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Beyond Stone & Bone

The Top Five Archaeological Bloggers
by Heather Pringle
June 28, 2010

First a confession.  As an avid reader of all things archaeological, I love it when archaeologists lay down the trowel, clamber out of the trench, and venture into the public arena to talk sans jargon about what they are doing,  why they are doing it, and what kinds of trouble and/or joy they had along the way.  For years,  most researchers saved this kind of fascinating chitchat for the slide shows they gave to local archaeological associations. Very little made it into print.

That was before the blogosphere,  however.  It now turns out that many younger archaeologists are no more able to resist the siren call of the “publish” button on WordPress and other blogging software than the rest of us are.  And I think we are all the luckier and wiser for it.  I spend at least a part of every day roaming my favorite archaeological blogs, catching up with archaeologists from Newfoundland to Jordan.

So today,  I’d like to tip my hat to the five of the best archaeological bloggers around.  Check them out and see if you don’t agree.

1.  Middle Savagery.  Taking time out from her teaching and from working on a Ph.D. in archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley,  Colleen Morgan blogs on everything from building a virtual Çatalhöyük on Second  Life to the archaeology of the Burning Man festival in Nevada.  I particularly loved her recent post,  Haram at the Beach,  which described the behavior of modestly dressed Muslim women on a Red Sea shore.

2.  Elfshot:  Sticks and Stones.  Here’s how Newfoundland archaeologist Tim Rast describes his eclectic blog.  ”It’s a global recession, your only skill has been obsolete for 10,000 years and you have a mortgage to pay.  Making a living as a 21st century flintknapper.” Rast is a diehard experimental archaeologist and the series he did on carving up a hooded seal in his backyard and processing all the byproducts to make adzes,  harpoons, and other gear is a classic. At one point, Rast risked inciting the wrath of his neighbors by festooning his clothesline with seal gut.  Not for the faint of heart perhaps, but not to be missed either.

3.  Northwest Coast Archaeology.   This superb blog by Quentin Mackie,  an archaeologist at the University of Victoria in Canada, has  just picked up a major award from the Canadian Archaeological Association.  And the prize was richly deserved.  Quentin has a wonderfully droll sense of humor,  a kind of Mark Twainishness that brings just about everything he writes to life.  His beat is, as the title suggests,  North America’s Northwest Coast,  but this blog isn’t just for the specialist. Quentin happens to be in the field right now,  but promises to return to the blog in late June.

4.  Whitewater  PoW Camp Archaeology Project.   I’d  love to see more archaeologists blogging about what they are up to in the field.  Stanford University Ph.D. student Adrian Myers and his team shows us how it can be done,  writing every few days on various aspects of their work on a World War II prisoner of  war camp in Manitoba,  Canada.   I particularly loved it when Adrian recruited his father Paul Myers to post on his experiences as a volunteer on the project.  Meyers Sr. obviously  had a lot of fun in the field.

5.  Bad Archaeology.  What passes as archaeology in the popular press often needs some serious debunking.  And that’s where blogger Keith Fitzpatrick Matthews,  the archaeology officer for the North Hertfordshire District Council,  and his colleagues step in.  Was Noah’s Ark really found recently on Mount Ararat?  Or did the Knights Templar leave a nail from the crucifixion in Madeira? Bad Archaeology gets the last word in.

Do you have favorites of your own?  By all means drop us a line here at Beyond Stone and Bone, and share their URL’s with us.

Comments posted here do not represent the views or policies of the Archaeological Institute of America.

13 comments for "The Top Five Archaeological Bloggers"

  • Reply posted by MarionRavenwood (June 29, 2010, 4:31 am):

    Hello Heather: you cannot miss Digging the Dirt! It’s also on facebook, updated daily – http://www.diggingthedirt.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/diggingthedirt/111694768867856

         

  • Reply posted by Eric (June 29, 2010, 5:09 am):

    Great list Heather! I’m a big fan of Middle Savagery too. Another one I check pretty religiously is John Hawks’s paleoanthropology blog: http://johnhawks.net/weblog/
    If you’re interested in southwestern archaeology and Chaco Canyon in particular, Gambler’s House is an excellent read: http://gamblershouse.wordpress.com/

         

  • Reply posted by Heather Pringle (June 29, 2010, 7:42 am):

    Marion and Eric:

    These are terrific suggestions. I knew about John Hawk’s blog, which I admire greatly, but hadn’t come across the others. I’ve now bookmarked them!

         

  • Reply posted by ArchAsa (June 29, 2010, 8:24 am):

    Good list. Just have to recommend a few others of my favorites:

    Aardvarchaeology over at ScienceBlogs: http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/

    Mary Beard’s fantastic blog about classical archaeology and the life of an Oxford Don: http://timesonline.typepad.com/dons_life/

    And you of course, I like your blog :)

         

  • Reply posted by Gwen (June 29, 2010, 9:31 am):

    Thanks for a great list! I just wanted to add that it is definitely true that not all blogs are created equal, and recently I came across an archaeology blog that wasn’t really blogging. The “author” was copying and pasting (ie. plagiarizing) news articles and images from many different sources, including Archaeology Magazine, and posting them as blog posts.

    If he paraphrased, synthesized, commented or editorialized, that would be an entirely different matter, but he seems to literally copy and paste the content from other people’s pages to his own.

    I hesitate to even put the link here, in case it somehow gives this blogger more attention and profit than he’s already getting. But I think it’s worth it just to point the finger, and hopefully get him taken down. He has plagiarized so many sources it’s difficult to keep track.

    The blog is http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com, and I am only posting that link in the hopes that people will see what he’s doing, protest against it, and the people who own the material he’s plagiarizing will pursue lawsuits against him, and submit complaints to Google to have the blog removed.

    If you see this blog or any other Blogger/Blogspot blog plagiarizing your content you can go here to report it: http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=blogger_dmca_infringment

    I’m glad there are some great archaeology bloggers out there. But beware of the bad ones.

         

  • Reply posted by Tim (June 30, 2010, 8:38 am):

    Wow, thanks Heather – its an honour to make your top five!

    Anne Jensen is an archaeologist living and working in Barrow, Alaska and I’m hooked on her new blog: Out of Ice and Time. Many of her posts are targetted at a general audience and you certainly don’t have to be an archaeologist to get a lot out of her writing, but she puts so much of her own ups and downs into her posts that I think her blog will really strike a chord with professional archaeologists.

    http://iceandtime.wordpress.com/

         

  • Reply posted by Heather Pringle (June 30, 2010, 8:48 am):

    Thanks, ArchAsa and Tim for these additions to the list. It clearly should have been longer. Perhaps I can make this an annual list!

         

  • Reply posted by Blogging Archaeology – Update! « Middle Savagery (July 1, 2010, 2:03 am):

    [...] http://archive.archaeology.org/blog/?p=965 [...]

         

  • Reply posted by Rob Sternberg (July 5, 2010, 1:22 pm):

    I just want to mention my own blog done on behalf of the Society for Archaeology Sciences: http://socarchsci.blogspot.com/. I’ll leave it to others to judge its awesomeness quotient.

         

  • Reply posted by Four Stone Hearth # 96 the Oscar Montelius edition « Testimony of the spade (July 7, 2010, 2:44 am):

    [...] By the way Heather Pringle at Beyond Stone & Bone Archive, Archaeology magazine’s weekly blog, have issued  a  Top Five Archaeological Bloggers – check it out! [...]

         

  • Reply posted by Jennifer (July 26, 2010, 11:17 am):

    Archaeopop is a great blog that looks at “what happens when the past meets popular culture.” It’s really fun and hard to explain – just look at it.

    It’s written by 2 or 3 people and there are posts on archaeological finds, music videos, academic theory, guerilla archaeology, the antiquities trade, and general thoughts on the past/present intersection in pop culture.

    http://archaeopop.blogspot.com/

         

  • Reply posted by balage (February 26, 2011, 11:49 am):

    This was just the kind of list I was looking for. I’d like to offer my own blog at
    http://archaeologyillustrated.com/blog/1
    where I discuss the issues that surround illustrating archaeological reconstructions primarily but not limited to the Ancient Near East (i.e. Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant, Turkey and Greece). My entire corpus to date can be viewed at the website. I invite comments, criticisms and stimulating discussion and I look forward to exploring some of the links posted above. Thank you.

         

  • Reply posted by “Blogging Archaeology” and SAA Conference » MSU Campus Archaeology Program (March 2, 2011, 9:33 am):

    [...] graduate student at Berkeley, and the author of the blog “Middle Savagery“, one of the premier archaeology blogs. I will be presenting a paper about the archaeology blogging project we did this past summer during [...]

         


About Our Blogger:

Heather Pringle is a freelance science journalist who has been writing about archaeology for more than 20 years. She is the author of Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust and The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead. For more about Heather, see our interview or visit www.lastwordonnothing.com.

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