Category: PhD blog

NSG2016 – the art of the academic poster

On Monday 28th November the Neolithic Studies Group had their annual meeting at the British Museum (check out the #NSG2016 hashtag for live tweets!). This year the theme was Food and Farming Systems, so right up my street! I was interested in attending but hadn’t thought to present any of my research when I got an email from the conference organisers, who I know through the NeoMilk project, asking me if I would like to present a poster. Apart from an assignment in my Master’s year I had never made an academic poster before! I thought I would write blog post about the trials and tribulations of doing just that (part 1), followed by an overview of the conference experience (part 2)!

My poster detailed our recent JAS: reports paper on Fracture History Profiles. These graphs use fracture freshness analysis to display sequences of butchery and taphonomy that have affected archaeological contexts over time. Observable types of fractures on animal bone (fresh [peri-mortem], dry or mineralised) are recorded based on fracture characteristics. Fracture sequences (bone fractured more than once over time) are grouped by the first fracture that must have occurred based on moisture loss, and then displayed as a proportion of the number of fractured bones. This methodology was applied to a case study – contexts from the Linearbandkeramik site of Ludwinowo 7 in Poland.


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Caprine Jaw Ageing

I help teach an undergraduate zooarchaeology class on a Tuesday morning. They learn basic zooarchaeology, and I largely help with the identification sections when they have a set of bones (usually two or three different elements, the ‘bones of the week’) and identify them to species. This week, however, is the session when the students are taught how to determine age-at-death from sheep and goat jaws, based on tooth eruption and wear. I made a flow chart to help students with this, which I’ve shared below. I had real trouble with this when I was an undergrad and making and following this flowchart helped me immensely!

The first few steps of the flowchart, available to download below.

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‘Trigger Warnings’ and Archaeology

Anyone following archaeological news lately may have seen a spate of articles concerning ‘trigger’ warnings for students attending archaeology lectures. The general gist of the reporting, first in the Daily Mail but also picked up by the Spectator and others, more recently the Independent, was that students were being pre-warned of sensitive content in lectures and allowed to skip classes that they might find particularly difficult. The articles ridiculed lecturers practising this, arguing that this was stifling academic discussion and just another example of how modern students are mollycoddled. The comments section was particularly unpleasant, with internet users delighting in ‘political correctness gone mad’ and spitting abuse at the ‘special snowflakes’ of today’s youth.

The Daily Mail strikes again. I was going to post a picture of some comments from the Spectator but I honestly can’t bring myself to do it. They’re truly disgusting.

Through my twitter feed I saw things unfold from a different perspective. Gabriel Moshenska, who was the original subject of the Daily Mail article, posted a series of tweets about the content of the article. Archaeologists quickly began to come to the defence of Dr Moshenska – including colleagues and past students – and this great article was published on the conversation. I don’t know Dr Moshenska myself, but the issues raised in this debate have really struck a chord with me. I’m a bit late to the discussion, but here’s my experience of ‘sensitive’ archaeology, as a student and increasingly as a teacher. Continue reading “‘Trigger Warnings’ and Archaeology”

ICAZ Taphonomy Working Group 2016, Paris

ICAZ Taphonomy Working Group 2016, Paris

At the beginning of September, I went to Paris to attend the fourth meeting of the ICAZ Taphonomy working group. This fantastic conference was a great opportunity for me to present my newly-published article (Johnson et al. 2016) and meet some colleagues old and new. Accompanied by my zooarch buddy Malene, another Exeter PhD student, we arrived in a sweltering Paris on Tuesday 6th September, settled quickly into our small but ideal AirBnB near the conference venue, and made our final preparations for three days of conferencing!

The conference was held in the beautiful grounds of the Jardin des Plantes. A ten-minute walk from our AirBnB each morning brought us to the entrance of the impressive Grand Gallerie de l’Evolution, where the presentations were being given in a well-equipped, modern conference room to the side of the main museum.

Of course there’s a statue of a giant vertebrae in the Jardin des Plantes!

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Let it go: Giving up PGtips

Let it go: Giving up PGtips

I’m a PhD student in her final year – it’s time to start jettisoning non-essential baggage!

Taking it on

In the archaeology department we have a student seminar series called PGtips, a witty pun on the abbreviation for postgraduate (PG) and a brand of tea! Each session features two twenty minute presentations from postgraduates in the department (although we have had visiting speakers in the past).It runs about once a month, and gives students the opportunity to showcase their research, practice conference presentations and try out ideas in a relaxed environment. It is well attended by masters, PhD students and post docs alike, and is a social as much as an academic event – we all head to the pub for the equally witty PGtipsy afterwards! Continue reading “Let it go: Giving up PGtips”