Episode 5 “I See Dead People”


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Welcome to Episode 5 of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty, “I See Dead People!”

And boy do I ever, well, at least while researching for this episode! I tried but I just couldn’t avoid more mention of mummies, but I think after our discussion of archaeological execution sites and bog bodies you won’t mind a boring old mummy or two!

The discovery of a pit full of 14th century German execution victims is why today is all about death, so I felt it necessary to delve into the world of bog bodies as well- since who doesn’t love those, am I right?! Don’t worry, in today’s shorty news I figured I should talk about something full of sunshine and rainbows to make up for the macabre first act of the podcast- so I briefly consider the merits of space archaeology…. yes, space archaeology.

Oh yeah, and if you were planning on doing a field school this summer you should get your booty on it asap! Check out shovelbums.com, archaeologyfieldwork.com, about.com, archaeological.org, digs.bib-arch.org and other similar such sites for field work opportunities around the world for this summer!

And for your viewing pleasure here are some pictures of well known bog bodies and a naturally preserved Incan mummy… and please show them some respect and don’t go posting them on your facebook page!


Tollund Man – 4th century BCE, Denmark








Courtesy of Sven Rosborn





Tollund man —> the rope that was used to kill him is still around his neck!









“Red Franz”- 3-5th century CE, Germany

  <—- Throat was sliced and stabbed in shoulder, hair turned red from bog acids




Courtesy of Robert Clark



Sergeant Boris Lazarev- Russia, 1943 —>









Incan child-Chris Openshaw

<—- Incan child sacrifice,  16th century CE, Chile







Courtesy of Chris Openshaw

German execution remains- Ben Behnke (Der Spiegel)


Remains from the Alkersleben execution victims –>






That it folks, check us out on iTunes and these other awesome sites!

Here >  http://stitcher.com/s?fid=33466&refid=stpr  on Stitcher

and Here > http://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail?pid=158110 on PodBean

and Here > http://archaeology.alltop.com/ on Alltop




Episode 4 “Little Baby Jesus!”


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Welcome back for Episode 4 of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty “Little Baby Jesus!”

This week there’s some crazy business going on with a newly translated apocryphal text that was definitely not written by St. Cyril or based on anything resembling reality- but is cute all the same because it alleges that Jesus had super powers (aside from raising the dead and healing lepers and all that) and was best buds with the man that everybody loves to hate- Pontius Pilate! But seriously, the study of texts written in the first millennium after Jesus’ death about his life and early Christianity is little known to the public (unless they made the final cut into the Bible canon). So every text gives us an opportunity to learn more about the evolution of Christian beliefs and practices during its first couple of centuries, when it was extremely varied across the Old World, Middle East, and Northern Africa. I may also throw some knowledge out there about the influence of some other apocryphal numbers such as the Syriac Infancy Gospel- in which Jesus’ diaper does his dirty work (literally) and his circumcision creates one heck of a relic. No offense if I sound less than respectful, believe me- some of this stuff gives amazing insight into humanity and spirituality in the 1st millennium- but some of these texts are just bizarre, so let’s just say there’s a reason they aren’t included in the Bible…

And if you’re interested in what a 9th century treatise on Jesus’ super powers looks like here’s some shots of the manuscript from the JP Morgan Library.
Pseudo-Cyril apocryphal text  coptic-homily-1-660x433-picture-130313


Today’s Shorty News consisted of a story where I marvel at the discovery of a new strain of human Y chromosomes which doesn’t seem to have shared a common ancestor with most of the rest of humanity for 338,000 years! WOW.

The rest of the show is about a project that I worked on a couple years back in Texas which has recently become part of a new book called The Toyah Phase of Central Texas: Late Prehistoric Economic and Social Processes, edited by Nancy A. Kenmotsu and Douglas Boyd. There’s some stuff about hunter-gatherers, my personal thoughts on this newly published research, and then I talk about snails for a while. Yup, Snails.

Here I am taking a stroll down in the South Texas bush while excavating a Toyah site…

Field School 2009 065







I told you I lived in a tent and worked out of a wooden shack!

Field School 2009 018Field School 2009 019

And you thought I was lying about the tarp shower and the cow… shame on you 🙁
Field School 2009 022Field School 2009 078

Well that about does it for Episode 4, have a listen and enjoy yourself. Oh, and for those of you who were anticipating pictures of my privy excavation- this is the best I can do right now, maybe a nice picture of me sitting in a test unit will  brighten your day!


(Look at the dark stain beginning to show throughout this test unit, this was the top layer of the privy “deposit.” Very rich organic material creates dark soil. So, at this depth, when all the soil around it has had most of the organic material leached out of it there remains a very clear intrusion which was made out of some seriously organic stuff. With all of the other evidence we collected from excavating this unit, it became clear that what that stuff was… did I mention it smelled like nothing you could imagine! I’m probably smiling because the fumes were making me loopy!)

Enjoy the show folks, and now you can also find us:

Here >  http://stitcher.com/s?fid=33466&refid=stpr  on Stitcher

and Here > http://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail?pid=158110 on PodBean

and Here > http://archaeology.alltop.com/ on Alltop

McNiven OUT!