Karavostasi (Gemikonagi), Cyprus

Karavostasi (Gemikonağı), Cyprus: a village buckling under the strain of its history.
Karavostasi (Gemikonağı), Cyprus: a village buckling under the strain of its history.

Karavostasi was a long-mixed village, with a proud history of bicommunal labour and struggle; then it was struck by two acute waves of the Cyprus Conflict, and resource depletion, and it never recovered. Now, even the material evidence of the communities’ coexistence and cooperation is breaking up and disappearing.

Its original, Greek-language name means “boat stop”, “mooring point for ships”, ‘anchorage for sailing vessels’; its alternative, Turkish-language name, Gemikonağı, is a direct translation. In 55 years, the settlement grew from a hamlet of fishers, into a port for citrus export, into a centre for mineral processing, which was more than 80 times its original size.

Then Greek Cypriot paramilitaries forced out its Turkish Cypriot villagers in 1963 and 1964; the copper began to peter out in 1970 (Feridun, 2000: 115); and Turkish soldiers drove out its Greek Cypriot villagers in 1974. The community, which had pulled in workers from across the island, was cast out across the island. The village shrank to a sixth of its peak size, re-inhabited by Turkish Cypriot families who had left a decade earlier, and by new Turkish Cypriot refugees.

In a process that encompasses the conflict, cultural decay/destruction and organised crime, some of the abandoned buildings have been converted into sites of sex slavery.

Feridun, F K. 2000: “Lefke kasabası’nın tarihsel boyutunda bir kesit: Kıbrıs Maden Şirketi (Cyprus Mines Corporation – CMC) ve bugünkü demografik yapı [A cross-section of Lefke town’s historical dimensions: the Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMC – Kıbrıs Maden Şirketi) and today’s demographic structure]”. Journal of Cyprus Studies, Number 16/17, 111-124.

Koreh Ardeshir

Khoreh Ardeshir - no I don't know what it is either. Photo by dynamosquito
Khoreh Ardeshir - no I don't know what it is either

Khoreh Ardeshir, Sasanian palace at Buzpar (say Boshpar), close to the achemenid tomb aka Gur Dokhtar”, says the photo description. I guess that’s not a standard Romanisation of the name, as I can find very little on the web to give me much of a clue as to what this is. The Sasanians were very big in the Middle East between 300 and 600 CE, and a pain to the Romans, so this could be something very interesting. If you have any information please feel free to add it in the comments below.

The reason I’ve chosen it as a photo of the week is that I like the effect of the converging parallel lines.

Photo: Khoreh Ardeshir by Dynamosquito. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.

Croxden Abbey

[yt video=vohLD32fyNw]Croxden Abbey Illusion[/yt]

I’m trying to catch up with work, hence the skipped week. You can see the work at aobblog.com, which is a HTML5 page template among other things. Something more interesting is the Photo Search tool for botanical photos. If I can write a search engine for botanical images, then I can write one for archaeological images. When I get time to look over this site I’ll look at adding a similar engine. If you’d like to request archaeological photo pools to search, then leave a comment below.

Because I’m pushed for time it’ll be something I made a while ago that I put up as photo of the week. It’s based on this image of Croxden Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey dating from the 13th and 14th centuries. For the optical illusion, you need to stare at the black dot at the centre of the image. After around 30 seconds something will happen, but will you see a colour image or is it black and white?

Linda Shevitz, Maryland Women’s Heritage Center

Why the West Side Matters: Linda Shevitz, Maryland Women's Heritage Center
Why the West Side Matters: Linda Shevitz, Maryland Women's Heritage Center. Photo by Baltimore Heritage.

It’s easy to take women’s equality for granted. Particularly if you’re a man. In my own case a female friend said that Prof. X.* had a habit of ignoring female grad students. I replied he’d never noticed that when I’d had to see him and, after about five minutes, I realised why. But we have history books, empowered rap artistes and occasionally a middle-aged politician will helpfully highlight what has changed by ranting about feminists promoting drug abuse, communism or inappropriate transport for marine life. Do we need physical places as well? Whatever the state of equality, it’s hard to see removing an old building changing the law.

At Baltimore Heritage, you can read why it matters as part of a series on Baltimore’s West Side. The Center acts as a focus for research and community based around women’s heritage, and there’s plenty there as you can see at their website. But even if the center were rubbish, I’d still argue it’s physically important. As Eli notes in his post, the corner was a site of a major open-air rally, that eventually lead to the passing of the 19th amendment. Places don’t just have locations, they have associations. They can be personal, the place where you first kissed your beloved or where you were first arrested. They can be communal. I used to live somewhere that has markers for plague infested traders, public hangings and a small but thorough massacre.+ Having somewhere that has positive connotations as a touchstone for a community is something worth holding on to.

The reason I’ve chosen this photo is partly because Baltimore Heritage has been up to a lot of interesting work this summer with their public Civil War digs. There’s also a chance to work there yourself. If you’re in the USA, you can access this page advertising a post for a Historic Preservation Officer. If, like me, you’re not American you can visit the page, get blocked and logged and then ask for a link to the site. The reply was impressively fast. The other reason is that often when I take photos indoors near displays I get a colour cast on my photos. This photo is well-lit, evenly exposed and has what looks like a good white balance.

Photo: Why the West Side Matters: Linda Shevitz, Maryland Women’s Heritage Center by Baltimore Heritage. Photo licenced under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.

*Unnamed as it’s my friend’s decision not mine whether or not to give details, and as you can see she had enough problems already.

+They were Vikings, so they tend not to get much sympathy.

Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History, University of Oregon, 1966

Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History (now the Museum of Natural and Cultural History), University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (USA) 1966
Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History, University of Oregon, 1966

I’ve been looking to use one of John Atherton’s photos for a while. He has a lot of photos of archaeologists at work in both the USA and Africa. I chose this one as it gives me a sense of peering into the past.

I’m not entirely sure what we have this week, but I can say we have something on Korean archaeology tomorrow from Martin Bale and Mark Byington tomorrow. It also has an excellent photo of archaeologists at work. If all goes well I’ll also have a reliable broadband connection from tomorrow, which could revolutionise how I use the internet – like I’ll be able to use the internet and chase up emails.

Photo: Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History (now the Museum of Natural and Cultural History), University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon (USA) 1966 by John Atherton. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.

Are you looking at me?

Bust of Caracalla.
A Quizzical Look. Photo by Trey Ratcliff.

This is the best shot I’ve seen of the hall of Roman Emperors in Naples. It’s by Trey Ratcliff, better known for his HDR work at Stuck in Customs. HDR is a method for compensating for wide variations in brightness for exposures, and so it’s usually very well suited for indoor work with natural light from outside, which makes it more unusual that this photo isn’t HDR. You can find his tutorial on the technique at his site.

Hopefully there will be more posts this week. I’ve been cut off from the internet to a large extent after moving house, and will be for a while yet. Everyone else is on fieldwork – which is more fun.

Photo: A Quizzical Look by Trey Ratcliff. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence.

Ancient Guide

An inuksuk in Nunavut
An inuksuk in Nunavut. Photo by Mike Beauregard

In the northern hemisphere it’s the hottest part of summer, so I thought this week I’d chose a nice upbeat summer photo. It is a summer photo, taken the second of July 2009, I checked. This is an Inuksuk, a marker found in the arctic of Canada. It’s easy to see the arctic as a desolate wasteland. A marker like this shows how different it could be. Physically it’s a pile of rocks. It’s probably a sturdy pile of rocks because any pile of rocks that isn’t sturdy will be blown over rapidly by the arctic winds. Yet pile of rocks says very little about what it is. And from the way I’m rambling it should be obvious I don’t know what it means. It could be a navigational guide, or a warning or simply a sign that other people were here.

There is a danger that Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) will become increasingly rare due to expansion of the mining and energy industries. One the one hand this isn’t a physical problem. As Scott Heyes points out in his article Protecting the authenticity and integrity of Inuksuit within the arctic milieu, things like GPS are replacing traditional methods of navigation. Yet Inuksuit are not just about navigation to physical places. There’s a cultural landscape as well as a physical landscape and so far this has not been replicated with GPS. Given that native shamans of the arctic would say that they were walking over the ice to the Moon, that could be quite a navigational feat to replicate.*

If Inuksuit say someone was here, is their removal an archaeologically traceable sign that someone was removed?

Photo: Ancient Guide by Mike Beauregard. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY licence.

*Walking to the moon is an interesting concept. This far north in the summer the Moon doesn’t really leave the southern horizon, so for a while it’s easy to conceive of the Moon touching the Earth. Also, the plural of shaman really is shamans. Shamen is a pop group not an anthropological term<.

Digging in the Dark

Archaeologists digging in the dark
Digging in the Dark by Wessex Archaeology

It was the Day of Archaeology last Friday. Unfortunately I didn’t get a post in, despite days of archaeology clearly including night sometimes as this photo shows. I had to check I hadn’t already chosen this as a photo of the week, because it’s one I keep coming back to. Usually the aim of a photo is detail, but here the silhouette of the diggers gives it much more drama.

It also reminds me of the dig at Tanis conducted by Prof. Henry Jones Jr. shortly before the Second World War.

Photo: Digging in the Dark by Wessex Archaeology. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence.

Atavistic Archetypes of Beauty

Denis Dutton holding an Acheulian hand axe
Denis Dutton holding an Acheulian hand axe. Photo by Steve Jurvetson

The photo isn’t merely beautiful, it’s about beauty. It comes from a talk by Denis Dutton at TED called A Darwinian theory of beauty. It’s chosen for the depth of field which puts the focus firmly on the handaxe and makes the presenter blur slightly in the background. The completely out-of-focus distant background is colourful, but serves to highlight the handaxe. It’s an imaginative way of having human interest in the shot without the human figure drawing attention away from the subject. Often putting a human in shot makes the photo about the person and not the artefact.

Photo: Atavistic Archetypes of Beauty by Steve Jurvetson. Licenced under a Creative Commons BY licence.

Nine Points on a Finger

Nine flint points on a finger.
Nine Points on a Finger. Photo by Buzz Hoffmann

This is a photo taken from Brian Hoffmann’s photostream on Flickr. These points are from his fieldwork in Alaska. The usual favoured explanation is that these are toys, but Brian thinks they are more likely to be tools. He’s certainly finding a lot of them, and he keeps on finding them. How many points do you have to find before you start thinking they have a serious purpose.

I chose this as Photo of the Week because it fits the tools theme, and the scale of the points is extraordinary. If I were digging the site I’d be cheerfully trowelling away these without noticing them. Even if someone said “Hey! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” and pointed them out to me, I still think I’d be missing a lot of them. The other reason is that it gives me a chance to plug his blog at Old Dirt – New thoughts, where you can currently follow a dig in Minnesota.

Photo: Nine Points on a Finger by Brian Hoffmann. Licenced under a BY-NC-SA licence.