Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The date is set

And it is the 24th of May 2010. I know, that's next year. But let's not dwell upon that. I should hand in the first finished chapters after Epiphany. Now I'm trying to decide which ones would be even remotely possible - they are all in various stages of "unfinished", so preferably I should choose two which require the least amount of work to metamorphose into "finished".

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scientia victrix

I know I've been ranting about this subject before, but the recent news regarding universities, both in media and in the internal communications of my precious alma mater, give no reason to optimism.

The raising of private funds required by the new university legislation lags behind the timetable, the government is effectively cutting the income of University of Helsinki by millions of euros by revoking University Pharmacy's exemption from taxes and the financial situation at the departments is so dire that for example the Department of Classics has cancel to all the tuition given by other than permanent personnel for the spring semester.

In this situation it is tragicomic (although I confess finding it hard to see the comic side) that at the same time there is official worry about the state of research* and the duration of studies. As usual, the goverment is about to handle the last problem by applying the stick to the undergraduates, rather than trying the carrot.

Equal opportunities and investment in higher education rapidly changed Finland from an agrarian developing country into a rich, northern welfare state after the second world war. Some argue that the welfare state is already gone, and it seems to me that the importance of education and research for the nation is only a dead phrase, that nobody remembers the true meaning of.

*The Academy of Finland has in a recent survey found out that the standard of research done in Finland has dropped. As one of the major reasons for this the Academy pinpointed the lack of funding for basic research.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Progress report II

I have started a number of posts on topical issues but not found the time to finish them in time, i.e. whatever I've been intending to comment on is long past before I'd manage to finish the post.

Nothing new. It seems the more work I do with the dissertation, the more there is still to be done. Lately I've been so stressed out that I don't sleep at night because of thinking of various things I should get done, including the big D of course. A somewhat useless state of affairs, since as a result I am too tired to do any thinking during the day.

Monday, November 9, 2009


or "The first Finns were Mongols, after all?"

Amazing things can surface when one is innocently googling for pictures to illustrate lectures. I came across this Neolithic comb-pattern pottery jar held in the National Museum of Korea:

Note the similarity with our own comb-ceramic pottery:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Progress report

Almost four weeks into my four-month research grant and I have finally tied most (but not all) of the loose ends of the miscellaneous archaeology work I've done for living over the last year. I have also printed out the first version (more than hundred pages) of my dissertation to evaluate what needs to be done (a lot). And over the last week or so I have actually managed to immerse myself into the subject again. What is more, I feel I begin to have a grasp of the entirety of it. I hope I can continue in this positive vein.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Critical mass

We are back in Amman. The work in the field was intensive but all went well. We even managed to squeeze in some time for seeing sights and visiting friends.

While staying here in the ACOR I have become aware of what an advantage it is for scholars to have an institute like this, especially when run by such friendly and helpful people as the ACOR currently is. The environment itself is stimulating for scholarly work. You casually meet other people in the same field over the lunch and are able to share information. There is a well-equipped library for research. Above all, there is a continuity of research and scholarly community. If you happen to need some information from someone not here, there are probably people who know them and can put you in contact with them.

At the same time I am also painfully reminded of the futility of trying to work on Near Eastern archaeology in Finland. There is no tradition, and no guarantee of continuity beyond the on-going project. It makes me a little depressed.

In fact the problem is related to a larger problem concerning archaeology in Finland as a whole. We lack the critical mass that would give rise to a more dynamic research community. There are altogether around a dozen archaeologists employed as teaching staff on permanent basis in the three universities in Finland offering tuition in archaeology. To have time for research they also have to secure research funding and drop teaching. Only so few can get a temporary fellowship from the Academy of Finland. The rest are left to apply from various foundations, but the sources of funding for post-doctoral research are fewer than stipends for post-graduates, and it generally helps in getting funding if you have an established position with a university. This means that although there are currently perhaps more PhD students in archaeology in Finland than ever, they - that is, we - will find it hard to continue research after we get our degrees.

I wish there were more positions for archaeologists in the universities, but I fear it is unrealistic to hope for that in the foreseeable future. That is why we need the international contacts, both near and far, to bring in fresh winds as well as to have a wider audience for our own research. That is the only way to a better Finnish archaeology. Good science is not made in lonely cells, it is made in interaction with other researchers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Jordan

The title says it all, really. We are doing a couple of weeks trip to Petra for additional documentation and photos in publication purposes. Ramadan ended just a couple of days ago and the eid festivities are still in full go. I am writing this in one of the ACOR guest rooms, listening to the habibi music carried in through the open window by the night wind (by the sound of it there might be a pop concert somewhere nearby). The day after tomorrow we will head for Petra.

I have had a lot in my mind recently, trying to tie loose ends so that I can start my dissertation grant in October without having them hanging around. Need I say I did not manage to tie them all? There are still a couple of research reports needing the final touch, and one abstract has to be written. Still, I did a pretty good job of it. I'm hoping this short field season in the landscapes of Petra provides the much-needed kick start for finishing the dissertation work for good.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Childhood summers

I apologize once again the long silence in my blog. I have been away from Internet for a large part of the summer. It was great having summer holidays for the first time since 2001. Besides the previously mentioned trip to Ireland, we spent a lot of time in our summer cottage. Time somehow seems to extend there. It reminds me of childhood summers, and the way they felt endless.

They don't make summers like that anymore. The passage of time seems to accelerate when you grow up. Weeks are flitting by almost too fast to notice. Month, which was an eternity when I was a child, is hardly no time at all. Even years feel shorter (I recently had my birthday, again! I definitely don't feel that old.). I am often aghast at how many years have passed from something that for me seems to have happened quite recently.

We split time down into regular, measurable units; days and hours, minutes, seconds even, but our personal, experienced time does not always move at the same speed. A week abroad feels like a longer time. Then when you return home and everyday life takes over, it quickly fades into something that happened long ago. If, however, you keep returning to the same place, like archaeologists doing fieldwork, you may get a funny feeling that hardly any time has passed since your last visit, although it may in reality be a year or two.

I think it is the way our brain works that makes the difference in the way how our personal time behaves. The human brain is an amazing thing. Even when we are just idly walking along a street, the brain keeps taking everything in, filing and classifying, making connections. For most of the time, we are not even aware of this happening. The brain filters much of the incoming perceptions as background noise that our conscious minds need not be informed about. When we go to unfamiliar circumstances, the brain keeps making remarks to our consciousness more often. This has no doubt been a survival trait for our ancestors.

For a small child every day is still full of new experiences. For most of us adults our daily lives run pretty much the same script over and over again - get up in the morning, go to work, try to get things done, pick the child from daycare, go home, cook dinner, go to sleep. We do this negotiating through our everyday lives in a sort of autopilot. When we travel and go sightseeing we are pre-disposed to pay attention to our surroundings. However, in our normal lives we have little use for the knowledge gathered abroad, so it gets filed away. If we, however, return to the same place later on, the brain picks up from where we left the last time, bringing forth the memories surprisingly fresh.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Experiencing the National Museum (Dublin)

While in Ireland, we also went to see the archaeological exhibition in the National Museum in Dublin. It is a very different experience to go through a museum with a three-year old. I had dreaded it beforehand, imagining a mad rush through the halls, but it turned out to be fun. It was like seeing the same old flint pieces and brooches from a new perspective - even literally. Something I had never realized before, the cases are too high for a small child to properly see inside. No wonder kids tend to get bored. So I carried Son piggyback around the exhibition and he showed a surprisingly long attention span when I explained him what the items were and what they were used for.

The first thing Son wanted to see in the museum were the mummies in the small Egyptian exhibition. When he saw the first one I could feel him trembling, whether with fright or excitement I could not tell. The other very interesting exhibits were the model of a passage grave - although to his disappointment there was no entry to this one - the replica of a Viking boat, and a real Viking Age skeleton. We also saw the bog bodies, which I found rather gruesome, but Son just looked at them in silent contemplation. Leaving out the gory details of human sacrifice I explained to him that these people were buried in bogs. Our son considered asked me several times why, and when no acceptable explanation was forthcoming, he answered himself: "Maybe they did not have sand."

Afterwards we have had many a hard discussion about what happens after people die. Son has expressed his wish to become a skeleton and requested that after death he will be mummified. He was very offended when I tried to explain that we don't practise mummification and insisted on it. He also made a little sarcophagus out of modelling clay spread on top of a small bottle. I had to make him a skeleton, and he very carefully pressed the eye sockets and mouth to the skull.

It is nice to have a shared interest, but I hope he will grow out of it and make a career in plumbing or something sensible like that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Visiting Newgrange

This story actually began many years ago when Mares and I fatefully met in Leicester where both of us had enlisted to do MA in Landscape Studies. I still regard her friendship the most important outcome of that year. However, for various reasons I had never before visited her in her native Ireland. So her wedding provided me with the perfect excuse to travel to Ireland for the first time, and my family gladly tagged along. We had a superb trip. The Irish are extremely hospitable and generous people and we just loved every moment of it.

On the day after the wedding we visited Newgrange with the happy newlyweds. Newgrange, as you may or may not know, is a Neolithic passage grave mound near the Boyne valley, Co. Meath. Besides burial, the site is also associated with calendaric functions, specifically the observation of winter solstice. It is also a part of a wider ritual landscape, which includes the areas of Knowth and Dowth. Together, all these monuments are called Brú na Bóinne in Irish, and they have been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

The entrance to Newgrange is through the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre. As it usually happens, we had to spend some time in the visitor centre waiting for our tour to commence, so we went through the small museum which illustrated Neolithic life in the Boyne valley. Son was especially fascinated by the human skeleton (a model) reclining in one of the showcases. We had to go back to look at it several times and he kept asking me hard questions like "why do we have skeletons?", "why do people die?" and "how did they get the skeleton out?". He would have also really wanted to play inside the replica of a hut.

To get you into the proper mood for a pilgrimage to Newgrange, there is a viewing platform in the visitor centre from where you can see the enormous Neolithic passage tomb outlined against the sky - weather conditions permitting. After the torrential downpour Mares and her GC got for their wedding day, the weather had turned beautiful and the view was grand. Standing there Mares and I reminisced how our landscape archaeology fieldtrips were always plagued with bad weather. Most of the time we could not see the landscape because the rain reduced visibility to a few dozen metres.

From the visitor centre there is a short walk to the shuttle bus station across the river Boyne. The bus ride took us along winding roads through Irish countryside. Once we got a glimpse of Newgrange in all its splendour - again in the proper pilgrimage fashion, as I remarked Mares - before turning a hedgerow and not seeing the site until we arrived to the foot of the hill where the tomb is situated.

I have been to some famous sites such as Stonehenge and been rather disappointed, but I have to say I liked Newgrange. Since it is one of Irelands most visited (unless it is the most visited?) archaeological sites, the stream of tourists and sightseers has to be somehow regulated, and the system with the buses and all seems to work well. Only one group of people is taken up to the site at a time, and there the group is further subdivided into two, so that half of the group get to go inside the passage tomb while the rest have a chance to walk around the site. So there are not masses of people around the site, which means you can actually see something, even if you are not very tall.

The restoration done in Newgrange with the glimmering white quartz wall has been much debated, as it has been called into question whether that stones ever were on the wall of the tomb like they are now. I am not much in favour of heavy restoration of sites, not only because they tend to imprint one interpretation over others but also because they, for me, somehow seem to take away the dimension of time, but let that be enough of the subject for now.

Luckily, inside the tomb there has not been much need for restoration work. The narrow passage between the cold stones and the high chamber in the end are almost as they would have been in the Neolithic. It is awe-inspiring to look at the stone roofing and think that the structure has withstood time more than 5000 years.

Son, who had been giddy with excitement going into the tomb, peered into each of the three side chambers and was disappointed not to find any skeletons. He found a small brass stud from someones jeans on the floor though, and kept it as his treasure.

By the way, I filled in an application for the 2009 Winter Solstice Lottery draw, so I would appreciate if you kept your fingers crossed for me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What I did in May

Good news have been cropping up lately:
- my article will be published, after all (my first ever publication in an international refereed journal)
- my paper was accepted for next year's ICAANE in London
- I got a four-month grant for writing my dissertation which means it might eventually be completed

The course in archaeological survey is almost over, the students just need to hand in the final assignments on post-fieldwork. As always, the course was an educational experience for myself in how not to do things. The course could have been better; I suppose it could have been worse. I have learned my lessons and will no doubt do different mistakes next year.

It was also an interesting glimpse into the undergraduate psyche and the pressures today's students are under. Back in the good old days when I was a student you had a certain number of months we were entitled to study grants, and how you used that time was your own business. If you used up the money before graduating, well, that was just too bad. Since then the Study Grants Board has become interested in the progress of your studies. You have to prove that you have been studying diligently, and the only way of proving that is, of course, getting enough credits. The close supervision of credits earned seems to have created a situation where the credits themselves are the end, and not the means to an end. The students do not study to learn anything, they study to get the credits.

The same system that works on the level of an individual student, works also between the Minitry of Education and the universities. The Ministry, which hands out the money for the universities, requires universities to produce a certain number of degrees yearly to get the funds to run their teaching and research. Of course the requirements rise every year without similar input into resources. The universities are effectively treated as if they were factories producing rubber boots for the left foot only. Every year the factories are required to produce more boots out of the same amount of rubber. And they say hey, you can do that if you cut the amount of raw material per boot. The boots won't last any wear, but who cares, as long as the statistics look nice - the end product is useless without the right foot boot anyway.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Women travellers in the Near East

In an earlier post about temptations I promised to comment on the books I ordered after I have read them. I haven't even started on Flinders Petrie's letters and diaries yet, but Women Travellers in the Near East, edited by Sarah Searight, is a slim volume, which I managed to read on a train to Joensuu and back.

The book is a collection of short articles on several, mainly 19th century British and American women, who travelled in the Near East - or in the Balkans in one case - for various reasons, although the last article concerned archaeologists' wives in the 20th century. The articles concentrate on less-well-known female travellers, most of whom had no "academic interest" in the area where they were traveling. People better acquintanced with British history might find some of these women familiar, but I had never heard of any of them. In that respect it was slightly annoying for me that the articles act as short introductions rather than as actual descriptions of the travels of these ladies. The emphasis of the whole volume is, in fact, not on the travels, but on elucidating how the women described the countries and people they saw on their travels, and how their notions relate to orientalism*.

For anyone interested in the actual travel descriptions, the bibliographies of the articles include the original publications of the travel diaries or letters of these women travellers, as well as references to the other books written about them. So, Women Travellers works very well as a bibliography for further reading or academic work.

*as defined by E. Said in Orientalism (1978)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Family matters

I was offered a chance to go to the Danish dig in Jarash again this year. After some consideration I regretfully declined the offer. The foremost reasons were financial, but there were also family matters to be considered. I was away from home a lot last summer, and I had sort of promised my son already that this summer would be different. I could not break that promise.

Last summer while in Jarash I was reading the biography of Gertrude Bell. She was a well-off and educated British lady who traveled widely in the Near East, especially Levant, in the late 19th and early 20th century. She documented archaeological sites - she also visited Petra - and did services to the British Army during the First World War. In her time, when most women devoted their lives to raising a family, she was most exceptional - and I dare say she would still be. Her life is fascinating. What began to annoy me when reading the biography, however, was the way how the biographer, Georgina Howell, seemed to think that all of Gertrude's achievements were just compensation for the lack of husband and children. That, in fact, the true vocation of every woman ever born is to raise a family, and Gertrude threw herself into her work just to sublimate that need. It made my hackles rise. Surely Bell could have married if she really was desperate to have children - I understand she did not lack charm or suitors. What if she chose otherwise - in those days combining family and her way of life would have been outright impossible.

Trying to have it all is still not without its complications, at least for a woman. The idea of the mother as the primary caretaker sticks fast. When I do go abroad I often face questions about who will look after my son. I remind those who ask that the child has a father, too, and one who is perfectly capable of taking care of him, and try not to feel too bad about people who sagely say that a child should not be separated from his mother for more days than he has years of age. But sometimes I can't help wondering whether I am doing my son some irreparable wrong.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Home sweet home

So the seminar is over, and normal life has quickly reasserted itself as the only reality. I brought home with me a lot of thoughts about time and travel and maybe I'll write something about those one of these days.

I finally got to visit the Acropolis, which was something of a disappointment. Currently it is really just a big construction site. And although I understand and agree that you can't let millions of tourists to mess with the ancient monuments if you want to preserve them, being forced to look at them from a safe distance leaves me cold. It reminded me of my experience of Stonehenge. After trekking across the fields along the Avenue, it came as something of an anticlimax to circle the henge with dozens of tourists. These places leave me depressed rather than impressed.

If you think places like Acropolis or Stonehenge as landscapes, they are landscapes in the most sterile meaning of the word - something to be gazed at from outside. Maybe it has to do with the materiality of experience. You need to physically engage with the monuments to experience them - to walk among the columns, to see and feel the worn stone, to use yourself as the scale to begin to appreciate their immense size and the achievement it was to raise them. I am beginning to wonder if all this restoration and protection - an attempt to somehow keep the sites frozen in time - is really worthwhile. Maybe we should just let them decay and wander about the ruins.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

On strike

Talk about some bad luck: today we had our fieldtrip day in the seminar, and of course the Greek decide to go in a general strike exactly then. Because the people looking after ancient sites and monuments are on the government payroll, the strike meant that they would be closed. Luckily in our first target, the Temple of Artemis in Brauron, the guard apparently had not heard about the strike yet and we got inside, and there is open access to the theatre in Thorikos. But there was a new fence around the silver mining remains in Laurion, and the Temple of Poseidon was closed - as well as the smaller remains of a temple of Athene nearby. There were quite a few disappointed tourists milling around at the last site.

However, despite the weather forecast which warned of a possibility of rain, the day turned out gorgeous, warm and sunny. And there were flowers of every colour everywhere. We had lunch in a taverna in Laurion and I boldly used what little Greek I can speak. Maybe we got special service due to that, since we had our food before other people from our party who had arrived earlier, and also got our bill with less problems. It always pays to learn the magic words in any language.

Tomorrow will be the last day of the seminar. This week has really flown by, and it has been both academically stimulating and socially enjoyable experience. I hope I shall meet some of the people here again in the future!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sorry, we're closed

Did you know that all the museums and archaeological sites in Athens close at 3 pm? I imagined that we will have plenty of time to go and see the sights, but so far I have managed to see Acropolis from the roof terrace of our hotel, the National Archaeological Museum from the outside (contrary to the information in the tourist guide for February and March 2009 they are not open till 7.30 pm except on Mondays) and the temple of Zeus from behind a fence. The new Acropolis Museum (to be opened in March 2009) is not open to the public yet - but if it were, it certainly would be closed at 3 pm.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I'm in Athens then, in the Nordic PhD seminar for landscape archaeology. The flight was a bit rough from Paris onwards, because there was a lot of turbulence. I never get seasick but I nearly got airsick in that container called an aeroplane. Arrival made the suffering worthwhile, though. Our hotel is in a nice location close to the Akropolis and the Scandinavian Institutes. The weather is balmy. Food, wine and entertaining company are ready at reach.

The most unlikely thing happened: I had agreed to meet three other people at the airport, to share a taxi. While driving at a dangerous speed (considering none of us had our seatbelts fastened) towards the city, it turned out that all the three of us on the backseat had taken masters in landscape archaeology at the University of Leicester! Call that a coincidence!

Monday, March 23, 2009

On navigators and perceiving the world

We got a navigator for our car last Christmas. Some time ago I used it for the first time when I had to find to a place in Kirkkonummi. The logic of the navigator takes some getting used to, so of course I took a wrong turn. There is something extremely annoying about a calm male voice telling you to make a U-turn when you a driving on a road where it is not an option. So after a while I found myself screaming back at the navigator as if it were a live person. (Although no real person, and surely no male I know, would have so admirably maintained their calm in that situation.) Silly, I know - it is a machine! But any computer user surely knows that sometimes you just find it helps to vent your feelings by cursing at the dumb machine.

I have been wondering, how things like navigators will change our way of perceiving our surroundings in the long run. Traditionally people have oriented themselves using landmarks, and in most parts of the world this is still the method of finding your way. The obsession with maps is a western thing. For example, if you take a taxi in Amman, you'd better know some handy landmark near the location you're going to, otherwise it might get tricky. The streets do have names, but nobody knows them. And if you show a map to your taxi driver you are just going to make him very confused. Even we westerners don't as a rule need a map to negotiate our daily lives - we know where everything is, through experience. That is the way people normally perceive the world - not as maps or street names, but as places and relationships between them.

What will happen, when we increasingly start to rely on navigators and similar appliances to describe the world for us? Will these useful gadgets actually make us dumber when we need no longer pay attention to our surroundings to orientate? I have already noticed that following the little arrows on the navigator screen and listening to the soothing voice giving you driving instructions means you pay little attention to where you actually are. The perceived world is substituted by the virtual reality of the map on the navigator screen. And even if we don't end up in a situation where we are unable to find our way home from work without our electronic little helpers, I think we are certainly going to miss much when we hand over our perception to these machines.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I have never been very good at resisting temptations. Especially ones involving books. Although I admit that I did not even try very hard when I saw the most recent list of books on sale from The David Brown Book Company. I found a couple of very interesting titles at laughable prices: Letters from the Desert by Margaret Drower (2004), which contains letters and journals of Flinders Petrie and his wife, Hilda; and Women Travellers in the Near East by Sarah Searight (2005). I will try to find time to comment the books here after I have received and read them.

When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming an explorer. I read books about expeditions to the little known corners of the world and was an avid follower of the TV documentary series "The Silk Road", a Japanese-Chinese co-production filmed in the late 70's and shown in the Finnish telly in the early 80's. It was probably this dream which unconsciously drove me when I applied to study ethnology in the first place. Later, when it had become clear that I was not to follow the Finnish academics of the 19th century into expeditions in Siberia (I mean the ones who went voluntarily; a number of Finns were exiled there because the Tsar did not like their views), I turned my interest into archaeology. It seemed to promise at least the uncomfortable accommodation and not-too-good meals on digs, if not the excitement of discovering new territories and peoples. In hindsight, my ending up spending several seasons in Jordan, camping on a mountaintop*, was just a logical continuation of the kind of career choices I have made.

"The Silk Road" is currently being rebroadcasted on YLE Teema. And I still dream of traveling the Silk Road all the way through Central Asia to China, preferably on horse- and camelback.

Although, truth to be told, the camp was relatively comfortable and the food was actually good if a little monotonous.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reality TV

I don't, as a rule, watch reality TV. I can basically understand Idols or something similar - singing contests are, after all, nothing new in television. But there is an aspect to these TV shows that makes me wonder, and that is the aspect of purposefully humiliating the contestants. The Weakest Link was pretty lame by today's standards. The nastiness of the judges in Idols is legendary, but even then you can - at least in theory - hate the evil judges and feel sorry for the poor sod who has made a fool of him/herself. (Except that it is in the nature of most of us to side with the winner.) The worst I find shows like Fear Factor, where people are practically competing to shame themselves by doing disgusting things. (I admit I also wonder at the people who are willing to brave this televisioned humiliation in front of millions of watchers for their five minutes of fame. What kind of a sad person wants to be famous for eating s*t in the telly?)

Public humiliation used to be a form of punishment. Not long ago in our schools you might be told to go and stand in the corner for misbehaving in the classroom. A little longer while ago you would be put in the stocks for socially unacceptable behaviour, and other people would come to leer at you. Even in the more gruesome forms of punishment, such as whipping, cutting of the hand, or execution, the publicity of the punishment added an element of shame to it. By all accounts the public punishments tended to be great fun for the audience, though. The ancient Romans had really understood the amusement value, and made a spectacle of the executions of criminals.*

Most of us enlightened western people would probably detest the stocks as a form of punishment, not to mention cutting of body parts or throwing people to the lions. However, we seem to find other people's humiliation quite acceptable amusement. When our attitudes towards other people's psychic integrity are like this, do you really need to ask why our kids torment each other in schools? If it is wrong to humiliate another person, how can you watch it in the telly and say it is just a harmless passtime?

* I am not going to be greatly surprised if in the near future we see in a reality TV show people actually maiming each other. The reality TV survives by being shocking, and the more people see, the more they get used to seeing. And after all, who could oppose a modern version of gladiators - as long as it is between consenting adults?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Athens, here I come

Just a brief note: I am going to Athens in early April. A Nordic post-grad seminar will take place. The theme of the seminar is Landscape archaeology, to which the subject of my dissertation fits very well indeed. So I applied and was accepted. Amazingly enough, although I have been to Greece thrice, I have never been to Athens. That is the problem of business travels: you don't get to choose your destinations. Greece in April does not sound too bad, either, when we are still waiting for spring to come here in Helsinki.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back in the business

I finally submitted the revised version of the article. This editing process has been a very interesting lesson in academic publishing. And I swear that article is cursed, because everything went wrong with it, repeatedly, right down to when I finally sent the text and the - ahem - quite large illustration files. One of which ended in some kind of a loop somewhere in the ether and kept bouncing into the mailbox of a certain respectable and very soon - understandably - extremely annoyed person. I hope it has stopped doing that by now. And now let's not talk about it anymore. Ever.

Incidentally, I've decided to write a monograph after all.

This is also an explanation for my long silence. It is not that I ran out of things to rant about. I was just too busy with everything else. I made some notes though, and might return to some of the subjects if irritated enough. There are also plans for this year, besides finishing my dissertation, of course. You'll hear more about those in due time.