I changed my mind. I AM going to field school. I don’t really WANT to go to field school, but I need to. Let’s face it: I am old and am pressed for time to get experience if I want to be a competitive candidate for graduate school. They require experience in excavation, lab, and survey. I have the first two. I don’t have the last.
This year’s TAS field school in Palo Duro Canyon State Park is heavy on the survey and that is a good thing for me, but holy heck…why does it have to be in the middle of the prairie?! It’s going to be so flipping hot, and that’s really why I don’t want to go. At least there are two survey types: light and rugged. Light survey will be looking at known or potential sites near the roadside in the state park and the rugged survey will be exploring the canyon looking for new sites. I’m signing up for light because I am old and fat and out of shape. I just need to learn the survey techniques, but that doesn’t have to mean hiking through the boonies. Save the rugged for the young whippersnappers who don’t have weak ankles and can bounce over rocks and avoid rattlesnakes.
I’m not taking Nora this year because I don’t want to spend 8 hours in a car alone with her and I don’t think the youth program is going to be all that exciting this year. She wants to go to camp, anyway. I did get a nice Air BnB in Amarillo about 30 minutes away.
Let’s just hope I don’t meet another suicidal deer this year. I don’t think I can take totaling another Subaru on a damn deer that’s hellbent on committing suppuku.
I need to buy some good hiking boots and some long pants. Hooray for an excuse to go clothes shopping! I should do a post about the challenges of putting together an excavation wardrobe when you’re a woman and plus sized to boot. That’s been a whole other adventure, but all I’m going to say is thank god for the Columbia clothing company for being size conscience and not just carrying misses’!
Shifting gears, I’m starting to think about what I’d like to do for a bachelor’s thesis. I’ve always been interested in Vikings and anthropology of childhood, which is why I’d like to go to Sheffield University because they have a great center just for the archaeology of childhood. It’s not that surprising that I’m interested in studying kids since I’m already a teacher. Anyway, I read a cool paper recently lamenting about the lack of archaeology of Viking children. This seems right up my alley. It jives with my current career and interests, where I want to go for postgraduate work, and with what’s going on where I currently live.
The local medieval fair, Sherwood Forest Fair, and Thorin’s Mead are teaming up to open the Texas Viking Festival this coming December. There’s a launch party next month on the 23rd that I am definitely going to. I’d love to do an ethnographic study on Viking reenactors. Yeah, I know that’s more cultural anthropology than archaeology, but my undergrad is going to be in anthropology because that’s the way US universities go (remember that archaeology is a subdivision of anthropology).
The thing about reenactors is that they are (or they should be) very particular about historical authenticity. That means keeping on top of current archaeological discoveries. One of the questions I’d like to ask when I’m doing my interviews is what kind of research they perform when they are putting together a new persona. Do they pay attention to archaeology? There have been lots of exciting discoveries in the past few years concerning Vikings, discoveries that could very well impact the authenticity of a reenactor’s portrayal.
I’m immersing myself in Viking sagas and mythology for now. I figure the best way to begin learning about an ancient society is through their stories. Hey, I’m an English teacher! Are you surprised? I also plan on listening to The Viking Age Podcast while I walk in the mornings before work (I need to get in shape for field school).
I found a neat ethnographic doctoral dissertation about ren faires that I want to thoroughly read sometime when I’m not so busy, but I glanced over the abstract and the table of contents and it looks intriguing.
I’m also no stranger to Renaissance/Medieval festivals and reenactors. I’ve been attending them since I was 15 or 16 and was on the casts of a few as an actor. The rennie community becomes very close knit because they spend so much time together in pre-season workshops (16ish hours every weekend) and then during the run of the season itself. They become like your family. I confess that I really miss that family. Going to a ren fair is like going home, doesn’t matter whether it’s Scarborough, TRF, or Sherwood. Oddly enough, it’s been over 20 years since I was on a cast and I STILL know people in the circuit. Isn’t that wacky?
This is a very rare photo of me as Lady Godiva at the now defunct Hawkwood Medieval Fantasy Fair in 1998 (last cast I performed in). This is during the Snype Hunt and Godiva adamantly refused to believe that the Snype was real, even if he was right in front of her face (he’s crouching on the table and grinning at the camera while I am expounding on the stupidity of hunting a nonexistent bird). She insisted he was not the mythical snype, but just an overgrown chicken.
It was actually what we called a “lane bit,” which is a rehearsed scene you can do at any time when you encounter other villagers. Festival actors mostly rely on strong improvisational skills since they live that character for 10 or more hours a day, but there are some rehearsed bits. Snype and I came up with this because we thought it would be hilarious to have one of the nobles who refused to believe in his existence, even if he was standing right in front of her. We also did this to protect him. He liked to hide behind me while people yelled, “GODIVA! STOP THAT SNYPE!” and I would huff and roll my eyes and bellow, “Be thou fools? How many times must I tell thee that the Snype be not real?! Thou seest the village chicken, who be most overgrown from feeding on the baker’s bread. God’s teeth, get thee away from this poor fowl and get thee a life!” It was one of my most favorite bits of playing Godiva (who was obsessed with men and getting married…you can’t see the giant butterfly net I had for chasing men in this photo). Good times!
So, I used to work at historical reenactment festivals. Is it any wonder that I got into archaeology? 🙂
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