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Author: Harald

The End of an Era: A Year in Perspective

The End of an Era: A Year in Perspective

On the 16th of August I handed in my master thesis, titled ‘The Ironworker’s Craft’, which I submitted at University College Dublin, as the final part of the MSc in Experimental Archaeology in Material Culture. Thus ends an 18 year period of my life, which was mostly spent in various educational institutions, although those who know me can testify, that I was quite proficient at distracting myself with various ‘side projects’ during that period. Six years of this period were…

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More Smelting Experiments at University College Dublin

More Smelting Experiments at University College Dublin

It was Tuesday the 20th of June and the weather was approaching that rare state of the skin-melting Irish heatwave. (Yes, these things do exist. The Sun rarely gazes upon this green island, but when it does, it does so with a vengeance most vicious.) In order to ease ourselves into the spirit of the summer solstice, and to show the treacherous orb in the sky that we do not go down so easily, we ran another bloomery smelt. (I…

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An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part I: Theory

An Introduction to Iron Smelting – Part I: Theory

Smelting your own iron by digging up ore, clay and sand, and turning them into a bar iron using heat and hard work alone, is a transformative process which carries much mystery and appeal. The whole act of taking what is essentially dirt and transforming it into iron and steel, which can then be turned into objects both useful and beautiful, still captivates the imagination of artisans, archaeologists and chance observers alike. I have already touched upon the topic iron…

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An Ode to the Bog

An Ode to the Bog

Thus I found myself, wearing an orange hi-viz vest in the middle of a stripped bog. The sun was shining and there was a pleasant breeze. I was on my knees, crawling through the black soil, scooping up with my bare hands pieces of rust-colored, crumbly rock. It was a day out, a field-trip with friends and colleagues. They were engaged in similar activities, devoting their attention to the ground bellow them. You may wonder what all of this is…

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A Visit to the Netherlands: EAC 10

A Visit to the Netherlands: EAC 10

A week ago I visited Leiden to attend the 10th Experimental Archaeology Conference, organised by EXARC and held 20-22 April 2017. This was my first visit to the Netherlands in years, probably my first proper visit and definitely the first time that I have experienced the wonders of Leiden. EXARC is an organisation which binds together archaeological open-air museums, experimental archaeologists and others who explore ancient technologies and public engagement. Needles to say, a conference organised and attended by their…

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A Week of Iron Smelting at University College Dublin

A Week of Iron Smelting at University College Dublin

Last week, I finally took a little break from the keyboard-bashing and computer-staring, which forms the basis of my student life, by spending a week covered in dirt. As part of a postgraduate module on experimental archaeology at UCD’s School of Archaeology, we dedicated half the spring break to exploring the nature of iron production in early medieval Ireland. Thus I spent 5 days assisting Brendan O’Neill – one of the school’s PhD students and the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology…

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7 Reasons for Buying Craft Products

7 Reasons for Buying Craft Products

Craft objects can be truly beautiful works of art. At the same time, it is a simple fact that handmade object will cost more than industrial mass production. This begs the question: What are the advantages offered by craft which off-set the price difference. Why should you spend so much on a knife, pot, piece of jewellery, furniture, clothing, leatherowork, etc.? Caleb Harris, writing for Broke Bladesmith, addressed some of this in a piece on handmade knives. I would like to add…

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Of Modern Man, Technology & Materiality

Of Modern Man, Technology & Materiality

“The available worlds looked pretty grim. They had little to offer him because he had little to offer them. He had been extremely chastened to realise that although he originally came from a world which had cars and computers and ballet and armagnac he didn’t, by himself, know how any of it worked. He couldn’t do it. Left to his own devices he couldn’t build a toaster. He could just about make a sandwich and that was it. There was…

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The Smelter’s Tale: Experimental Archaeology & Craft

The Smelter’s Tale: Experimental Archaeology & Craft

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid — Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade. “Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall, “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.” – Rudyard Kipling: ‘Cold Iron’ (1910) – In my Introduction to Experimental Archaeology, I have described experimental archaeology as the testing of archaeological hypotheses based on the excavated record by reproducing and using archaeological finds. In other words, testing our presumptions about…

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Why Authenticity Matters: A Letter to Reenactors & Event Organizers

Why Authenticity Matters: A Letter to Reenactors & Event Organizers

Various ‘historical festivals’ are spreading across Europe like wildfire. They seem to be spreading from the north to the south with the medieval festival/market/experience being the most common culprit in Central Europe. While some of these events have standing traditions, a lot of them sprung up in the last few years. I have attended one of these events last summer, just before I left Slovenia behind. Until that point, I have largely abstained from partaking in reenactment in that part…

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