More Time Team Drama?

The Daily Mail said good morning with a rather harsh article about yet another Time Team shake-up:

While not quite as exciting as excavating buried treasure, the boffins of Channel 4’s archaeological show Time Team have managed to dig themselves into an extraordinary hole.

For just a day after it emerged that Bristol’s emeritus professor of archaeology Michael Aston had quit the programme, I learn that his much younger, attractive co-host has also walked out.

Cambridge beauty Mary-Ann Ochota, 30, a former model, has told Time Team fans she is leaving her post and will not be in the next series.

‘I always loved Time Team, and was very excited to be working with Mick — he wasn’t so keen!’ she revealed yesterday.

‘The series didn’t work out quite how I wanted it to either — needless to say I’m not coming back for the next series either!’

Mary-Ann, who holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge, also mounts a robust defence of her position on the show amid continuing speculation that she and Prof Aston did not get on.

‘I was brought in to be a co-presenter, not an archaeologist, so I could ask the questions viewers might be asking,’ she writes on Time Team’s Facebook page.

But within minutes, the site was abuzz with comments from viewers. One said: ‘You really have to establish your archaeological credentials first on the show [or] it looks like the programme producers have employed you purely for the “totty factor” despite having the appropriate academic qualifications.’

The walkouts were apparently triggered after producers decided to reformat the show, which is hosted by Blackadder star Tony Robinson, after 19 series.

Part of the reshuffle included recruiting Miss Ochota — married to children’s author Joe Craig — and archaeologist Alex Langlands this year.

According to programme  sources, Miss Ochota appeared to have a happy working relationship with most of the Time Team crew on set.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman says: ‘Mary-Ann will not be returning for the next series of Time Team, which will be aired in 2013.’

The Daily Mail article sort of glazes over two important points, which I’d like to briefly address.  The first being the Miss Ochota does tout the necessary credentials (a Master’s Degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University) to be involved with the series.  Everyone is hot to mention she modeled for Special K cereal or something, but glazes over the fact that she is an academic.  The second, and more severe tidbit that the media should be highlighting is that the network wants to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology.”  Therein lies the true crime.  “Informative stuff?”  I thought pissing on science education was limited to the US Department of Education.

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Mick Aston quits Time Team after producers hire former model co-presenter

Mick Aston, the archaeologist, has quit Time Team after producers hired a former model as the programme’s co-presenter.

The 65-year-old, who has been on the show for 19 years, said he had been left “really angry” by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter Mary-Ann Ochota and some archaeologists being axed.

In an interview with the magazine British Archaeology, Prof Aston, the show’s former site director, said: “The time had come to leave. I never made any money out of it, but a lot of my soul went into it. I feel really, really angry about it.”

He was responding to changes first proposed by producers at Channel 4 in late 2010, which included a new presenter to join Tony Robinson and decisions to “cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology”.

An email to archaeologists last year from Wildfire Television, which makes the programme, said it was seeking a female co-presenter who “does not have to be overly experienced or knowledgeable as we have plenty of expertise within the existing team”.

Though Professor Aston appears with the new recruits in the current series, he will not join the 20th series, which starts filming in April.

“Whatever happened, we’d all thought, we’ll complete the 20th series. It feels very sad that I shan’t do that. I’m not proud of Time Team, it hasn’t worked,” Prof Aston added.

He compared the reshuffle at Time Team to the changes at the BBC’s Countryfile in 2008, which introduced younger presenters and, he said, reduced it to “cliché-ridden pap”.

Miss Ochota, 30, holds a master’s degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University and has previously done modelling work, including shoots for Special K.

You can find Tim Taylor’s response to the announcement here: http://www.scribd.com/tim_darch/d/80914164-Tim-Taylor-Statement-regarding-Mick-Aston

National Archaeology Day Celebrations

22 October 2011- The Archaeological Institute of America and several leading archaeological organizations are hosting events in over 100 cities across the United States and Canada for people of all ages and interests as part of the first annual National Archaeology Day on October 22.

Whether it is a family-friendly archaeology fair, a guided tour of a local archaeological site, a simulated dig, a lecture, or a classroom visit from an archaeologist, interactive, hands-on programs will provide visitors with the chance to indulge their inner Indiana Jones.

Each year thousands of people learn about the latest archaeological discoveries and share in the excitement of uncovering and rewriting history through various AIA outreach activities, publications, and websites. National Archaeology Day is a chance for archaeology enthusiasts to celebrate these discoveries and it is an opportunity for archaeological organizations to promote resources and events to ensure that people stay informed and connected throughout the year

The AIA, a nonprofit group founded in 1879, is North America’s oldest and largest organization devoted to the world of archaeology. It has nearly 250,000 members from all walks of life, and this diverse group is united by a shared passion for archaeology and its role in furthering human knowledge.

Check out the calendar of events (http://www.archaeological.org/NAD/events) to find a program near you and keep an eye on our blog to learn about new developments and for special updates in anticipation of this exciting event. For more information you can visit the AIA website at www.archaeological.org, or contact the AIA at 617-353-9361 or educationassistant@aia.bu.edu.

Lewis Roberts Binford 1930 – 2011

I am saddened to say that Professor Lewis Binford, the father of ‘New Archaeology’ and a man whom every archaeologist has cited at least once in their life, has passed away.

Lewis Roberts Binford was born on 21 November, 1930.  He graduated from the University of North Carolina (Bachelors), and the University of Michigan (Masters and PhD).

Lewis Binford was a pioneer in the ‘New Archaeology’ movement of the 1960s.  His vision for a scientific approach to archaeology led the discipline away from the cataloguing of cultural histories to the use of scientific methods aimed at explaining cultural processes and site formation processes. Binford’s academic career was based at the University of New Mexico and subsequently at Southern Methodist University.  He was an inspiring, committed researcher and a kind and generous teacher.  Just as we were intellectually enriched by his existence, so we are intellectually poorer through his passing.  He was was one of archaeology’s great minds.

Professor Binford is survived by his daughter, Martha, and his wife and co-researcher, Amber Johnson.

Over the last 50 years he produced over 150 publications, many of which became seminal papers in archaeological theory and method. His most influential publications span more than four decades, and include:

  • 1962 Archaeology as Anthropology
  • 1968 New Perspectives in Archaeology. Co-edited with S.R. Binford, Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago.
  • 1978 Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology. Academic Press, New York.
  • 1981 Bones: Ancient Men & Modern Myths. Academic Press, London.
  • 1983 In Pursuit of the Past. Thames and Hudson, London.
  • 1989 Debating Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.
  • 2001 Constructing Frames of Reference: an analytical method for archaeological theory building using ethnographic and environmental data sets. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • 2004 Ethnographically Documented Hunter-Gatherer Peoples: A Baseline for the Study of the Past. Princeton UP, Princeton.

Lewis Roberts Binford 1930 – 2011

I am saddened to say that Professor Lewis Binford, the father of ‘New Archaeology’ and a man whom every archaeologist has cited at least once in their life, has passed away.

Lewis Roberts Binford was born on 21 November, 1930.  He graduated from the University of North Carolina (Bachelors), and the University of Michigan (Masters and PhD).

Lewis Binford was a pioneer in the ‘New Archaeology’ movement of the 1960s.  His vision for a scientific approach to archaeology led the discipline away from the cataloguing of cultural histories to the use of scientific methods aimed at explaining cultural processes and site formation processes. Binford’s academic career was based at the University of New Mexico and subsequently at Southern Methodist University.  He was an inspiring, committed researcher and a kind and generous teacher.  Just as we were intellectually enriched by his existence, so we are intellectually poorer through his passing.  He was was one of archaeology’s great minds.

Professor Binford is survived by his daughter, Martha, and his wife and co-researcher, Amber Johnson.

Over the last 50 years he produced over 150 publications, many of which became seminal papers in archaeological theory and method. His most influential publications span more than four decades, and include:

  • 1962 Archaeology as Anthropology
  • 1968 New Perspectives in Archaeology. Co-edited with S.R. Binford, Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago.
  • 1978 Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology. Academic Press, New York.
  • 1981 Bones: Ancient Men & Modern Myths. Academic Press, London.
  • 1983 In Pursuit of the Past. Thames and Hudson, London.
  • 1989 Debating Archaeology. Academic Press, New York.
  • 2001 Constructing Frames of Reference: an analytical method for archaeological theory building using ethnographic and environmental data sets. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  • 2004 Ethnographically Documented Hunter-Gatherer Peoples: A Baseline for the Study of the Past. Princeton UP, Princeton.

 

 

Various historical programs in NNY receive much needed funding

It’s always good to see historical projects within my community succeed.  With the State of New York slashing budgets and funding left and right, I applaud the Northern New York Community Fund for their efforts to ensure that struggling historical programs within Jefferson County continue to operate successfully.

At their quarterly meeting Tuesday, the Northern New York Community Foundation Board of Directors approved grants totaling over $28,000 to local organizations.

Grants approved were:

  • Dexter Historical Society – $10,000 matching grant to assist with critical repairs to their building.
  • Historical Association of South Jefferson – $10,000 to help with repairs to the roof of the Ripley House Museum, Adams.
  • Railway Historical Society of Northern New York – $5,000 towards the restoration of their building in Croghan.
  • South Jefferson Central School District – $3,000 to complete a photograph archival project which will make hundreds of historical images available to two school districts, seven libraries and three historical societies. This is made possible through a Foundation fund provided by the Herring College Memorial Trust.

Various historical programs in NNY receive much needed funding

It’s always good to see historical projects within my community succeed.  With the State of New York slashing budgets and funding left and right, I applaud the Northern New York Community Fund for their efforts to ensure that struggling historical programs within Jefferson County continue to operate successfully.

At their quarterly meeting Tuesday, the Northern New York Community Foundation Board of Directors approved grants totaling over $28,000 to local organizations.

Grants approved were:

  • Dexter Historical Society – $10,000 matching grant to assist with critical repairs to their building.
  • Historical Association of South Jefferson – $10,000 to help with repairs to the roof of the Ripley House Museum, Adams.
  • Railway Historical Society of Northern New York – $5,000 towards the restoration of their building in Croghan.
  • South Jefferson Central School District – $3,000 to complete a photograph archival project which will make hundreds of historical images available to two school districts, seven libraries and three historical societies. This is made possible through a Foundation fund provided by the Herring College Memorial Trust.