Sunday 24 June 2012

Live-blogging Pod Hradem Cave or Bust!

Destination 2012: Jeskyně Pod Hradem, Moravské Kras, Česká republika.

Fourteen days. Two weeks. One fortnight. Half a month. That's how much time is left between this moment and the time I step off the bus in Brno, Česká republika, to spend the next three weeks working on the Pod Hradem Cave Archaeological Project.

World headquarters.
Yep. Here at The Subversive Archaeologist world headquarters the logistical team is ramping up their efforts. The staging area has been cleared of all the dirty laundry, and the important stuff is starting to find its way there--pain reliever, all the medications that the sexagenarian Chief Archaeologist takes just to stay on an even metabolic and mental keel, passport (Canadian, of course), copies of emails from Lad Nejman inviting me to come and play (in case the authorities get curious), 90's vintage Optivisor (also indispensable for a sexagenarian), and much, much more.
     The proprietor of Chata Macocha has a double room booked for my sole use, and they're stocking up on Punkva River trout, 'cause they know that's what this project uses as nightly fuel.
Chata Macocha, atop the Macocha Gorge, circa 1920.
The place is little changed from it's early days, and in colour it's very cheery. Those red umbrellas are waiting to shelter me on the long mid-latitude sunny week nights.

I won't be excavating. Arthritic erosion in my patellae [what Al McMillan calls archaeologist's knees] makes for an exciting trip up slopes like the one shown below, which is the way up to the cave.

Any of you familiar with the difficulties of showing the degree of inclines on a two-dimensional photo will realize immediately that this is one steep slope. The project's field laboratory is where I'll be working for the most part. 
Field laboratory, in Skalní mlýn.
     The lab itself is a rather sombre-looking, disused outpost of the Soviet era Czech Geological Survey. The kitchen is where I'll be plying my trade, examining the fine fraction for scraps of animal bone.
Showing his true colours [he bleeds blue and gold] with project PI Ladislav (Lad) Nejman, in 2011.  
'Cause that's one of the things I'm trained to do--pore over samples of bone like this one...
The gnarled paw is mine [rhg].
I wish I could express to you the joy I experience sitting by the hour separating potentially identifiable from non-identifiable osseous material, to say nothing of the time spent making counts of bunches of pieces like this. A one-litre bulk sample might contain 600 or 700 tiny bits. Like most such size fractions, you see everything from tiny fragments of the massive cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) to individual teeth of microtinae, and every body size in between. It's a constant reminder of what Vale and Gargett were saying in 'Size Matters' and our response, 'There's something fishy going on around here' to the published criticisms of Ken Gobalet and Zohar and Belmaker. That back and forth was invigorating, and for those of you who've read them all, you'll know that the critics were roundly defeated, leaving the field ours. ['scuse the affected Renaissance battle terminology.]
[here I would have placed the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin turns to Hobbes and states, matter-of-factly, something like 'archaeology is the most mind-numbingly boring activity on the planet.' Alas, I couldn't find it on the web!]
      All in all, your Subversive Archaeologist is looking forward to a much-needed field excursion, contributing substantively to my discipline, feeling like I belong somewhere, AND to live-blogging the whole thing. The iPad is all set to go, the Czech SIM card will be waiting for me when I arrive. For you who've helped me to get there, by donating to the SA, thank you from the heart of my bottom. Each of you will have a blurt dedicated to you from the field, and some of you more than one! 
     And, for those of you with the wherewithal (i.e. disposable income--many of you don't, I realize) there's still a chance to help keep me from long-term pecuniary difficulties as a result of the unsubvented cost of my participation in the Pod Hradem Cave Project. If you like what you see here, it's easy enough to help. And, because the process uses the long experience of PayPal, it's the most secure way to move money on the web. No need to worry about identity theft using PayPal. The Donate [please] Button is at the top of the page on the right. Your contribution will be gratefully received.
     And just so you know, regardless of your response to my passing around the hat, in the past or at this moment, your attention to the Subversive Archaeologist is really all the support I need. That ongoing kindness you show me is greatly appreciated.
     See you back here tomorrow!
Show your support for this blog. Remember that when you purchase from Amazon by clicking any of the links on the right, you'll be getting great discounts and supporting the Subversive Archaeologist's field activities at the same time!

1 comment:

  1. Someone has to say it. the live blog will be iPod Radhem. Does that mean you are not an Android?


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