Brigid Gallagher

A hadrosaur dinosaur in Mexico and a science conscious Mother - Digging the Dirt

Jul 24, 2013

Today I had a flash back.  Our 3 year old was having a pout about not seeing any bones at the Auckland Art gallery and that they had not been to the museum.  And our 6 year old was describing her favorite pieces at the Gallery which were the Maori designs and patterns…and I thought… HANG ON A MINUTE!!! GRRRRRUUPPTTTTT, Backup! And then I found this, something I had previously written but not got around to posting here… about a year or so ago when the Wiggles were doing their swan song tour of NZ (before the new Wiggles came into power) I was trying desperately trying to find cool science within the songs and messages.  I was looking for a glimmer of the nuts and bolts stuff that my young ones would suck up and absorb for all eternity…and … Read More

What in Earth???? - Digging the Dirt

Feb 19, 2013

So you are looking to buy or develop a nice piece of land on our beautiful New Zealand coastline? I can see it now…the long gin and tonic, the slice of lime, the sound of native birds hopping about a canopy of lush green native flora… Yerrrkkkkk!!!! Whats that? There is an archaeological site in your land??!?! What in earth is an archaeological site anyway? In the New Zealand Archaeological Associations digital database ArchSite it is a small red dot usually with a large black rectangle attached to it, and a number next to it. On the New Zealand Historic Places Trust register it is probably not there. On your local district plan it might be a green dot with, a number  next to it. A LINZ or PINZ report will show it as a small mark, like a dot, … Read More

Richard III – A Right Royal Scientific Synthesis Recipe - Digging the Dirt

Feb 11, 2013

My text and email has been alive the past weeks.  “You must be really fascinated”, ” WOW, is it cool!”, “Have you been watching news”. What has it all been about?  Richard the III of course! The coolest thing about this? Is that the use of a well know person or family can drag archaeology and heritage out of the past and into the future, and todays  reality.  The biggest curse of heritage is that people cant see the point of doing it, hearing about it, accommodating it in today’s society.  A story like Richard III cuts through all of that. A story about a royal immediately gives flesh to the subject.  You see the paintings, read the text (even Shakespeare’s version), can visit the castles, the churches, and the carpark if you fancy it.  It is tangible.  On the outside … Read More

3-D X-Ray is Big News for Archaeological Research - Digging the Dirt

Sep 13, 2012

ArtInfo has released an article today which has me very excited, and thinking of ways it could be used in New Zealand archaeology.   Instead of having to consolidate (or glue together) a fragile pot, urn, vessel, or block of loose soil,  with low concentrate adhesives, co-polymers, acrylics and the like, And then slowly micro-excavate the contents inside by hand (with really small tools, a delicate hand and meticulous recording) with a 2-D x-ray image or CT-Scan at your side to guide the operation. This extremely cool piece of kit designed by Nikon to check the condition of turbine blades for Rolls Royce airplane engines is now being used by archaeologists at the University of Southampton to blast not one, but multiple rays  at an object, subject or material from different angles….before it has been excavated.  Image above: Courtesy of University of Southampton The reason this is so great?  A 3-D image is … Read More

To Destroy, or Preserve? That is the Question on the Effects of Volcanism in Archaeology - Digging the Dirt

Aug 16, 2012

In front of me a volcano is erupting.  This is a slight exaggeration…but from my window last Friday, I could see a long low trail of ash from White Island spread above the horizon, and small billows of white changing form where another burst of steam spews forth. I have been fighting the urge to go and buy a stronger set of binoculars in case I miss something.  I have always been fascinated by volcanoes.  It started in earnest during 5th form geography when my teacher Sally Brodie (I really should thank her!) picked up the phone in her office and rang eminent geologist Sir Les Kermode. The conversation went something like this… “I am with a student who feels that she cannot fulfil the requirements of her project on the Tongariro Volcanic Field because she cannot adequately explain the … Read More

Ground Truthing Archaeological Evidence at Castle Howard - Digging the Dirt

Aug 06, 2012

‘I am looking for archaeological evidence [before I believe it]’ says field archaeologist Phil Harding during a  recently aired Time Team episode. On a site where archaeological remains are suspected,  archaeologists go equipped with information ranging from maps, plans and sketches, to remote sensing technology , specialist expertise and experience, but none can guarantee the survival, location or form of  human activity until the ground is dug. Archaeologists get a true and accurate picture of time and place by gathering the evidence in the ground to understand past activities. Deciding which ground and how much of it is a fundamental decision for most archaeological projects due to value, time and cost pressures. In this case Phil was referring to archaeology being excavated at Castle Howard in Yorkshire.  I remember this site fondly as it was the second shoot that … Read More

Grizzly Beastly Magically Science Stories in Museums - Digging the Dirt

Jul 31, 2012

Of late I have been caught up with young children and the real world of a heritage conservation and archaeology business. But now I am back and wanted to kick off  with some thoughts about a small museum. One that is fairly typical of many we have visited and have littered about NZ.  This weekend I was seduced by a heritage museum website.  It reeled me in with ‘Family’,’ Hands On’ and ‘Re-created’– good graphics, pleasing colours, black and white photos of people from the past…. And so I dragged my family along. To be fair, I did not have to do much dragging…we are always pleased to find a new place to visit.  As far as we knew this museum had been closed, was now under new management in place, and had reopened, revitalised…with a new enticing website. But why o why were we so disappointed?! … Read More

New Evidence of Controlled Fire Use by Ancestors, 1 million years ago, at Wonderwerk (Miracle) Cave, South Africa - Digging the Dirt

Apr 03, 2012

  Ask anybody today what the fundamental requirements of life are, and they will tell you….food, shelter, lighting, warmth, their iphone… Ask anybody in prehistory what the fundamental requirements of life are, and they may tell you….food, shelter, lighting, warmth… And for most of this, until recently, that meant fire.  Fire to protect, Fire to cook, Fire to see, Fire to sustain. And at times, it was Fire to communicate. Scientists and archaeologists have today released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that humans, or rather hominids, our direct ancestors, were able to harness and control fire approximately 600,000 years before previously accepted dates. New evidence is pointing to a new date of 1 million years ago (1Ma). The article, … Read More

Auckland Museum Research and Scholarship Medals, and the future Research Centre - Digging the Dirt

Feb 29, 2012

During a night of celebration, expectation and promise at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Trust Board and key figures at the Museum, including the recently appointed director, Roy Clare, re-instigated the Auckland Museum Medal Awards.  Lauded as a return to the original intent of museums, to care for and conduct research on its collections, there was a distinct feeling of change for the better amongst the speakers.  Four eminent New Zealander’s who have dedicated of their lives to excellence in research and scholarship were recognised with all involved in some way in the furthering our understanding of the history and heritage of New Zealand. Those honoured were: –          the late Dame Judith Te Tomairangi o Te Aroha Binney, author and historian –          Professor Russell Stone, historian and professor emeritus at Auckland University –          the late … Read More