Reviewing the glass from the Eretz-Israel museum

On Thursday I went to the Eretz-Israel museum in Tel Aviv, and because I am a huge glass nerd (and, y’know, I’m doing tourist things as well but I am technically in this country to study ancient glass) I spent basically the entire time in their glass gallery ogling pretty Phoenician core-formed alabastra and Roman mould-blown bottles. So my reduced posting schedule this month doesn’t sting too much, here’s my definitive expert review of all the things there that most stuck out to me:

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Anonymous asks:

What would you study if not Classics/archaeology?

Well, when I was a kid I wanted to be a palaeontologist.  I sort of wrote that off as unrealistic when I was in high school, but actually, now that I’m a real archaeologist and dig stuff up and do proper scholarly research, honestly I do think I probably could have pulled it off if I’d kept going with biology and geology.  Evolutionary history is a fascinating rabbit hole.  I’m not sure I’d have the patience for taxonomic debates, though.  I mean, people can literally spend years arguing about whether a single jawbone represents a new species or not.

Anonymous asks:

If you’re a Classical archeologist, how come you’re so knowledgable about evolutionary biology? And is Jim as smart as you are? Curious because I admire your wide-ranging intellect!

Flattery will get you everywhere, anonymous grey sphere.

So, for my undergrad I did what in New Zealand we call a conjoint degree.  You have a higher course load, and it takes four years (instead of three, which is the standard for a bachelor’s degree in New Zealand), but you come out of it with two degrees.  As a result, although I’m an archaeologist, I actually also hold a BSc in chemistry, which is fundamental to a lot of my work, because I’m interested in analytical techniques for investigating the chemical composition of artefacts and archaeological materials (for my PhD, I want to conduct analyses of that kind on samples of Roman window glass).  I also have a better-than-layman’s knowledge of biology and statistics, but they’re definitely not specialist subjects of mine.

Jim the Editor is about half as clever as he thinks he is, but that’s still enough to make him as smart as me. 😉 He probably has broader knowledge of a lot of subjects where I tend to dive down obscure rabbit holes… which helps in keeping me honest.

Anonymous asks:

I have to read a paper on “Celtoscepticism” for a Middle Welsh course I’m taking. Archaeology is such a bizarre discipline. How do you guys get anything done?

Well, I don’t know what Celtoscepticism is because Celtic civilisation is very much not my area, but to answer your question with another question… what on earth makes you think we get anything done?

Anonymous asks:

What sorts of conspiracy theories are popular in New Zealand? Do kiwis believe in reptiloids?

Does anyone anywhere actually believe in reptiloids?  I don’t know; these things live on the internet and the internet is everywhere, so the same nonsense as people believe in the USA, I suppose.  Perhaps somewhat fewer of us, although I don’t have any statistics to back that up.  I think we have somewhat more trust in our government than the Americans do (if nothing else, it’s more transparent and less powerful than theirs) so it takes a bit more to make us believe that something really world-shattering like aliens is being covered up.  In particular, the one about the world really being flat is a very difficult one to take seriously when you live in the southern hemisphere, simply because we’re more conscious of the practical consequences of the fact that it’s round.

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