Brigid Gallagher

I’m A Celebrity, Make Me An Archaeologist! - Digging the Dirt

Sep 18, 2011

As if the archaeological world were not excited enough by the news this year that Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) and Megan Fox (actress from the Transformers Movies) are thinking about a move into archaeology… Now the English Rugby Captain, Lewis Moody, here for the World Cup, is expounding his interest in the subject.  In the headline for his interview  with the UK newspaper The Daily Mail this week it was announced, ‘Lewis Moody — I always wanted to be an archaeologist — I think I watched too many Indiana Jones Films!’ So what is this sudden public display of affection for archaeology by the celeb set all about?  Is it a flash back to childhood fantasy and dreams that are often revealed by everyday New Zealanders and Brits when I say the words,  ‘I am an archaeologist’?  Are … Read More

The Ups and Downs of Keyhole Archaeology - Digging the Dirt

Sep 09, 2011

Wouldn’t it be great if every project, every experiment and every meeting we had was fantastic, ground breaking, memorable, MONUMENTAL. The reality… this is not reality! For every fantastic, great, ground breaking (no pun intended), memorable, monumental, incredible, earth shattering (no pun intended again) archaeological site in the world…there is probably 10 if not 100 small, ordinary, even boring and unmemorable sites. Honestly, I cannot remember the finer points of every site, every cultural or time period, or project I have worked on.  It is not that some projects are more important than other’s, it’s just that some stand out.  Myself, I am a visual thinker.  I visualise moments (situations, jokes, physical actions), geographical features or a scene (groups of people, clothing, atmosphere, text) to feed the memory and trigger other thoughts. Often this peripheral information my brain contains activates … Read More

Collaborative Archaeology and Restoration on Marae DIY - Digging the Dirt

Jul 06, 2011

One of the missions I originally set for myself on Digging the Dirt was to show that New Zealand was archaeologically exciting and dynamic.  Tonight’s instalment of Marae DIY on Maori TV has to be a great example of this.  As part 2 of a double feature the Marae DIY team are undertaking the restoration of an archaeological site, Ongarahu Pa in the Western Bay of Plenty. This is the first of this type of restoration to be attempted by the series makers. The first episode last Wednesday saw the collaborative community project bringing together iwi, council, NZHPT, scientists, engineers and a television crew to: Landscape and stabilise the Pa site, add planting and erect manuka palisades. What struck me watching the episode was that collaborative discussions involving heritage do not happen very often in the public arena … Read More

Monitoring and Recording Archaeology in Canterbury…Again - Digging the Dirt

Jun 22, 2011

Christchurch heritage has once more been in the headlines over the last week or so.   The collapse and slide of the Lyttleton Timeball Station, more damage in the central area, and huge areas of liquefaction in the past week are all big news for archaeology and heritage.  Whilst I want the best for the residents of Christchurch and the surrounding area, I have been on the look out for progress in the way archaeology is handled since the February quake. As always, when I see the damage to heritage in the news, are two nagging questions:            1: What is the effect of liquefaction on buried archaeological remains in the quake zones?           2: Are the buildings being monitored and recorded appropriately? Luckily for me archaeologist Katharine Watson presented a paper at this years NZAA conference, and provided many of the answers to the … Read More

New Zealand Archaeologists at the ‘Coal Face’ - Digging the Dirt

Jun 14, 2011

Last week the New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA) Conference was held in Havelock North. A great venue to get a picture of some of the projects and relationships archaeologists are involved in; it demonstrated that archaeology and heritage are alive and kicking here in Aotearoa. It was really good to listen to, discuss and witness themes and initiatives keeping archaeology relevant to modern life. Presentations ranged from: coastal erosion and climate change, to genetic disease predisposition in Polynesian groups, to problems of storage and collections policies for museums and archaeological collections, to the recording of at risk sites and the most appropriate ways to approach this. There were prehistoric and historic sites, archaeological and anthropological research, iwi perspectives and scientific perspectives.  Maps, documents, survey, excavation, digital technology and dissemination were all on display. Benefits to, and roles in, nature conservation, … Read More

Virtual Archaeology with Time Team is going Live Now – Medieval Chapel - Digging the Dirt

Jun 02, 2011

Last night I had an email from Time Teams location manager Kerry Ely.  Originally he was the archaeological site supervisor and  great man to have around on a dig.   He said that he was in the pub in true Time Team fashion.  You can only imagine what a group of archaeologists, a television crew and a production team get up to in small towns across the British Isles! Beside him was the lovely head of sound, Stevie, and a wonderful camera assistant named Jack.  All in all I can imagine a rowdy bunch of around 60 + people, joking, discussing the last week, and discussing archaeology.  Pubs are the uncensored labs, offices and meeting rooms for British archaeologists. They are often where the best work and ideas are thought over, debated over and decided, or not. The Time Team are away on their 5th shoot of the series for the next … Read More

Space Archaeology and the Discovery of Buried Egypt - Digging the Dirt

May 28, 2011

Once upon a time archaeology was about being out with a map, a compass, a trowel and a good pair of boots.  Now its ‘Move over Indy’… Space Archaeology is here…the final frontier.  News reports this week here and here  described how images of lost, undiscovered or misunderstood archaeological sites using NASA satellites, 435 miles above earth, are changing our understanding of ancient Egypt.  By directing an infrared ray and a camera at earth, buried sites, not visible on the surface, come to life for archaeologists to study, governments to administer and security guards to protect. This is what popular archaeology is all about…exploration and discovery!  I’ll bet this is what many archaeologists born in the 70’s grew up believing in.  1.  21st century technology, 2.  The ability to dig and understand archaeology without actually digging it, 3.  Pointing … Read More

Big Dig Archaeology - Digging the Dirt

May 15, 2011

One of my pet subjects is public or community archaeology. Not surprising given my years with Time Team, so… This week is National Archaeology week in Australia! Ok, so it is not New Zealand, but the event that has taken my eye, and is happening this weekend, right now….it is the BIG DIG. Located in Sydney’s The Rock’s district, in a partnership between the YHA and the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, the Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre is a massive educational and excavation undertaking. It is described on its website as           ‘the largest archaeological urban development ever completed in Australia. It demonstrates that the conservation of in-situ remains as part of a modern building can enhance visitor experiences and interest, as well as preserving sometimes fragile archaeological remains in an accessible and meaningful way.’ What have they found?   Or perhaps, … Read More

Working with Stone, Connecting with the Past - Digging the Dirt

May 05, 2011

I love rocks.  The different planes of fracture, colours, inclusions, textures, strength…and sometimes fragility…optical properties, the way they feel in your hands…. What I also love about rocks is that they can be made into the most fantastic  stone tools, or as Simon Holdaway insists in his recent interview with Graeme Hill, artefacts.  One of the beauties of this is that different stone types lend themselves to different tool or artefact forms, and different functions.  A joy of this is that when you pick up a stone artefact such as a Palaeolithic hand axe or side scraper, a Mesolithic microlith, a New Zealand prehistoric adze or toki, or an obsidian blade; you can literally feel the way in which it is supposed to sit in your hand, or in a shaft.  Even in prehistory our ancestors appear to … Read More