the Bronze Age: Analysis of Plant Macro-remains from Haughey’s Fort, Co. Armagh
Gina Baban: Late Bronze Age Pottery from the Excavations at Haughey’s Fort East
Dirk Brandherm: Late Bronze Age casting debris and other base metal finds from Haughey’s Fort
R.B. Warner: The Gold Fragments from Haughey’s Fort, Co. Armagh: Description and XRF Analysis
Billy Ó Foghlú: Irish Iron Age Horns, and the Conical Spearbutt of Navan: A Mouthpiece Investigation
Chris Lynn: Some Pictish Symbols: Leatherworking Diagrams and Razor Holders?
Grigory Bondarenko: A ‘Kshatriya Revolution’ in the Ulster Cycle?
Paul Gosling: The Route of Táin Bó Cúailnge Revisited


Emania – Bulletin of the Navan Research Group 24, 2018

John Waddell: Equine Cults and Celtic Goddesses
Ronald Hicks: The Rout of Ailill and Medb: Myth on the Landscape
Joe Fenwick: The Late Prehistoric ‘Royal Site’ of Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon: An Enduring Paradigm of Enclosed Sacred Space
Mike McCarthy & Daniel Curley: Exploring the Nature of the Fráoch Saga – An Examination of Associations with the Legendary Warrior on Mag nAí
R.B. Warner: Ptolemy’s River Winderis: A Corrected Identification, a Sea-monster and Roman Material from the Adjacent Sandhills
Cóilín Ó Drisceoil & Aidan Walsh: New Radiocarbon Dates for the Black Pig’s Dyke at Aghareagh West and Aghnaskew, County Monaghan
Dirk Brandherm, Cormac McSparron, Thorsten Kahlert & James Bonsall: Topographical and Geophysical Survey at Knocknashee, Co. Sligo – Results from the 2016 Campaign
Anthony Wilkinson: Knocknashee – Local Perceptions
Patrick McCafferty: The Fear of Fairy Forts: Archaeological Preservation by Plague and Superstition


* Other publishers are available & you should support them too!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Pair of Doors



Doors should be common survivals from the past. Should be, but aren’t. As long as we’ve had formalised buildings, we’ve wanted ways to other people out and our stuff safely in. Doors are the simple, reliable technology that accomplishes this. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, historic doors simply don’t seem to survive in anything like the numbers they should. Partly, it’s because they face the weather and by the time they’re replaced, they’re more likely to be burnt for firewood than reused in another way. I also suspect that doors, from at least the medieval period onwards, could be prestige items and were salvaged and reused for as long as possible before they had to be replaced. As an analogy, I’m thinking of the repeatedly reused door jambs at Deer Park Farms, Co Antrim – if the door posts were valuable enough to be rescued and recycled into later houses, perhaps solid doors were too.


However you look at it, early doors (excuse the pun) are infrequently preserved. Just as erratic in terms of survival is decorative ironwork, which tends to corrode or be reforged into other objects. Thus, this pair of oak doors, strengthened and decorated with ironwork, are a peculiarly rare survival.


These are from Gannat in central France and date to the 13th century. Interestingly, these were created at an important juncture as from the end of the previous century new fashions in decorative ironwork in the Auvergne were emerging. These were characterised by a use of the Greek honeysuckle and palmette forms, repeated in geometric forms. However, these examples also display chiselled and scored decoration, a hallmark of earlier ironwork in the region.


Part of the reason this set of doors has survived so long is precisely that they were recycled and rehung. In particular, the marks caused by the later addition of an external door handle and a keyhole indicate that the pair were rehung upside down.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Co Leitrim: Archaeological Objects at The British Museum

The British Museum holds six items identified as coming from Co Leitrim. The majority of these (5) are assigned to the Bronze Age while the remaining artefact is assigned to the Early Medieval period. The most common object type represented are spear-heads (4). All six artefacts are made of Metal.




Bronze Age: Metal items
Leitrim
spear-head
OA.120
Copper alloy basal-looped, socketed spear-head. Blade: leaf, base curved, flat. Midrib section: lozenge with wide ridge. Incorporated loops, rectangular plates. Socket damaged. Blade edges sharp, corroded. Dark brown, bronze and green.

Kiltubbrid
spear-head
19231206.100
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, pegged. Wood traces in socket.

Cloone
dirk
WG.1600
Copper alloy dirk.

Ouguteragh
spear-head
WG.1623
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, side-looped.

Kiltubbrid
spear-head
WG.1616
Copper alloy socketed spear-head, side-looped.


Early Medieval: Metal item
Glenade Bog
bell
18690617.100
Copper alloy bell, pyramidal, two lugs and two holes on top; row of punched dots either side of one corner; rivets either side of slot in base; cast.
8thC-9thC

Thursday, August 8, 2019

‘Bellarmine’ Pottery Vessels and impure thoughts



There is a tendency among some archaeologists, myself included, to describe all and any pottery with a beardy face on it as ‘Bellarmine’. It’s supposed to be named after Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, not for his venomously anti-Protestant views as mocking him for his equally vociferous dislike of alcohol. Somewhere along the way, the name seems to have lost favour and the worthy alternative of ‘salt-glazed stoneware’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.



The jug on the left dates to around 1600 and was made in Frechen, Germany. The three medallions around its waist identify it as having been made for Jan Allers,  a Dutch bottle dealer. The patchy colourtion in blue appears to be the result of a misfiring accident – the bottle may not have come out looking exactly right, but it was still able to serve its purpose. The one on the right is slightly earlier, dating to around 1540, and is from Cologne. The face is beautifully sculpted, being closer to a genuine portrait than the much more amateur and cartoonish mask on the other example. I do wonder about the symmetry of the beard. It’s nice and all, but there is something distinctly vaginal to the arrangement. Maybe it’s just me and my corrupted mind, or maybe the sculptor was adding a further layer of mockery to Bobby Bellarmine … ‘Old Vagina Beard’! … But I’m probably just broken in some fundamental way …

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Becket Casket & thoughts on the ecclesiastical meaning of Louis Vuitton handbags




The image of a pious archbishop, brutally slaughtered in his own cathedral still resonates almost 850 years after the event. Certainly, the murder of Thomas Becket caused shockwaves throughout the christian world of its day. For all that, I still feel that the clerics of Canterbury were not shy about exploiting the event for the maximum theological and financial gain. Part of the latter must include this majestic casket. Created in Limoges in the period from 1180 to 1190 and decorated with champlevé enamel work, it is the largest, most elaborate, and probably the earliest of the 45 or so surviving examples. The decoration includes scenes from Becket’s killing, burial, and ascent into heaven. The figures on the back are variously interpreted as either saints or personifications of the four Cardinal Virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance). While the intervening decoration on this side is intricate, it and the form of the shrine itself combine to remind me more of a Louis Vuitton handbag. Although fortuitous, the resemblance allows us think about how fashion influenced the world of relics and veneration. Pilgrims badges and sundry other items were cheaply available to the masses, but caskets of this nature were of a different order entirely. In it’s day, this was an expensive object – probably used to house some of Becket’s relics – and the proud possession of a wealthy religious house.



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Don’t steal, don’t lift: Thoughts on the consequences of plagiarism


Regular readers of this blog will be aware that a little while back I got into a tussle with a number of senior staff members at University College London and Plymouth University. The short version is that Andrew Bevan, Sue Colledge, Dorian Fuller, Ralph Fyfe, Stephen Shennan, and Chris Stevens (all at UCL) along with Ralph Fyfe (PU) published a paper called Holocene fluctuations in human population demonstrate repeated links to food production and climate in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Unfortunately for me, they neglected to give due credit to the fact that they’d made use of my IR&DD Radiocarbon dates resource (the Catalogue of Radiocarbon Determinations & Dendrochronology Dates). Unfortunately for them, Andrew Bevan told me about it. I was initially annoyed at what I thought was an oversight, but this was as nothing when I found that Bevan did not believe he’s done anything wrong. My work was simply not of sufficient import to warrant mention. I complained to their respective establishments and to the publishing journal.

I was ill-prepared for the events as they unfolded. Both universities, rather than acknowledging a wrong and seeking to put it right, attempted to delay, obfuscate, and downright gaslight me to defend the reputations of their employees. Both universities referred to their internal guidelines on plagiarism that offered a markedly more restrictive view of the term than that which they would apply to their own students and happily announced their employees cleared of all charges. Only the PNAS journal acknowledged that wrongdoing had occurred and eventually published a revised version of the paper with a front-page correction that acknowledged plagiarism not just against my work but, by my count, catalogued some 18 separate counts of plagiarism against 26 researchers.

That’s the short version. Seriously.


The other point I’d note is that in assessing how I might avoid such a situation in the future, I decided to add a section to the Radiocarbon catalogue detailing the expected form of acknowledgment. I also took the step of listing the authors of the PNAS paper individually and stating that they are banned from making any use of my research in the future. To be on the safe side, knowing how their universities will protect plagiarists, I also banned all UCL and UP staff members from using it and, just for good measure, anyone publishing in PNAS. To the best of my knowledge, such an action is unprecedented in academic publishing. In a blog post supporting this updated version of the Catalogue [here] I noted that I had no particular expectation that these unprincipled individuals would be deterred by a simple ban. Afterall, “plagiarisers gonna plagiarise”. My only real hope was that having their names so prominently called out would alert other scholars to their nefarious practices and give them a wide berth.

I published the Three Billboards post in May 2018 and, after quite a bit of social media discussion, things went rather quiet. Sure, I’d repost it every once in a while, when I got angry at hearing about another case of a researcher (usually female) having their work plagiarised by another (usually older, tenured, & male). But I’d not exactly heard anything from this little Gang of Six.

Until recently …

Screenshot of text (Shennan et al. 2017, np)

One evening last week I was made aware of a paper called Supply and Demand in Prehistory? Economics of Neolithic Mining in NW Europe (NEOMINE) by none other than the redoubtable Stephen Shennan and Andy Bevan, among others (Shennan et al. 2017). It’s published by the journal Archaeology International. I’m sure that the paper has many fine qualities, deserving of a reader’s time. I, however, was drawn to the enigmatic Publisher’s note that merely read “The acknowledgement was updated after the print version of this paper had been distributed.” Intrigued, dear reader, I headed to those very Acknowledgments and found what appears to be a hastily inserted link to the IR&DD project website. I may be over estimating my importance in this, but my work is the only one graced with a URL, so it may not be terribly unreasonable to imagine that this is the ‘update’ of which they speak. If anyone has a print version for comparison, I’d be grateful to see it.
Screenshot of text (Shennan et al. 2017, np)

Locations of the mines and quarries in the analysis and their 100km radius hinterlands, including areas of overlap (Shennan et al. 2017, Fig 1b)

There’s a lovely graphic representation of what those Irish dates added to this research in their map. Figure 1b (reproduced here) ‘shows the locations of the mines and quarries in the analysis and their 100km radius hinterlands, including areas of overlap’. There are areas of interest in various parts of England, Wales, and the north-eastern Scotland, as well as ones centred on sites in Northern Ireland and eastern Ireland.

Although there is no direct admission of their plagiarism, I am honestly grateful that they were spurred on to attempt to correct their deliberate omission. I’m prepared to overlook that the ‘update’ was to the Acknowledgments section and did not stretch to placing the citation in the References section where it belongs. I’m prepared to ignore the fact that my name is given as just ‘R’ rather than my preferred ‘R M’. Damnit, I’m even prepared to accept the fact that they couldn’t even be bothered to get the name of the resource right (The project is Irish Radiocarbon & Dendrochronological Dates. The published resource is Catalogue of Radiocarbon Determinations & Dendrochronology Dates. Is that so dashed hard to distinguish?).

One way or another, that’s the end of it. All goes quiet once again …

Thing is …

That’s not where the story ends.

In March 2019 the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology publishes ‘Supply and demand in prehistory? Economics of Neolithic mining in northwest Europe’. It’s practically the same title as the previous paper and has all the same authors as the previous paper. This time round there are two additional authors, one of which is Ralph Fyfe from University of Plymouth. You may remember him as a co-author of the PNAS paper that started this whole thing off.

Of course, the two papers have near identical titles as the 2019 one is a clear expansion of the 2017 one. All the English, Scottish, and Welsh areas of interest are there, now augmented with data from a large portion of northern France, as well as Denmark and southern Sweden. The other major change is that the Irish data has completely vanished. Poof! Gone! Goodbye! The 2019 paper never mentions the Irish sites. More than that, the 2019 paper never even mentions the 2017 one. It’s like 2017 never existed! Quite a few things happened in 2017 that I wish we could erase (Theresa May as PM, anyone?), but I'd not go quite so far as to delete the whole year!

Hinterland circles showing mines, dates and pollencore locations (Schaur et al. 2019, Fig 1)

Either way, speculation on Schaur et al.’s apparent wish to be disassociated from the Shennan et al. paper is not my central aim here. My first thought on seeing the Irish data excluded from this work was one of genuine sadness. I felt that although the ban on these authors from using my work was wholly justified, it was regrettable that the Irish material could not now play its fullest role in international-oriented work such as this. Had I done the right thing? Was my pig-headedness the reason that the Irish material wasn’t receiving due recognition?

I genuinely considered instantly lifting the ban so such a situation could never arise again. I find it difficult to articulate, but I was first angry at myself for having put these authors in the position that they couldn’t use the data. I was then angry at myself for, even after all this time, being able to rationalise that poor old Bevan and his cronies are the victims of this and not me.

I’ve thought it over and I came to the realisation that the ban is working. They had to revise the later edition of their work to exclude material that they knew they were no longer entitled. I’ve not given Bevan much credit for integrity, but maybe he has some here. Or, perhaps, this wasn’t his decision at all – who knows? To my mind, it reads as a quiet acknowledgment by the authors that they did wrong and feel that they must abide by the terms of the ban. It reaffirms my view that the ban was the right decision and one that I would heartily advocate to others who have seen their work plagiarised by other researchers.

It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. And there’s certainly no guarantee of formal success. But shouting out about it is the only way that any change will ever happen. Be prepared to be ignored by the authors, delayed and gaslighted by their universities. But know that you can still make your voice heard and warn others as to what’s in the characters of these people and how much both they and their published work is to be trusted.


References
Schauer, P., Shennan, S., Bevan, A., Cook, G., Edinborough, K., Fyfe, R., Kerig, T., & Pearson, M. P. 2019 Supply and demand in prehistory? Economics of Neolithic mining in northwest Europe. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 54, 149-160.

Shennan, S., Bevan, A., Edinborough, K., Kerig, T., Pearson, M. P., & Schauer, P., 2017. Supply and Demand in Prehistory? Economics of Neolithic Mining in NW Europe (NEOMINE). Archaeology International 20, 74-79.


Note
The first part of the title is taken from Bob Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'. But, of couse, you knew that.