Friday 2 March 2012

Cap in Hand, Last Ditch Effort... Can You Help Me Get to Pod Hradem Cave?

If this post feels uncannily like an experience of déjà vu, I apologize in advance.  
My profile at reads 'Independent Researcher,' and gives no institutional affiliation. Even worse than having no academic edifice to call home, I'm an archaeologist without a field project. As most of you know it's like being a duck without a pond. Moreover, I've been out of the game for more than 10 years. That spells 'Hell' for me, and I suspect it would for most of you, too! 
[I would ask you to put away any thoughts of pity--I'm not asking for it. I am, however, asking for your empathy, and your charity. I hope that's not too... precious.]
     As many of you are already aware, I've received an invitation to take part in the 2012 excavations at Pod hradem Cave, near Brno, in the Czech Republic. That's the good news. The bad news is that, as with last year's field campaign, this year's funding has no wiggle room, and I'm being asked to cover most of my expenses. I'm happy enough with those constraints, because I'm very pleased that I can make a significant contribution.
     Pod hradem was the source of a collection of fauna recovered in the 1950s, and on which I based my Ph.D. dissertation. Because the 1950's investigation was archaeological, the site had been excavated with square and level provenience. To the disappointment of the excavators, Karl Valoch and Rudolf Musil, there was a very feeble record of human or hominid activity. Some levels were bereft of archaeological traces and were, to all intents and purposes, palaeontological in nature. That suited my needs perfectly, because I was looking for evidence of non-random spatial patterning that could be attributed to large mammals other than hominids. The preponderance of skeletal remains were those of the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus). 
Ursus spelaeus
Some of you'll also remember that I visited the project briefly in the summer of 2011. It was the first time I'd been to Pod hradem itself, and only my second time in that part of the world--known as the Moravské kras (or Moravian karst). I was one of only three active scholars [in the world] who had any close knowledge of the cave and its contents. The project's leader, Ladislav (Lad) Nejman, was kind enough to invite me to visit and take part if I chose to. Lad is an Australian, but is fluent in the Czech language and a citizen of the Czech Republic, thanks to his emigré parents. Lad had apparently canvassed the Australian archaeological community to locate me. As it turned out Alice Gorman remembered me from my brief academic career spent at the University of New England, in Armidale, NSW, and alerted Lad to my whereabouts. 
Lad Nejman outside Pod hradem Cave
     I took two weeks off and joined the project, although I did no digging in the cave. By the time I arrived the project had turned to full-time processing of the hundreds of 10-L buckets of site sediments (minus the larger bedrock breakdown products) that had been transported down the precipitous slope by makeshift cable-car to the roadway, and from there to a small cabin that served as the laboratory. All of the excavated sediments were then 'floated' before being wet-sieved in the ice-cold Punkva River. 

Backlog of site sediments waiting
to be processed
Without giving away the family jewels, let's just say that my expertise was useful and helpful, and Lad was as glad as I was that I'd been able to take part. In fact, I was so excited to have been invited that I took the time off without pay, and maxed out the credit card on airfare and accommodation. I can't do that again. Unfortunately, 'independent researcher' doesn't denote 'independently wealthy.' I'm able to get the time off to take part in this year's fieldwork, but it'll be mostly without pay. I have rent and other bills to cover, and the plastic is still nudging the upper limit of my credit. [Probably sounds familiar to many of you!] So, if I'm to go, I'm compelled to get creative.
Wet sieving in the Punkva River
     The first of my efforts to augment my income was to advertise my considerable writing, editing, and proof-reading skill for hire. That 'add' has resided near the top of sidebar for months. Not. So. Much. As. A. Nibble. Surely some of you can use an itinerant scholar now and again to help when a deadline looms! So, I'll ask you to keep me in mind and, please, recommend my services to anyone you come in contact with who could use some help. Thanks.       
     My first call for ideas provoked someone to suggest a Paypal 'Donor' button, where anyone with a few spare bucks could drop them directly into my Paypal account. Some old friends of mine were kind enough to contribute, and I'm very thankful to them. I hope I won't need to refund their gifts at the end of the day. However, time is short, and the 'goal' is still far from attainment. So, among other things, out of a feeling of mild desperation, I'm putting up the donor button once again in the hope that some of my new 'friends' will have the means and the grace to push it.
     I'm also actively [you mean you didn't notice?] promoting the use of my 'online store' for any of you who're planning to purchase ANYTHING at all on (i.e. in addition to those items I've chosen to highlight in the Subversive Archaeologist's Emporium, also on the sidebar). Amazon rewards the likes of me with a small percentage of your total expenditure if you click through to their web site and carry on to complete a purchase transaction at that time. So, if you're in need of (literally almost) anything at a discount, with free shipping (only for some, I presume, if your total purchase exceeds $25), I'd recommend Amazon. You'll never be disappointed. And I might just get closer to my goal of visiting Pod hradem again in 2012.
     Finally, I'm selling off prized possessions, like the 1929 2nd edition of Blossfeldt's classic Urformen der Kunst, which is showcase on the sidebar [where else?].
     Thank you for your continued fellowship, patronage, and inspiration. This subversive archaeologist never had such good and loyal friends.


  1. I didn't realise that if I brought something from Amazon it supports you as an independent researcher. You should make this more obvious!!

  2. PS. My friend needs an editor urgently or I will end up doing it! Please send your email to receive her zooarchaeology chapter 5 and 6 asap!


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