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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How to Become a Modern Viking: A Beginner’s Guide to Living History

How to Become a Modern Viking: A Beginner’s Guide to Living History

There has been a big upsurge of living history events across Europe over the last few years as well as a rising popular interest in the Viking Age. A lot of this might be fuelled by the roaring success of a certain, glaringly unhistorical, TV show. At the same time, a lot of archaeologists are realizing that living history happens to be a very effective way of promoting cultural heritage. Whatever the reason, a lot people now show an interest…

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An Introduction to Experimental Archaeology

An Introduction to Experimental Archaeology

On those occasions when I get to interact with other representatives of the human race, people tend to ask me about what I happen to be doing with my life. My usual reply is that I study experimental archaeology. This is commonly followed by a question along the lines of ‘That sounds cool, but… What does an experimental archaeologist actually do?’ Since this topic does seem to raise some interest both of the public, as well as of some archaeologists…

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A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

All grace goes to the givers. A guest has arrived, but where shall we sit him? Anxious is he who sits at the heart to test his mettle. A fire is the first thing a wanderer wants if frozen to the knee. Dry garb and grub are a must for whoever’s come over the mountains. Water is a want for someone who’s come for a meal, a towel and a warm welcome. Good nature, if they can get it, both…

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