January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Welcome to the Speakers' Corner, where members presented monthly seminars.

Moderators: Bracken, Oakapple

Forum rules
If you find a topic of interest and want to continue the discussion then start a new topic under The Hearthfire with a similar name and add a link back to the topic you want to continue.
To copy a link just copy the url on the top left of your browser and then put in your post, highlight it and press the url button.
User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 08 Jan 2013, 20:05

Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists: Is there a common ground?
Giovanna Fregni


Can a dialogue be established between archaeologists and druids, and if so how can we accomplish this?
This seminar grew out of an article I wrote last year for Touchstone. In the article (sections of which will be interspersed throughout the seminar for those who do not receive Touchstone) I explored the difficulties that have grown to create a divide between druids and archaeologists and the differing views of how heritage should be studied and presented to the public.

Who I am
I have been a member of OBOD for many years, starting out in the US as a member of the Geal Darach Grove in Minneapolis. When I moved to the UK, I joined the Setantii Grove in Manchester. The reason I came to the UK was to pursue a masters and PhD degrees in archaeology at the University of Sheffield. I received my MSc in 2009 and am in the process of writing up my PhD thesis.

What is archaeology?
The classic definition of archaeology is the study of human activity through the examination of their remains. These remains are not only bones, but also the material culture (the things people made and the materials the used to make them), the things they ate, and the way in which people used the landscape. However, this is a rather new concept. Archaeology only really began as a discipline in the mid-nineteenth century when gentlemen (and some gentlewomen) explored monuments, dug up an alarming number of burial mounds, and began to ask questions as to what the stuff they found was and how it got there. The field became increasingly sophisticated with the development of better excavation and recording methods, and the use of scientific analyses such as carbon dating, isotope and DNA analyses, and other methods that continue to provide more detailed data.

As a result, archaeology has become multidisciplinary. It uses tools and concepts from as diverse subjects as engineering, physics, geology, anthropology, geography, philosophy and social theory … the list goes on almost without end. Not only are there field archaeologists, and lab techs, but there are specialists in materials such as pottery, metals, and textiles. There are archaeologists who specialise in structures, others who specialise in plant remains, osteologists, and forensic archaeologists. There are archaeologists who experiment with recreating ancient technology, and then there are curators and conservators who work as museum staff.

Academic archaeology
In the 1950’s there was a movement call New Archaeology (later it became known as Processual Archaeology) that sought to use the newer scientific resources combined with anthropology to better understand human life in the past. They embraced the new technology that provided more kinds of analysis with more accurate data and insisted on rigorous adherence to the scientific method. They now could work with hard facts rather than guess work about dating artefacts or the techniques that people used to make objects. Processual archaeologists concentrated on the information that the data could provide.

In the 1970s a significant rift developed that divided the archaeological community. Another group, who called themselves Post-processualists felt that the human element was being lost. They felt that the data should be examined combined with theory and ethnographic work to have a more complete understanding of life in prehistory. In addition, Post-processualists used theoretical techniques such as phenomenology, a study that emphasised the sensual experience of the world that included smells, sounds, touch, and other sensations. In addition, they rejected the view that humans of the past would behave in logical ways as defined by modern western society. For instance, people might deliberately use the land in a way that might not be the most efficient, or that objects might have an influence on human behaviour, rather than being passive tools.

To the Processualist viewpoint, the high level theorising of the Post-processualists was too close to making up fairy tales. They believed that if an object or a theory couldn’t be tested, it couldn’t be proved.

At the same time, modern social changes were influencing archaeology. New areas of studies were a direct result of the civil rights and feminist movements in the US. Subjects such as gender archaeology emerged. There was a greater awareness of social class that resulted in archaeologists focussing more on the lives of the commoners and slaves rather than the pharaohs and kings. The cat was out of the bag and more archaeologists looked to anthropology, psychology, economics, and other fields to find foundations for larger theoretical frameworks.

Until this point “ritual” was a dumping ground for anything that could not be understood. If an object did not have any apparent use, it was labelled a ritual object. Likewise if something could not be explained, for instance a deer skull at the bottom of a grain storage pit, it was consigned to the ritual category. “Ritual” was a cabinet of curiosities that contained interesting things, but were ultimately useless because they could not be explained. The only ritual act that provided solid data was burial. But with rise of Post-processualism, these objects were picked up and freshly examined using new ways of thinking about society and material culture. Women and children were no longer invisible members of the community. Ethnographic studies could be used to show that women did more than cook and weave cloth, and that ritual was an integral part of community life. Authors such as Johanna Brück, Leroi-Gourhan, Ian Shanks, and Janet Spector explored new interpretations, pushed theory to the limit, and provided new perspectives. However, the divide still exists, and the subject of ritual is one that must be approached carefully and with caution.

The debate
I wrote this very brief introduction to modern archaeology to point out the discomfort that so many archaeologists have with ritual. Many archaeologists feel that a ritual explanation is a cop-out and that interpretations should have a more practical, grounded explanation. The word itself can still set off arguments at conferences. So when the media reports (inaccurately) that druids re-create ancient rituals, many archaeologists react derisively because they have no other source information than the usually sensationalist stories in the news. Unfortunately the media also tend to show Druids as loose cannons, rushing in where archaeologists fear to tread.

The misconceptions exist on both sides. The archaeologist is shown as the practical, hard-nosed scientist, who cares little for anything other than the narrow focus of a particular field of research. In the debate between druids and archaeologists, the archaeologists often come off as uncaring of others’ sensibilities, or ruthless in their pursuit of science. This image is just as damaging as the other extreme of the crazed pagans that the media enjoy to seek out.

It is difficult for many to convey the sense of wonder, the connection to the past that is the reason so many people become archaeologists. The same might also be said for pagans.

I have an example of how two very different people came to realise that they really weren’t so far apart in their beliefs.

Last spring I was invited to join a group of adult A Level students who were on a week-long trip to Wiltshire. A friend of mine was leading the group through the countryside in order to show them how Stonehenge, Avebury, Durrington Walls, and other significant Neolithic sites were a part of an interconnected landscape.

My friend is agnostic and has little use for New Age, Pagan or Druid ideas. He had excavated at Stonehenge and Durrington Walls, and it didn’t help that his main association with Druidry had been through King Arthur Pendragon while he worked at Stonehenge. During the trip some of the students talked about feeling the energy of some of the sites. We were walking in places that they’d only read about, and it was exciting for all of us to look out and try to imagine the landscape as it had been thousands of years ago. It’s hard not to feel something when hiking to a forest clearing and coming upon huge burial mounds, or stepping from the bright sunlight into the dim interior of the West Kennet Long Barrow.

However, the talk of energy and sensing the surroundings was getting on my friend’s nerves, and when we reached Durrington Walls, he started to get abrupt with some of them. Seeing that no good could come out of this, I took him aside and asked him why he was an archaeologist. We all know that it’s not a career choice that will make you a lot of money, and the only glamour in the job is strictly in the movies. Archaeology is something more than a job; it’s a way of understanding and making sense of our world. He had to admit that he did have a feeling about Durrington Walls. He had excavated there and he felt it was special place. It was where people built their homes, worked, had families, and died long ago. All that’s left is a grassy field surrounded by embankments. But to someone who knows how to look at the landscape, it all becomes alive again. There are all the houses, the places where people walked, and lived their lives. In the mind’s eye the place is alive again, even though most of it is still in shadows and we will never know the whole story. We talked for a while about what he felt about Durrington Walls and other sites that were special to him, and how those feelings compared to the students’ feelings of energy. It turned out that there wasn’t that much difference. There’s a connection to the past, a curiosity about life long ago, and for some there’s a bond with ancestors. After the talk, my friend became interested in the feelings that the students had. He asked them how they felt at different sites, and if one place seemed different from another. He’s still very practical, and still very agnostic, and I seriously doubt he’d show up at a gathering, but he does have an appreciation for how others sense things, and the validity of those feelings.

Who owns the past?
This is a driving question in heritage management and the ownership of antiquities. But it also tied to who defines the past. Who decides which stories are told and how they are represented? Modern druids are caught in a debate over Iron Age identities in Britain and the continent, if only because they chose the word “druid” to describe who they are. The situation is further muddied when modern druids seek to have a voice in the management of Neolithic monuments, such as Stonehenge. To an archaeologist this all appears to be jumbled nonsense, especially when arguments become heated and there are claims made for ancestral links to the site. While there might be a few who feel that they have unbroken genealogical ties to a site, it appears that the two sides are once again describing the same idea, but not recognising each other’s words. People who have lived and worked in an area feel a close connection to the land, while others who have studied a site feel similar connections, and all of us who care about heritage have emotional ties sites that are significant to us and our communities. Preserving a site or monument for future generations is a prime focus for both druids and archaeologists, but how best to do this, and also how the site should be used or made available to the public or study are contentious points. Here in Britain the government intervenes to try and strike a compromise. Often it is not to everyone’s liking, but the debate needs a moderator that will consider both sides in how to best preserve our common heritage.

Bridging the gap
Archaeology is opening up to include voices from Pagans. This was highlighted by the decision at Manchester Museum where they included a pagan consultant as part of the team for the design of the Lindow Man: a Bog Body Mystery exhibit in 2008. There is an increased sensitivity to the public’s views on the display of human remains, and while compromise is difficult, engaging a wider range of people in the decision making process benefits museums by having a public who understands the variety of opinions and including them as important considerations when planning an exhibit. While the inclusion of a pagan on a curatorial team did produce a few comments from the rest of the public, there was not much fuss over the issue. Her appointment represented progress and good will for pagans in other areas of archaeology and it is hoped that other opportunities for pagans to join in will become more frequent.

Coming from the US gives me some advantages. Early on I talked with friends and students who were Native American. I learned myths and stories about places and grew to understand that while the stories did not match the science, trying to make them fit did not matter. What did matter was that I learned to look at an archaeological site with more than one set of eyes, and I learned the importance of understanding how both the stories of the Natives and the archaeological data were valid.

What archaeologists can bring to the dialogue
Archaeology honours the past. By understanding the landscape, the details of an excavated site, the positions of the artefacts we find there, we can reconstruct the activities of people long ago. Archaeology isn’t about finding treasure. The objects we find are treasured clues to understanding the way people lived. Druids also seek for that connection to the past, through scholarship and rituals that re-enact the old stories and myths. However, archaeology is a science and we are bound to follow the rules in order to reconstruct the past as accurately as possible. Many of us work with multiple visions, but in the end they must be trimmed to fit the facts as we know them. In this sense archaeology can bring new ideas, new discoveries, and accurate data, although that data will always be modified as newer technology and discoveries come to light.

What Druids can bring to the dialogue
This is a hard time for archaeology now. Archaeology is deemed a luxury when seen in the light of austerity measures. Part of this is because archaeology has become distanced from the public. In the past the public was invited to watch or even participate in excavations. I know several people who became professional archaeologists after volunteering on a few digs while on holiday. But as health and safety issues erected barriers, archaeology became less participatory activity, and more of a passive entertainment where rather than digging, people watched programs like Time Team. Archaeology needs to engage people and interact with the public. Not only to put trowels in people’s hands, but also to allow people to have closer contact with their heritage.

Archaeology has not recognised that paganism and druidry is an active way in which people engage with the past. Not as re-enactors, or as people who believe they are continuing a tradition that extends back to the Iron Age, but as a set of beliefs that honours the past and the land. The active participation of pagans and druids in the various spheres of archaeology can bring fresh ideas, but there is also much needed mutual support for projects that are being undermined by administrations that would rather bulldoze archaeological sites than to preserve heritage for future generations.

The common ground
At its very basic, archaeology is storytelling. Many wouldn’t think of it that way, but just sit in a pub with some archaeologists and the stories will pour out. Even in academic circles, our interpretations of archaeological sites tell the stories of lives lived in the past.

When people ask me what was the best thing I ever excavated, I tell them that it was a story. When we’re crouched there in the dirt, trowelling away, we are uncovering a narrative bit by bit, reconstructing the events that happened in that space as if we were fitting together the sherds of a pot. However, there are rules to this kind of storytelling. Most importantly, the story must fit with the data available. The data can be interpreted in different ways, and it can also be disputed. When new data is discovered, the old stories are challenged, and new ones may take their place. Even so, the old stories are kept so that we remember how things were, what we as archaeologists used to believe. Archaeology has its own myth cycle, and like the ones of modern druids and pagans, it is constantly evolving.

Of course Druids are storytellers, too. In OBOD we begin as Bards, learning the story cycles and history of the order. We learn to experience the world for ourselves, and discover new stories and new ways of looking at the world. There may be fewer constraints on the stories, but then Druids are allowed poetic licence.

Perhaps one of the earliest ways in which humans formed bonds was to sit around the fire and share stories. There is magic in the stories from distant lands and ancient times. The stories told around a table in a pub or at a campfire can still create those bonds, and create an understanding that can bridge the differences between science and art. Monuments and the places that are now archaeological sites have never been static. Stonehenge was rebuilt and rearranged at least four times before it fell out of use, and after that it continued to change as people robbed parts of it to use the stone for buildings and fences, and then later it became a protected monument. The biographies of these places continue on through today as they are rediscovered, redefined and put to new uses. It’s necessary to be reminded that the story continues and that it can be interpreted in many ways.

Druids and archaeologists have much to offer each other. Now is the time for a convivial dialogue between two groups that share common interests, and down deep are not really that different.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Whitemane
OBOD Bard
Posts: 1454
Joined: 19 Jan 2012, 21:21
Gender: Male
Location: Columbus, OH, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Whitemane » 08 Jan 2013, 20:35

:applause:

A very nice piece, very well stated, and very informative.

I will talk with any archaeologist and listen to interpretations and criticisms, as long as there is a reciprocal desire to listen to my point of view.

I'm dissappointed to hear that the public are no longer able to help at digs. Are there other ways one could help, e.g. supplying cups of tea and running errands (getting fresh supplies of shovels)?
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on.

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 08 Jan 2013, 21:54

Hi Whitemane,

Thanks for the compliments.
There are still public digs, but it's not as informal as it used to be. Some places that offer training usually charge, but there are community digs that are free. Usually these provide tools and equipment as well as training. The best way to find out about them is to contact your local museum, or university archaeology department. I know of a few that are going on in the Sheffield area that welcome volunteers.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
treegod
OBOD Druid
Posts: 2144
Joined: 26 Apr 2007, 16:28
Gender: Male
Location: Catalonia, Spain
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby treegod » 09 Jan 2013, 10:24

Very interesting. I haven't read the whole piece, but I shall go on reading. :)

User avatar
mark the compost elf
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 247
Joined: 25 Sep 2008, 12:24
Gender: Male
Location: wigan, well crankwood really
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby mark the compost elf » 09 Jan 2013, 14:40

Congratulations Gio :) INformative, yet a good story of peace and conflict in itself :)
From decay comes growth, fungal or otherwise. All stages of death are filled with life and life to be. Creation is made up of ugly beauty that is gorgeous to those who can feel as well as they can see.

User avatar
craigen
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 137
Joined: 01 Feb 2011, 18:08
Gender: Male
Location: Birmingham UK
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby craigen » 09 Jan 2013, 20:00

A fantastic artical Gio.
It's intresting the differences you talk about between archaeologists. It's on of the only subjects you can do both a BA and a BSc in. Personally I read a BA, and I think your quite right, whilst on the BA you get the arty story telling, the folkes on the BSc did seam a bit more serious and factual. I think the beauty of modern archaeology is the mergin of the two disciplines, something that was done really well by time team (it's ashame it's been axed).
I also love the fact that you spoke about the joke of if we don't understand it, then it's got to be ritual! It's true!
For me, it was my paganism that drew me to archaeology, I wanted to understand and analyse the past. To see what we can learn, but also to be able to recognise when some one was being shall we say liberal with the truth. It's nice to be able to recognise factual inaccuracies and then judge the rest of the information with that in mind, and lets face it there is a lot of misleading information out there.
I also thought it was really intresting, that you pointed out that a lot of the sensitivities can come from the fact we choose to use the term Druid. That really should give us all cause for thought. What if with the modern founding of druidry no links to the past were established?

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 10 Jan 2013, 03:10

Thanks Craig. Oddly it was paganism that brought me to archaeology too, but in a roundabout way. I got into the works of Carlo Ginzburg. I loved the way he sifted through testemonies made during witch trials and pulled the truth from the propaganda in order to reconstruct medieval pagan practices. I studied anthropology in the US (Because archaeology is a sub-set of anthropology there), and quickly drifted towards archaeological metals. Since there's a lot of ritual associated with metalworking, I feel as if I have the best of both worlds :)

The word "druid" is a perennial problem because it means something historically, and almost nothing archaeologically. There is no archaeological evidence for druids. We have archaeological evidence of Iron Age/Roman Era people who were leaders and healers, but nothing that says they were called druids. Most of us here know of the historical accounts of druids, but those were made by others who usually had an agenda when they wrote. Still, when I'm at a site, or working with artefacts, I fell a connection to those people, no matter what they called themselves, or what others called them. One of the things that drew me to Druidry was the emphasis on learning, wisdom, and knowledge. It's wonderful to be on a path with so many people who have a deep and abiding regard for the past and the present.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Bracken
OBOD Druid
Posts: 3364
Joined: 30 Dec 2006, 03:51
Gender: Female
Location: The Lancashire moors.
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Bracken » 21 Jan 2013, 20:24

It's the last ten days for this wonderful seminar, folks. Get it while it's hot!
Image

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 24 Jan 2013, 00:01

It looks like an interesting course, but I haven't met any of the folks from Bangor. I have taken modules and had plenty of opportunities to talk with John Collis here at Sheffield. He's done a lot of great work in Celtic studies, and catches a lot of flak for his stances on some issues.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 24 Jan 2013, 16:58

Unfortunately John Collis has retired, and Mike Parker Pearson (who taught the Swords and Sorcery module on life in the Iron Age) has gone to UCL. I'm afraid there's not much left at Sheffield for late prehistoric studies.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Dathi
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 906
Joined: 18 Oct 2008, 09:16
Gender: Male
Location: Dún na nGall
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Dathi » 24 Jan 2013, 20:15

Giovanna,

Thanks for a great seminar. Rich in all sorts of aspects to ponder upon. Recently, I was engaged with the concept of Phenomenology, and figured that this was a very Druidy thing to do i.e. an aspect of the science of archaeology that Druids could contribute to. Combining Druid practice of tuning into the "spirit of place" and attempting to understand the (pre)history of a site by a combination of "Druidy" techniques and modern-day science / technology. Thus for e.g. a blend of dowsing, "sitting and thinking", observation, imagination, GPS and Google Earth, physical evidence (artifacts etc.) and the received wisdom of history / pseudo-history, myth and legend etc. can give a richer understanding of the meaning of an ancient place than any one of these techniques alone.

I liked the amateur ethos of the Antiquarians. Adm Boyle Somerville http://www.cantab.net/users/michael.beh ... index.html did some thorough investigations of sites in my neighbourhood. Although not formally an "archaeologist" he blended navigational and hydrographic skills with enthusiastic antiquarianism and a sharp pencil. All great stuff.

A member here does some interesting explorations: http://www.hedgedruid.com/

Yours aye

Dathi :sky:
:owlhorn:
Seminar. September 2010: African Druids? Sangomas, Inyangas http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... =2&t=36777

2011 LI
Seminar. October 2012: Druids & Bushcraft viewtopic.php?f=326&t=41256

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 24 Jan 2013, 20:43

Phenomonology is still controversial, especially in the States, but it is an accepted way of experiencing and learning archaeology here in Britain. Basically it it the experience of being in the world. It means engaging not only sight, but the smells, touch, all the senses in order to perceive the world.

It can be pretty mind-bending at times, and for scholarly work it involves reading a lot of philosophical works (Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Schopenhauer, to name a few). In working with archaeological metals, phenomenology is almost a necessity, especially with the experimental work. Landscape archaeology relies on it, too. Some of the authors who deal with archaeology and phenomenology can be pretty difficult to read (Christopher Tilley and Ian Shanks comes to mind) but as the field progresses more authors are writing to a broader audience. One book I can recommend is Tim Ingold's Perception of the Environment.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Dathi
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 906
Joined: 18 Oct 2008, 09:16
Gender: Male
Location: Dún na nGall
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Dathi » 26 Jan 2013, 21:09

Giovanna,
I've enjoyed (re)reading this seminar and delving deeper into various aspects. particularly pondering the Mexican stand-off between "professional" Archaeologists and amateur "Antiquarians" (term used to describe people who make an enthusiastic study of the past, but not as part of a formal occupation). The professional jealousy of "Ologists" has always amused me. "My ology is more legitimate than yours". Sociologists in particular, seem to feel the need to assiduously defend their discipline as a legitimate science;-)

And so it appears to be with Archaeology i.e. "my school of thought / practice / training is more legit than yours". But while "Professionals" are posturing there are many ways to study and delve into the past. Forensic sciences have an obvious role when it comes to bones and ancient CSI stuff, but what about Behavioural Forensic Science?

There is a book I flipped through recently and intend to read sometime. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_the_Neolithic_Mind Inside the Neolithic Mind appears to blend psych and archaeo ologies to give insights into the past. Your comment above that any inexplicable practice gets conveniently labelled as "ritual" is probably true. It is here that Anthropology may bridge the gap. Frazer and his "Golden Bough" is pretty seminal in this regard. But I still think that modern-day Druids can contribute seriously to a "scientific" understanding of the past. Modern-day Druids actively practice various forms of ritual and "shamanism" and thus have an appreciation of the power of such techniques. This surely adds a depth of insight to attempts to understand ancient behaviours. An OBODie http://www.prehistoricshamanism.com/author.php seems to have developed this approach into a legitimate discipline. "Follow the Shaman's Call" is a great wee book in this regard.

Perhaps Giovanna, your seminar is the foundation of a really useful book on how Neo-Druidry offers an acceptable set of additional tools and techniques to augment standard "scientific" Archaeology.

Yours aye,
Dathi
:owlhorn:
Seminar. September 2010: African Druids? Sangomas, Inyangas http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... =2&t=36777

2011 LI
Seminar. October 2012: Druids & Bushcraft viewtopic.php?f=326&t=41256

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 28 Jan 2013, 01:52

Archaeology unabashaedly admits that it borrows from every other discipline. We need to know geology, geography, economics, anthropology, ethnology, philosophy, and in my case metallurgy and metalworking as a craft. So, I suppose a lot of those 'ologies' will look at archaeology as an interloper. :wink: A very important part of academic work is to constantly think critically, everything must be questioned and as little as possible be taken for granted. When grey areas like ritual come into the picture, many (and especially in the US) will do their best to rationalise it and explain it in quantifiable terms. Fortunately humans are never that neat. We're very messy beings and not at all as compartimentalisable as science would like us. This is one of the reasons I enjoy archaeology in Britain. Here we can discuss things like ritual out loud. We still have to follow academic rules, cite our sources, and be able to back things up. But it is wonderful to see how pagan and druid beliefs are becoming more accepted by the general public and that a real dialogue can develop, rather than the arguments and difficult relations that have been a part of the past. I know a few people who are both pagan and respected archaeologists. As time goes on, I expect that number will increase. In the meantime I'll look forward to more conversations with OBODies and other pagans about how our beliefs can connect with and enhance archaeology.
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 29 Jan 2013, 00:42

I just wanted to give everyone a heads up on a great book I just started reading. The Problem of Ritual Efficacy Edited by William Sax, Johannes Quack, and Jan Weinhold (2010). The book takes a radical and refreshing view of how anthropologists and archaeologists should look at ritual. The immediate question is why would people throughout time, and every culture go through the effort of conducting rituals if they didn't work? The editors and contributors look at the various ways in which ritual is embodied in different cultures ranging from Bronze Age Babylonia, to Medieval Europe, to modern day India. One point that the authors make is that ritual is not abandoned because it doesn't work, but rather it fades because modern social pressure is weighted towards science and rationality (and desired westernisation with all the assumed material benefits).

"Neverthe less, the notion that ritual is ineffective is false. We know that shamanic rituals heal, legal rituals ratify, political rituals unify, and religious rituals sanctify. Rituals transform sick persons into healthy ones, public space into prohibited sanctuary, citizens into presidents, princesses into queens, and according to some, wine into blood. One of our most inmportant tasks as scholars of ritual is to explain how rituals accomplish these things (and how they sometimes fail to accomplish them), but it is important to remember that we are arguing against the grain of popular understanding". (page 7)

This is definitely a book to look at for anyone studying ritual as a cultural phenomenon, but also for someone who wants to deepen their practice through understanding how different cultures structure ritual. It's also useful for the odd conversation with the hard core atheist or those who dismiss ritual as primitive and superstitious acts. The book is an enjoyable read and is not bogged down in jargon. It's been awhile since I've read an academic book that I found so enjoyable.

By the way, if you can't find it in the library or just want a copy of your own, it's available in the Oxbow Books Bargain catalogue for £6.95 http://www.oxbowbooks.com/pdfs/catalogu ... barg13.pdf
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 31 Jan 2013, 16:31

As the month draws to a close I want to thank everyone who participated in this discussion. I had a great time writing it along with reading your responses. The next seminar is by my fellow Setantii, Craig. It might prove to be a bit controversial, so I'm interested in joining the debate!
Since it seems as if there is an interest in archaeology, I wonder if those of you who posted here would be interested in a general topic on the forum for discussing Druidry and archaeology? It could be a place to exchange the latest news and links to scholarly (and not so scholarly) articles.

Thanks again for a fun and interesting month here!
Giovanna
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Bracken
OBOD Druid
Posts: 3364
Joined: 30 Dec 2006, 03:51
Gender: Female
Location: The Lancashire moors.
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Bracken » 31 Jan 2013, 17:57

Thank you so much, Giovanna, for your month on the floor here. I think an Archaeology Thread is a superb idea. Where do you propose putting it? If you can think of somewhere good, please feel free to just dive straight in.

I'll move this topic to the Treasure trove now, but of course it is still open for discussion forever.
Image

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 31 Jan 2013, 19:00

And thatnks for having me!
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/

User avatar
Dathi
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 906
Joined: 18 Oct 2008, 09:16
Gender: Male
Location: Dún na nGall
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Dathi » 08 Apr 2013, 21:17

This project is fascinating.

http://proceedings.esri.com/library/use ... /p1030.htm

An Analysis of Pre-Christian Ireland Using Mythology and A GIS
Dimitra-Alys A. Caviness

"This paper synthesizes cultural anthropology and archaeology: it promotes mythology as a historic source for archaeological research, and uses GIS to help interpret mythological and geographical data relevant to the Celts of pre-Christian Ireland. The ArcView program establishes correlation between geographic characteristics and pre-Christian Ireland's mythology, recorded in the dindshenchas - a collection of legends describing the origins of Irish place-names. Routes are predicted by ArcView using a cost analysis query procedure and sites from the dindshenchas known to associate with the roads, thus providing archaeological reference to the Five Roads of Tara, the ancient Seat of Ireland's High Kings."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
:owlhorn:
Seminar. September 2010: African Druids? Sangomas, Inyangas http://www.druidry.org/board/dhp/viewto ... =2&t=36777

2011 LI
Seminar. October 2012: Druids & Bushcraft viewtopic.php?f=326&t=41256

User avatar
Giovanna
OBOD Bard
Posts: 179
Joined: 04 Aug 2005, 04:42
Gender: Female
Location: Minnesota, USA
Contact:

Re: January 2013 seminar - Druids and Archaeologists

Postby Giovanna » 08 Apr 2013, 22:44

That is fascinating! I would love to see it done for Wales, too.

Thanks for this!
:ohn:
it is not enough to find your passion...
you must dive straight into the fire of your fear~
where you can grab it and hold it
until it transforms you.
--Amy Jackson


Image2008 BS ImageJan 2013 - Seminar: Druids and Archaeologists

Image Image
http://fregni.livejournal.com/


Return to “The Speakers' Corner”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests