Episode 24 “The Mother of All Archaeology Podcasts”


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HEY! It’s me, Jenny, and I’m back baby! It’s time for episode 24 of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty, and this one is the MOTHER of all archaeology podcasts.

I can say that because I gave birth in the middle of this podcast. You’ll have to listen to it to find out exactly how that went down, but I promise you it was pretty exciting. SO, where have I been for the last oh, I don’t know, 6 months??? Really really pregnant for 3 of them and trying to clean spit-up out of my clothes and hair for the other 3. Having a baby is hard work, and so while my attention has been elsewhere for a while I have been continuing to keep up with the archaeology world at large and thinking of lots of great podcasts to bring you in 2016.

This podcast continues on the theme of pregnancy/childbirth that I started last episode. But this time I’m tackling pregnancy within the field, as a struggling and very pregnant rchaeologist. For those of you who wonder about whether you can start a family while working, or worry about how you will be treated as a big old preggo in the field- tune in to hear all about my personal experience during this past year.

Then it’s time to review two of the biggest news stories in archaeology during 2015: is there a hidden chamber in King Tut’s tomb? And what’s up with this new hominin Homo naledi?

To read more on the Homo naledi discovery click here and here! To read more on King Tut’s tomb click here! Also, don’t forget to check out this and other great archaeology podcasts on the Archaeology Podcast Network!

I would write more, but there’s a baby gnawing on my left hand and typing is kind of difficult. #mommyproblems

Here’s a picture of me in the field at 7 months pregnant, and the adorable archaeobaby that has stolen my heart… and time and energy.









Cheers, McNiven out!



Episode 20 “What’s Next?”


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Welcome back! It’s Episode 20 of The Struggling Archaeologist’s Guide to Getting Dirty, “What’s Next?”

So, I thought I’d catch you up on recent events relating to grad school and my career(Spoiler: I’m graduating, yay me!). That turned into the perfect opportunity for me to dispense some sagely advice about going out into the job market and figuring out what to do after school. If you’re looking for some great sources to look for jobs or learn about how to get jobs, I suggest you check out some of the sources I listed in the podcast, such as-

There are lots of great resources out there if you need some guidance, and many great archaeology blogs that cover these types of topics. But remember to take advantage of the people you know (ooh, that sounded weirder than I meant), and ask for advice!

This episode also features another segment of “Back to Basics with Jenny!” This time, I wanted to do an Anthro 101 Introduction to Human Origins review. If you’ve taken a bioanthropology course you will have probably heard all of this, so if it’s repetitive I apologize, but I wanted to include it so that listeners who haven’t explored these kinds of topics could learn more about it. You’ll hear about primate evolution, scientific dating methods, paleoanthropology, and genetics. So, you know, totally easy to understand non-scientific type stuff 😉 Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions, I’m not a bio or a paleo specialist, but I really enjoyed studying evolutionary theory so I love talking about it.

Don’t forget that the Archaeology Podcast Network is now up and running, so go on over to the website to check out all of the fun-times shows going up this month. And as always, follow me on twitter, tumblr, and facebook.

Peace Out my Nerds!



Asteroid Impact 3.26 billion years ago Dwarfs the Dino-Slayer

Big News Everyone! (literally) Throw out all of your YA dystopian fictions kids, they don’t have anything on a new earth shattering event that is being brought to light for the first time!

Scientists at Stanford University have announced new evidence for a massive asteroid collision occurring in earth’s formative years, a mere 3.26 billion years ago, when our planet was just a wee babe. Not that it wasn’t accustomed to being beaten up at the playground. This was a time when the earth and other planets in our solar system were constantly under fire from asteroids and the remains of planetary materials called “planetismals” (I promise I did not make that word up). It was this kind of activity that lead to the formation of the moon around 4 billion years ago, and is referred to today as the period of late, heavy bombardment. Didn’t know our planet was so badass did you?

Since that period there have been several mass extinction events on earth caused by asteroid impacts, the most famous of all being the one and only “Dino-Slayer” of 65 million years ago. The cretaceous-paleogene extinction event (or K-Pg event) lead to the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs and paved the way for the rise of the mammals (i.e. US!). Most scientists believe the K-Pg event was the result of the epically disastrous impact of the Chicxulub asteroid, which measured over 6 miles in diameter and left a crater in the Yucatan Peninsula over 100 miles wide. So, you know, freaking huge.




Yeah, that’s it. Pretty big right?

Well, the forthcoming evidence of this new nightmare scenario asteroid suggests that it was somewhere between 23 and 36 miles wide, leaving a crater of over 300 miles. So, basically like this…




The only problem… this crater doesn’t really exist anymore and we don’t really know where it is. Why, you ask? Well, impacts like this one happened so long ago that processes of erosion and tectonic movement have changed the earth’s surface so much that the craters aren’t evident anymore. Eh, small beans to fancy geologists. They know how to read the signs of major asteroid impacts on land formations that are still around. In this case the authors of the new study, Norman H. Sleep and Donald R. Lowe, discovered the scars of an ancient asteroid impact on a land formation in South Africa known as the Barberton greenstone belt.

The Barberton belt is known for having some of world’s oldest rocks. Besides the tell-tale fractures left on its crust, it contains minuscule spherules of vaporized rock from the impact, and concentrations of an element often found in asteroids called iridium. The study indicates that the actual impact zone was likely thousands of miles away in an ocean basin, though the evidence at Barberton suggests that the event could have permanently altered the tectonic plates- perhaps putting into motion the tectonic system that we have today.

So what does this mean about the asteroid’s impact on earth? Well, basically conjure up every doomsday scenario you can imagine and that may come close to being about half as bad as this was….

“What he means is Old Testament Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff…”

Oceans boiling? Check. Megatsunamis? Check. Planet wide earthquakes? Check. Burning hot air? Check. Ash and dust filling the atmosphere and blocking out the sun? Check. Dogs and cats living together? HA! Got you there, not really a lot of complex life on the planet yet. But does that mean the asteroid didn’t have an impact on the evolution of life on earth? No way, it’s likely that there was mass extinction of many microscopic organisms on the planet. Which was probably highly influential in the direction of our ancestor’s evolution. Just imagine what kinds of life would have evolved had such a large selective act NOT happened? Probably a bunch of riffraff…

So there you have it, some new insight into earth’s childhood. Maybe you’ll show a little more respect now that you know what it’s been through the last 4.5 billion years!

Check out the original American Geophysical Union press release for the whole story, and thanks for the images AGU!