Ella Sophia Armitage – Mistress of The Norman Mottes

Ella Sophia Armitage

For our next early female archaeologist I want to introduce you to Ella Sophia Armitage.

Armitage was a particular challenge for me, as many of the women I will introduce you to will be, since there is so little known about her as a person, other than she lived. It’s aggravating  but this is the product of so many years of ignoring and downplaying the contributions of women in our society  All we can do is try to piece things back together and reconstruct what was forgotten.

Sadly, what we know about Ella is cobbled together through surviving correspondences, her academic writing, and notes.  Though we know she kept personal journals, they are lost to us. What we know we’ve pieced together from her husband’s journals, letters to her cohorts, and her apparently copious academic notes. What this gives us is a picture of a very sturdy academic mind, but very little personal information. Still, her contributions were very important in the area of Irish archaeology, in a time when the practice was in its infancy.

During the mid 91th cen in Europe there was a revival of medieval studies focusing mostly on castles from the Normand, English, and Welsh traditions (Counihan 1998).  The presence and history of Scottish and Irish castles were seen as fringe (Counihan 1998). This view caused quite the controversy in the academic community, one that Armitage weighed into fearlessly.

Ella Sophia Armitage was born Ella Sophia Bulley on 3 March 1841 in Liverpool, to Samuel Marshall Bulley, a cotton merchant, and Mary Rachel Raffles (Wiki). She enjoyed early education and encouragement to be a voracious student from a young age by her uncle Rev James Baldwin Brown (Counihan 1998), and she entered Newnham College in 1874 were she was the first ever research student (Counihan 1998).

Ella became Mrs. Armitage in 1874 when she married the Reverend Elkanah Armitage, and the couple had two children during their marriage. From 1877 to 1879 she taught history at Owens College, Manchester, and developed her interest in medieval earthworks and castles (Ogilvie 2000:54). She took copious and detailed notes during her time as a student and teacher, being recognized as an expert, her notes were  were archived by the Yorkshire Archaeological Socisites in Leeds after her death (Counihan 1998).

Armitage had a great love for Irish castles, referred to as motte-and-bailey castles, or mottes (Counihan 1998). In 1895 she and her husband along with their young son, Godfrey, took a trip to Ireland to visit Armagh, Sligo, and Dublin (Counihan 1998). Her husband was completely unimpressed with the area, but Armitage and her son spent the trip examining as many mottes as they could, returning after the trip to further explore. It was during this time that her first major paper was presented to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland by her cousin Gerard Baldwin Brown on her behalf  as women were not permitted to to speak at this time (Counihan 1998).

She also compiled a list of  Norman mottes throughout Ireland from Goddard Orpen’s translation of “The Song of Dermot and the Earl” and Sweetmen’s “Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland 1171-1307”, then sent her nephew Basil Stallybass to inspect 62 of them (Counihan 1998). Stallybass was an architect and well acquainted with earthworks and he sent her sketches and detailed descriptions of 32 of locations (Counihan 1998). She used these notes to write several articles on the mottes over a decade or so showing that the mottes were were not constructed until after the 1066 Norman conquest of England, so they were not the burghs of the Anglo-Saxon, as had previously been thought, but actual Norman Castles (Castles, Ogilvie 2000:54). She eventually collected these articles and published them in a two part article in “The Antiquary” in August and September of 1906 (Castels). Then in 1912 in her seminal work, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles, was published along with Stallybass’ notes on his investigations.

The real battle over Irish Mottes begin with the 1902 publishing of T.J. Westropp‘s paper in the “Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy” on the ancient forts of Ireland (Counihan 1998). His  conclusions didn’t sit well with Goddard Henry Orpen, and the two began a debate in print, into which G.T. Clark was drawn (Counihan 1998). Clark’s comments drew the attention of Armitage and John Horace Round and the war of words began (Counihan 1998).  This “battle in print that spanned the Irish sea (Counihan 1998)”, apparently solidified Orpen’s and Armitage’s alliance and friendship and the two went on to collaborate and associate the rest of her life (Counihan 1998).

According to the Wiki, Armitage went on to be the assistant commissioner to James Bryce on the Royal Commission on Secondary Education to investigate girls’ education in Devon in 1894, and apparently led a full and seemingly rewarding life.

It would have been more rewarding to have a more personal look at Armitage, but I think we can draw a pretty complete picture of her from the surviving letters and notes from her. It took a very strong and forward thinking woman to not only step into a man’s world, but to challenge him in his own arena. She was certainly no shirking violet as she confronted Westropp, and others, when she believed they were wrong. She proved herself competent as a researcher, not only in college but in directing her nephew in their joint investigations of the Irish mottes. She was also not afraid to publish her own views and research, eventually proving her own ideas to be correct.

She also advocated for women’s education. She not only trail blazed with her own acceptance to Newnham College, but continued to work for the education and advancement of women though her own professorship and appointment to assistant commissioner. Her notes are still preserved for research, and her book The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles, is lauded as being one of the most important works on Normand Castles.

Ella Sophia Armitage, certainly left her mark on the world of archaeology, for that I am happy to call her a Mother of the Field.


 

For more in this series check out Mother’s of the Field.

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com

Resources:

Counihan, Joan.
1998   “Mrs Ella Armitage and Isish Archaeology.” Anglo-Norman Studies: XX. Proceedings of the Battle Conference in Dublin 1997, Edited by Christopher Harper-Bill. The Boydell Press Woodbridge, Suffolk. http://bit.ly/XCJC40.  Retrieved Jan. 19 2013.

Ogilvie, Marilyn
2000   “Armitage, Ella Sophia A (Bulley) (1841–1931)”. The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science. London: Routledge.

The Castle Studies Group
Nd      “Ella Armitage” The Castle Studies Group. http://www.castlestudiesgroup.org.uk/page93.html. Retrieved Jan. 19 2013.

The Loss of Aaron Swartz, the Need for Open Access, and a Comment on Depression.

Hey everybody! I know, it’s Tuesday…I’m behind…yah…I’ll get to fixing that.

Before I do, I wanted to talk a little about Open Access and Aaron Swartz. There isn’t a whole lot I can add to the discussion. What happened to Swartz, and what was going to happen to him was, in a word, horrible. It’s horrible that MIT and the US Government hounded him to an early grave, it’s horrible that he was sentenced to more prison time than a serial rapist or mass murderer, and it’s horrible that all this was over the access to and sharing of academic information.

We, those of us who are part of or participating in academia, should be ashamed of ourselves, because We are the ones that allowed this to happen. Fortunately, WE are also the ones who can change it.

Many others who are much better informed on this topic have talked about it, and instead of ranting on here, I thought it would be better to link articles and quote the parts that stuck out to me. I encourage you to read the articles in full and follow the links in them. I also encourage you to do what you can to push for the free and open publication of academic papers.

Carl Sagon urged that ideas and information be free and open to all, to do otherwise would create a “priesthood” of professionals and encourage the dissemination of pseudoscience in an information starved would. He’s right, as anyone who is aware of the Anti-Vaxer movement can attest too, or anyone trying to combat the idea of ancient alien visitors knows.  One of these is simply annoying, the other is deadly, both could be remedied by open access and the education of the public.

So, please read the articles, and feel free to comment. I’ll see you later this week with our regularly scheduled postings.

RIP, Aaron Swartz by 

Not gonna lie, this is really hard to read, manly for the end where the author discusses Swartz battle with depression.

Most people think they have depression, but they don’t . They have blue days, and they’re stressed, but real depression is more than that. It’s not easy to shake or to think clearly when you’re in the grips of it. And you are in the grips of it. It’s a living, breathing thing that holds onto you and won’t let go. You don’t just “get over it”, and you don’t just have a happy thought and suddenly life is all good again. It sneaks up on you, it ambushes you, it isolates you, and it lies to you. I’m not “puzzled” as to why Swartz did what he did, I am sad that he did, but I understand.

Archaeology, Open Access, and the Passing of Aaron Swartz by Eric Kansa

“We have to remember, we, as a discipline work in the public interest.” (emphasis mine)

“There are many excellent reasons to promote Open Access in archaeology, summarized in this recent issue of World Archaeology dedicated to the subject. But the Swartz case helps to highlight another. Professional society reluctance (in the case of the SAA) or outright opposition against Open Access (AIAAAA) puts many researchers at risk. Many researchers, particularly our colleagues in public, CRM, and contract archaeology or our colleagues struggling as adjunct faculty, either totally lack or regularly lose affiliations with institutions that subscribe to pay-wall resources like JSTOR. Many of these people beg logins from their friends and colleagues lucky enough to have access. Similarly, file-sharing of copyright protected articles is routine. Email lists and other networks regularly see circulation of papers, all under legally dubious circumstances. Essentially, we have a (nearly?) criminalized underclass of researchers who bend and break rules in order to participate in their professional community. It is a perverse travesty that we’ve relegated essential professional communications to an quasi-legal/illegal underground, when we’re supposedly a community dedicated to advancing the public good through the creation of knowledge about the past.”

“It’s time we also start seeing the ugliness in the current dissemination status quo, where the information outputs of archaeology become privatized, commoditized, intellectual property. This status quo carries the baggage of a legally oppressive system of copyright control, surveillance, and draconian punishments. Rather than dismissing Open Access off-hand, we have an ethical obligation to at least try to find financially sustainable modes of Open Access publication (see Lake 2012,  Kansa 2012 [pay-wall][open-access pre-print]).”

Fred Limp (SAA President) Responding to Open Access in Archaeology by Eric Kansa and Fred Limp

“However, the SAA is but one publisher. Even if its publication costs are relatively low, archaeological discourse takes place across many, many titles, typically managed by expensive commercial publishers. Legally accessing these requires institutional affiliations to get e-Journals, JSTOR and all the rest. Though you may get a few titles with your SAA membership, researchers lacking academic affiliations are still cut-off from the great majority of scholarly discourse. Most of them are stuck with extra-legal workarounds, putting these researchers in dire legal jeopardy. While I can understand Fred’s concern over financing SAA publications (and motivating membership), accepting the dysfunctions and legal dangers of pay-walls and strong intellectual property does not advance the interests of archaeologists or archaeology.”

Archaeology, Open Access, RIP Aaron Swartz

“I was at the Society of Historical Archaeology’s conference last week and in a panel discussion the issue of access to resources was brought up. Again, the time worn excuse that “we can’t go open access because then no one would join our society was used”. What I then said was, “well, have you polled your members to actually see why they join your society? The SAS polled theirs and found only a small percentage joined because of the journal.”

“What I wanted to say (and what did say later in a heated discussion about it) was, “Are you a fucking society trying to better mankind or fucking publisher in it for profit????” While societies do many great things I am starting to get real tired of them protecting the high salaries of their employees at the expense  of the rest of us, when, unlike a for-profit company, they are suppose to be helping us.”

I know it seems easy to vilify the SAA’s, but I want to strongly caution against it. Fred Limp at the SAA, to my current knowledge, is the only society representative to respond to this. That should actually give credit to the SAA because they are willing to participate in the discussion openly, whether you agree with them or not. This took guts, good for them.

Anyway, I am a strong advocate for open access and public access. I am also aware that there are aspects of this discussion I am not privy too, mainly because they are behind closed doors where I don’t have access. I also know that there are some valid reasons for not opening the flood gates and letting anyone and everyone have access to academic research. However, there is a middle ground, and it’s high time we find it. We didn’t need Aaron Swartz to prove that to us, but I hope something good will now come out of what he did.

Where the Vikings Weren’t – The Newport Tower.

In our first installment of this series we looked over the actual factual, evidence of both Christopher Columbus and Leif Eiriksson discovering the Americas. Arguably, you could say Columbus discovered South America, and Leif the North. I would say, simply touching a rock on one park of a massive continent complex doesn’t equal discovering both bits of America, but that’s my opinion on the matter.

Apparently some folks agree with me, because there have been several claims around North America of evidence of Vikings. We’re going to go over them, and see if there is any merit to these claims.

The Newport Tower

The Newport Tower.

Newport, Rhode Island is said to have a singular structure, surely evidence of Vikings. The Newport Tower, aka Old Stone Tower, aka Touro Tower, aka Old Stone Mill, aka…anyway you get the point. The Newport Tower stands at the west end of Touro Park. It is a round stone structure that was preserved in 1854 when Judah Touro donated $10,000.00 to the City of Newport to conserve it and the land around it (Barstad 2007, 2008). Until recently, little has been known about the tower, except some speculation that the Tower might have been built by Vikings, but is there evidence?

Certainly there is no other known Norse structures around, or Nordic artifacts, or anything else to suggest the Norse were ever in the area, but you do have to admit, the tower does look strange. It doesn’t look like other known 17th-century structures, which are often square or rectangular and built of wood. New England smock mills are described as tapered, with narrow tops and wide basis, and almost always built of wood (Barstad 2007, 2008). It has a very rustic look to it, made out of stone, it even has those weird arches at the base. Does it match up to any other known Nordic structures? Not as far as I can tell. Still there is enough going on here that it’s worth looking at the unusual structure.

William S. Godfrey Jr. conducted a dig around and under the tower and published his findings in American Antiquity in 1951. He appears to have been pretty thorough. He lifted the sidewalk surrounding the tower (placed there by the city, I believe. Don’t quote me.) looking for, and finding, the construction trench and taking his units down to the sterile layers of soil.  He describes the soil surrounding the structure thus:

“We cleared the area with great care, but found the yellow clay, as before, completely undisturbed; no sign of foundations, no postholes, no Norse artifacts (Godfrey 1951).”

Instead he did find pottery sherds, iron nails, clay tobacco pipes, buttons and buckles, all traceable to Scotland, England, or the English Colonies in America. All were dated to between the 17th and 19th centuries (Godfrey 1951,Feder 2006:117). He even found a preserved boot-print in the soil beneath the stone foundation (Godfrey 1951, Feder 2006:117).

Later in 2006 and 2007, The Chronognostic Research Foundation sponsored their own research on the Newport Tower (Barstad 2007, 2008). They used several different techniques that would not have been available to Godfrey, including ground penetrating radar (Barstad 2007, 2008). They identified quite a bit about the history of the park and they increased the amount of 17th, 18th, and 19th century artifacts found in association with the tower, backing up Godfrey’s findings (Barstad 2007, 2008).

I’m mildly hesitant to use Barstad’s work, mainly because of the conclusions she draws at the end of the 2008 report. Specifically  that the Tower is really an observatory and that it was built around 1125. Her Observatory conclusions are  biased on window orientation, making the case that two windows line up for the sunset on the winter solstice, but she seems to ignore a clearly visible, filled in, window. Not to mention the Chesterton Windmill, thought to be the actual model for the Newport tower, displays similar windows and is clearly a mill.

Also, I have no clue where she is getting her date of 1125 when the oldest artifact her team recovered was dated to the 17th century. She goes on to reference Nordic saga’s, but there is no evidence to support or suggest that she should. Also, the lime mortar bonding the stones together has been radiocarbon dated to 1665 (Feder 2006:117), so…

Chesterton Windmill in Warwickshire, England.

Other factors that work against the tower being as old as 1125, is that the area was settled in 1639, and no one ever mention the tower (Feder 2006:117). Also the Newport Historical Society explained:

“We’re 99.9 percent sure the tower was built as a windmill by Governor Benedict Arnold in the 17th century.” When asked about the remaining 0.1 percent of doubt, the member added, “Oh, well, the public does so love a good mystery, we like to leave a bit for them.” (Barstad Nd).

The first known mention of the Tower is in Gov. Benedict Arnold’s 1677 last-will-and-testament, where he uses it as a landmark for where he wanted to be buried (Barstad Nd, Feder 2006:118).  Arnold was brought up near Chesterton, England and the design of the mill was well-known there (Feder 2006:118). Most likely, he built a similar one when he got to the colonies (Feder 2006:118).

Apparently, the origin of the Norse idea began in 1830, when Carl Christian Rafn, the then Danish secretary of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquities in Copenhagen, suggested that the Tower was built in the 12th century by the Norse. He never saw the tower, so was making a guess based on the descriptions of others, specifically a drawing by F. Catherwood (Barstad Nd).  Rafn suggested that the tower was built under Eric Gnupsson, a bishop from Gardar, Greenland, sometime between 1112 and 1121.

Frederick Catherwood’s Drawing of the Newport Tower ca. 1836-39

The problem here is that Rafn never saw the Tower himself, and as gifted an artist Catherwood was, his picture is known to have inaccuracies, which could have influenced Rafn. For Barstad to use this as evidence of any kind is a little unsettling, especially when there is no other apparent reason to accept such an idea, and the actual evidence is so heavily weighed against it.

There are a bunch of other ideas as to how the Tower got here, all attached to the various contenders for the title of “Who Discovered America First”. Some suggest (Barstad mostly) that the Scott, Sir Henry Sinclair, built it while exploring the coast of North America between 1395 and 1398 as part of a planned community (Barstad Nd). There is a Chinese Theory by a retired British submarine commander named Gavin Menzies, who suggests a Chinese treasure fleet (always a treasure involved somewhere) rounded the Cape of Good Hope in the 1420’s built the tower as part of their colony (Barstad Nd). There is a Dr. Manuel Da Silva who suggests the CorteReal brothers shipwrecked in the early 1500’s and built the Tower so that rescuers could find them (Barstad Nd). She even put forward the idea that the Basque built it as a kind of whale spotting tower (Barstad Nd).

There are massive and immediate holes in all of these ideas. Hearsay cannot trump evidence, especially in archaeology. We can use a good story to help us formulate a hypothesis, but when the evidence, in the form of artifacts and now ground history, doesn’t support that hypothesis, we must decide on the side of the evidence. Clearly this was not done in this case, and it’s upsetting.

Still, the hard facts point to a 17th century birth for the Newport Tower, probably at the hands of Gov. Benedict Arnold, and very probably modeled after the now famous Chesterton Windmill.

But this isn’t the only supposed Viking evidence out there, oh no. There is also a very questionable map that we’ll look over next week.

Go to  Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway? or Where the Vikings Weren’t for more on this series.

Resources:

Barstad, Jan

Nd    “Who Built the Newport Tower?” Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. http://www.acmrs.org/about/online-resources/NewportTower. Retrieved Jan/14/2013.

2007    “The Newport Tower Project: An Archaeological Investigation in to the Tower’s Past.”  The Chronognostic Research Foundation. Sept 21, 2007. http://www.chronognostic.org/pdf/tower_project_report_2007.pdf. Retrieved Jan/14/2013.

2008 “Discovery Over Touro Park”. The Chronognostic Research Foundation. http://www.chronognostic.org/over_touro_park.html. Retrieved Jan/14/2013.

Feder, Kenneth L.

2006    Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, 5th ed, McGraw-Hill, New York. NY.

Godfrey, William S.  Jr.

1951    “The Archaeology of the Old Stone Mill in Newport, Rhode Island,” American Antiquity Vol. 17, No. 2 (Oct., 1951), pp. 120-129 Society for American Archaeology. http://www.jstor.org/stable/277246?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents Retrieved Jan/14/2013.

Homeless Snake Goddesses, Virgin Hairstyles, and Ancient Fire

Not going to lie, Stats class is going to seriously hurt me, and I’m not having a fun time trying to track down my own articles for the readings class. But that’s what you get when you try to be clever right? Because my school load is so demanding, I thought I’d cheer myself up with some nice freindly articles about cool stuff, you know, hair, snakes, and fire…what better?

I have a big soft spot for experimental archaeology, and I’m simply in love with this hair style. I may need to see if I can torture my hair into this style some time. I bet it was very cool in the summer, and once up, rather secure. Anyway, if you or someone you know did this to themselves, please send me pic!

 

 

You can watch the amazing video at LiveScience or  read more about the project on yahoo at Oldest Roman Hairstyle Recreated for First Time.

 

Athenian ‘Snake Goddess’ Gets New Identity

I like this one too, just because I like how they used light imaging to get a better look at what the painting looked like. I love the detail that can be recovered this way. Also, if this does turn out to be a depiction of Demeter, she’ll be the oldest know image of the earth goddess.

 

Mesolithic people using fire to encourage plant growth is pretty dang cool, and clever. Not quite agriculture, but pretty damn close. These Middle Stone Age genius might have been using controlled burns to encouraging the growth of their favorite foods, like hazelnuts, crab apples, and raspberries.

 

 

Amelia Edwards – The Godmother of Egyptology

I’ve been working on this series for a little more than a year now. Crafting and changing it. I finally decided on a format about six months ago, and figured, one more relaunch was worth a try. I’ve always been suspicious when I read a book on the history of Archaeology or attend a lecture that starts with the “Fathers of Archaeology”  and never mentions women, at all, ever. I know Archaeology isn’t the only scientific field to suffer from this “man-washing” of its history. I don’t really think it’s a malicious thing, I think women have just been marginalized for so long, even other women in the different fields accept that women had no hand in forming or growing science.

The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Women, being about half of the population, have  always contributed to science. Some of them did paperwork, some became scholars and lecturers, some risked their lives in the pursuit of their fields. No contribution was too small.

That said, we’ve already covered Mary Anning the famous fossil hunter who provided specimens to the most renowned experts of her time and was considered an authority as well. We’ve also covered Elizabeth Philpot another early fossil expert  and dear friend of Anning, who was renowned and respected among her male peers.

Now I want to introduce you to a woman who very likely was the handmaiden of modern archaeology.

Amelia Edwards got a late start in her career as an advocate and promoter of Egyptology, at least by Victorian standards. Born to a retired army officer and a Irish mother, Amelia was taught from the start to be independent, curious, and fearless. Her mother home schooled her and refused to teach her anything about homemaking. Her mother, Alicia Edwards, apparently didn’t want to domesticate her daughter and instilled a fiercely independent streak in Amelia (Adams 2010:19).

Edwards for her part, showed an early talent for art, focusing on pencils and watercolors, and music, making a name for herself playing the Organ.  She also showed an early interest for adventure, as she would spend her summer abroad with her mother in the Irish hills and fields climbing over and investigating the ruins of the past (Adams 2010:19). She made an early living for herself as a moderately successful romance writer. She had a comfortable savings when the next phase of her life unfolded before her (Adams 2010:19).

At the age of 30, her parents died within weeks of each other, leaving Edwards completely unattached. She’d only entertained marriage once, being engaged to a nice gentlemen she felt no particular affection for. So she called off the engagement and never pursued another. She seemed happy with her lot of being a spinster, and embraced the freedoms of an unattached woman with enthusiasm (Adams 2010:21).

She decided to travel the world after her parents deaths. A decision that would land her in Egypt almost by accident and the ship she was on was seeking shelter from the bad weather. She and her traveling companion, Lucy Renshaw rented what is basically a house boat called a dahabeeyah, the Philae. She reportedly kept it up very nicely with all the luxuries a proper Victorian lady could afford (Adams 2010:23). It was while out on this Egyptian adventure that Edwards flay bloomed into her her life calling. She fell in love with Egypt, and in particularly, Egyptology. She was hungry to make her own discovery, and got her wish.

Abu Simbel drawn by Amelia Edwards 1870

Moored for two weeks at Abu Simbel,  she discovered a small square chamber (Lesko). In her excitement of the initial discovery she reportedly fell to her knees beside the small opening and began digging with her bare hands while still in her skirts. Later, hired another 50 local men from the local village to help “excavate”. Soon they were inside the small square room and she and her crew began recording the vividly painting on the walls, and they even found a human skull. Hopes were high that the room would reveal a burial chamber, but instead it seems she found a library or small chapel (Lesko) of sorts with beautifully painted walls (Adams 2010:32).

Edwards wrote about her time in Egypt in her wildly successful novel, A Thousand Miles up the Nile – A woman’s journey among the treasures of Ancient Egypt.

“A Thousand Miles up the Nile” 1891

Edwards did more than just chronicle her adventures here, she also made a plea to her readers for preservation and careful treatment of the sites in Egypt. She complained about how the delicate painting on the walls of many tombs were smudged and damaged by careless travelers and researchers (Adams 2010:32).

She also commented on the Peoples of Egypt. She expressed sympathy for the impoverished fellahin and revealed that she had considerably more understanding of the plights of the local Peoples than would be expected from someone of her background and time (Lesko).

Egypt Exploration Fund seal

Edwards eventually returned home to England, but she was much changed. She self-educated herself in hieroglyphics (Adams 2010:34), becoming a well-respected expert in the language being sent samples from all over for verification. She took great care in obtaining facts, made serious efforts in her research and self-education which set her apart from the other writers whose approach was much less informed and more sensational (Adams 2010: 36, Lesko). She also created the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1882 with Reginald Stuart Poole and Sir Erasmus Wilson (Adams 2010:36, Wiki). Edwards and Poole were the honorary secretaries (Wiki).

Edwards took an early interest in one William Matthew Flinders Petrie, funding much of his work in Egypt. She often transcribed his notes for him on top of monitoring all of the publications and fundraising for the her Fund, and dealing with the early diva’s of the archaeological world (Adams 2010:35). Flinders Petrie would go on to be known as the father of modern archaeology, due to no little part to Edwards, no doubt.

Sir Flinders Petrie

Edwards spent a great deal of time dealing with the mail, publications, and promotion of the Fund, to the point of depleting her own funds, and ruining her health. Though she was easily as educated as the men she was helping craft the careers of, she received little respect. So, she hatched a new plan for the final phase of her life. Along with her new traveling companion, one Kate Bradbury, she launched herself into a wildly Ambitious speaking tour of America in 1889 (Adams 2010:37). She was well received. She was invited to speak at over 200 organizations including learned societies and major universities on the East Coast, the Midwest, as well as influential groups such as the New England Women’s Press Association. Edwards expertise as well as her speaking ability, humor and gracious personality made her a favorite among her American counterparts. During her tour she was awarded three honorary degrees from Columbia University, Smith College, and the College of the Sisters of Bethany in Topeka, Kansas (Adams 2010:38, Lesko). The content of these lectures was later published under the title Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers.

Kate Bradbury Griffith

In April of 1892 Edwards succumb to complications due to exhaustion and a suppressed immunity due to her battle with breast cancer.

On her death, Edwards stipulated that her library of over 3000 books, her private collection, engravings and sketches along with 5,000 pounds go to support the Edwards Chair of Egyptology at the University Collage of London and made clear that the one appointed to the prestigious position would be William Matthew Flinders Petrie (Adams 2010:38).

An early Suffragette (Lesko, Wiki) Edwards made sure that her contribution would go to a college that Edwards had a long record of extremely liberal opinions and beliefs. She certainly was in favor of rights for women and left her money only to a school which accepted women students.

Her will stipulated not only that the professorship must go to someone under the age of 40 but that no one at the British Museum must be considered for it. In this way she assured that her candidate Petrie would be the first Edwards Professor of Egyptology. He, of course, went on to become the greatest name in the history of archaeology, a credit to his patron’s foresight and support (Lesko).

Amelia Edwards was a vibrant woman with a great love of Egypt and archaeology. She was a gifted writer and speaker, using her skills make her passions accessible to the public. You can see her as an early crusader for the preservation of archaeological treasures and surly she pushed for the refinement of archaeological methods. She was such a colorful character that she inspired the main character in  Elizabeth Peters archaeologically themed Amelia Peabody mystery series (which I highly recommend reading).

For more in this series check out Mother’s of the Field.

Resources:

Adams, Amanda
2010    “Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure” Greystone Books. October 1, 2010

Lesko, Barbara S.
Nd   “Amelia Blanford Edwards, 1831-1892” http://www.brown.edu/Research/Breaking_Ground/bios/Edwards_Amelia%20Blanford.pdf Retrieved. 1/8/13

Wikiepdia
“Amelia Edwards.” Wikiepdia. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Edwards. Retrieved 1/8/13

Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway? Mayhaps the Vikings?

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He set out on a bold new mission to reach out to new civilizations and boldly go where no one had gone before. Or was that Star Trek? Either way, when many of us were in grade school, we were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Some of us, if we were lucky, were taught that he thought he had discovered Asia since he had been looking for a new trade route there to trade for spices. None of us ever got the truth.

No Flag, No Country. It’s a rule I just made up.

Columbus made his first landfall in Caribbean islands on what he called San Salvador, somewhere in Cuba. He immediately encountered native people, and though he now knew he wasn’t in either Cathay or Chpangu (China or Japan) he had no flipping clue where he really was. He figured he was still somewhere in Asia, but he couldn’t figure out where. Columbus made three more voyages to the shores of what would be called The New World, making landfall in 1493, 1498, and 1502. He even attempted to establish a temporary colony there in 1492 after the Santa Maria was wrecked off the coast of  Haiti. 39 men were left behind in an encampment built out of the remains of the ship, however when Columbus returned  in late 1493 he found all the men dead and the settlement burned to the ground (Feder 2006).  He managed a much more successful colony in what is now the Dominican Republic called La Isabela.

How do we know all this as fact and not just more fables told to children in grade school history class? We have evidence. Among the artifacts we have, trade goods, glazed ceramics, nails, glassware, horse gear, metal bits, and dated coins (Feder 2006). All distinctly Spanish in origins. We also have verifiable documentation of Columbus’ travels, court records, maps, journals, and other such documents (Feder 2006). We have lots of evidence that all corroborates. And that’s how we know.

“But Wait!” You say, “There is evidence of other groups reaching America before Columbus did! What about them?”

Yes, what about them?

There is no dispute that Columbus reached the America’s in 1492, we can back that up. However, there are numerous claims that the America’s were discovered long before Columbus was a twinkle in his mother’s eye. How do these claims hold up? Does the evidence support them? Was someone here before? In this series were going to look over the many and varied claims to the New World, spanning from the Vikings to, yes, Aliens.

So let’s start with the most likely culprits, The awesome Vikings!

Leif Eiriksson discovers America, by Christian Krohg (1893).

The Norse were/are a pretty cool culture, and in my opinion, the coolest. They were culturally sophisticated, socially liberal, and artistically creative. They were kings of the sea, scourges of the land, and the stuff of legends even to today. They left a rich written history behind them in the form of numerous sagas and eddas. Two of those saga’s, The Greenlander’s Saga and Eirik the Red’s Saga, tell of the discovery of Vinland, a land further west then even Greenland and covered with grapes.

Leif, the son of Eirik the Red, is the one said to have landed on, and briefly investigated, three new lands past Greenland. He called them Helluland, Markland, and Vinland. He came home to Greenland and told of the vast riches of the new land, Vinalnd. His brother, Throvald, set off to explore Vinland more fully, met up with the natives, called Skraelings, and promptly got himself killed.

Around 1022 A.D., Throfinn Karlsefni led a sizable group, consisting of families and animals, from Greenland to Vinland to create a permanent settlement  They built homes and farmed the land. Again though, the Skraelings attacked unmercifully and apparently drove the Norse Folk out.

What we have here is a riveting tale of discovery and exploration, but as wondrous at this all seems, it’s not evidence  Not to mention, we don’t even know where Helluland, Markland, and Vinland are on a map.  What we need is physical evidence, and fortunately that’s what we have.

Lots of little things have been found along the Northeastern portions of North America. A Norse coin that dates between 1880 and 1235 AD, smelted metal, chain-mail, ship rivets  and other non-native goods have been found isolated and within native sties (Feder 2006). These artifacts show contact between the native Americans and the Norse, either through trade, or more nefarious means.

But the big payoff came in the 1960’s in a little place called L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada.

A Norse long house recreation at L’Anse aux Meadows

I’ve gone over the tenacious Anne Stine Moe Ingstad and her husband Helge Ingstad previously and their discovery of L’Anse aux Meadow.  Here they discovered what appeared to eight typically Norse, turf houses (ArchyFantasies 2012). They worked on the site between 1961 and 1968 and recovered enough information to definitively identify it as a Norse colonial settlement (ArchyFantasies 2012, Feder 2006). The excavation revealed the remains of an early 11th century Norse settlement, including sod houses called “booths”, a forge, cooking pits and boathouses (ArchyFantasies 2012).  They also recovered worked iron, bronze pins, a soapstone spindal, and other Norse artifacts (Feder 2006). They also recovered traditional foodstuffs, like butternut shells, a kind of walnut that does not grown in Newfoundland but in Nova Scotia. Carbon dates for the site date it to 920 AD, plus or minus 30 years (Feder 2006).

Patricia Sutherland

Also, Patricia Sutherland, adjunct professor of archaeology at Memorial University in Newfoundland and a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, has found evidence of a Viking camp on Baffin Island (Feder 2006, Pringle 2012). Things such as spun yarn, whetstones, metals, a whalebone shovel, and even the pellets of Old World rat stowaways from the ships (Pringle 2012). Sutherland’s dates are still being assessed, but the artifacts can be traced to as early as the 11th century (Feder 2006).

Norse Cord

So we’ve got two settlements loaded with evidence  and lots of isolated objects popping up in Native American sites that date to the same times. Honestly, that’s a pretty open and shut case. Score one for the the awesomeness of the Vikings!

But the fun doesn’t stop there. We know of at least two locations where the Norse where, but there are many more claims out there claiming “Vikings stopped here, too!” Things like the Vinland Map to the numerous rune-stones found all over the United States. These claims just don’t hold up as well under examination when looked at closely, and what kind of blog would this be if we didn’t look at them? In our next installation we’ll examine the not-so-factual evidence of Vikings in America.


 

Go to  Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway? or Where the Vikings Weren’t for more on this series.

If you’d like to support this blog, consider donating on Patreon.
Comment below or send an email to ArchyFantasies@gmail.com


Resources:  

ArchyFantasies

2012 “Women in Archaeology – Anne Stine Moe Ingstad” ArchyFantasies.  http://archyfantasies.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/anne-stine-moe-ingstad/. Retrieved Jan 3, 2013.

Feder, Kenneth L.

2006  Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology, 5th ed, McGraw-Hill, New York. NY.

Posner, Michael

2012 “New doc aims to unravel an Arctic mystery” The Globe and Mail. Nov. 21 2012 http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/10/121019-viking-outpost-second-new-canada-science-sutherland/. Retrieved Jan 3, 2013.

Pringle, Heather

2012 “Evidence of Viking Outpost Found in Canada” National Geographic The Daily News. October 19, 2012. http://m.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/new-doc-aims-to-unravel-an-arctic-mystery/article5540781/?service=mobile. Retrieved Jan 3, 2013.

Big Brained Guppies, Gentle Vikings, and GIS: Weekly Round-Up 1/6/2013

This week has been slightly relaxing. No school this week, and I’m back from vacation, we got reliable internet back at my house, and I was able to catch up on sleep. That being said I still managed to stumble on some gems to read.

Found this website, by ERSI. They are the people who bring us ArcGIS in all it’s wacky glory. I’m kinda liking this, since its an academic style online magazine that is  open to the public. I’m hoping they make a Volume 2. http://www.esri.com/library/journals/archaeology/index.html

I found this while looking for other articles on Vikings, the reason for that search will be obvious soon. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0217_040217_vikings_2.html, its all about reforming the bad rep Vikings got, mainly from exaggerated or  made up tales of raiding churches  along the coast. This might be fodder for another series one day, for now it’s just good reading.

The last thing I really got fired up over was a study on the “Expensive Tissue Hypothesis” which basically says the larger our brains the more it cost us to run them, or Big brains = lots of calories. These guys tested this with guppies, and selectively breed them for larger brains. They noted that the larger brained females out performed the smaller brained ones in cognitive tests and the guts of the larger brained guppies shrank. Also, they appeared to have fewer offspring at a time. This is pretty exciting for a lot of reasons dealing with the evolution of human brains.  http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(12)01438-8

So, that’s what I’ve been up to this week. Feel free to share what you’ve read.

Obligatory Happy Post-Apocalyptic Greetings!

I’m pleased to see so many of us survived the Mayan Doom Day known far and wide as the day the Mayan Calender ended, and then nothing of note happened. I hope despite that disappointing climax we all managed to have a happy holiday and new year. I saw the New Year in with an excellent Roller Derby match, but our team rocks so it wasn’t hard to have great match.

Traditionally, the new year is a time to have your fortune read so you know what to expect in the upcoming year, and since we here at Archyfantasies are big fans of astrology and ancient fortune telling methods, lets see what the stars say is in-store for us this year.

2013 is the year of the Snake in China, specifically the Water Snake. According to BILL HAJDU over at Astrology.com:

“Snake is the Yin to last year’s Dragon Yang. That said, Snake does not settle for mediocrity, either. We’re likely to see significant developments in the area of science and technology this year. Research and development are apt to flourish. his is a Water year as well, the element most closely associated with education and research, making 2013 a very special year for scientists and scholars.”

Lucky me, this year I’m working on research in several different related areas. Good to know the universe is with me in this. Should make things easier.

But wait! Wizzley.com has a different story:

“The Mayans got it wrong. It wasn’t 2012 that was going to be a year of disaster but the year of the water snake. Snake years aren’t the best in the calendar for most; and it’s definitely the year lucky charms are going to be a must. Some zodiac animals will navigate the water snake year more smoothly than others. For most it’s going to be a very slow moving year with unexpected obstacles surfacing at the most inopportune moments.”

Oh those silly Mayans, they can’t get anything right. Apparently neither can the Chinese. Or maybe it’s just the people trying to predict the future biased on fables, who knows. Either way, we’re going to accept the first set of predictions, they’re much more friendly, and look at what Archyfantasies has coming up for real.

Look to the year to be filled with a variety of different posts. On top of my random Tales of Grad-School, we’re going to enjoy a more regular posting scheduled filled with more fun debunking of pseudo-archaeology. Next week we’ll have the first in our new series “Columbus was Second-ish: Who Discovered America Anyway?“. In it we’ll be going over the various claims from different cultures about who really got to this rock first. Was it the Vikings? The Chinese? The Polynesians? Aliens? (I’m pulling for the Vikings!) The real winner might surprise you.

We’re also going to flesh out the Women in Archaeology category, focusing the first part of the year on Mothers of the Field. I had a lot of great responses to the Mary Anning post I did last year, and I really want to build on that. Sometimes it’s hard to find information about the early mothers, but even if it’s just a paragraph, it’s worth the effort to illuminate the sometimes hidden contributions of women in the field of archaeology.

New-ish this year is the Weekly Round Ups. I read a lot during the week, and some of it is pretty interesting, so I thought I’d share. I really started this in December, but there’s not reason not to continue it. You can also send me your favorite articles, I like sharing!

The really new stuff is going to happen over at the ArchyFantasies YouTube Channel. I’ve been unhappy with the format of the channel for a long time now, so I’ve sat down a re-thought about it and I’ve come up with some great ideas. We’re going to keep our usual videos that cover our Weird Archaeology and current series, and I’m adding videos about the Women in Archaeology series.

One of the new shows we’re planning is Experiments in Archaeology. Fun little experiments that break down archaeological concepts into understandable pieces for people. I may even have a few special guests over the year. I’m pretty excited about this, on top of being fun I think they will be very informational.

Lastly, We’re rolling out a Q&A video twice a month. If you’ve got a question about pseudoarchaeology or pseudoscience, send it to me at archyfantaises@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer them. You might even spark a new Weird Archaeology video/post.

So with that, I hope the year of the Water Snake is more like Bill’s prediction for you, and if not, maybe you just need to get your chakras balanced…or something like that.

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