Interview: what does bear dung have in common with a dead blackbird? They're both to be found in Dr Hannah Russ' bag!
Good afternoon Hannah ... I'm afraid you've been nominated for an interview for our illustrious blog.
Oh no, I don't like interviews. Last time I did an interview it was recorded. I'd assumed he'd transcribe and edit it, but he just put the recording straight onto the web. I sounded like a right idiot.
Excellent, this should be fun then. You're here as part of the archaeozoology field school - what have you been doing with the students this week?
Well, we've been in the lab until Wednesday, learning how to identify animal bones from whole modern examples from the reference collection. On Thursday we were here, and I taught them the basics of identifying fish bones and shell, which we then applied to finds from manor lodge, and we also spent time identifying archaeological animal bones, using what we learnt in the lab. Then today we've been digging in an area with a lot of animal bone, and I've been offering my ... expert opinion!
As a specialist in marine archaeozoology, have you developed too much of an empathy with fish to eat them?
No, no. I eat fish to build up my reference collection!
Crafty. Do you have any gruesome stories for us about collecting dead wildlife for reference collections?
Well, I did once have to carry half of a decomposing seal that I found on a beach in the Shetlands two miles in a polyester tray to bury it.
Yeah, that's pretty bad.
And then there's the dead blackbird incident.
Well, I was waiting at the station to take a train, and I spotted a dead blackbird on the platform. Without thinking, I took out my lunch bag, removed my lunch from it, put the blackbird in the bag, and put the bag back into my satchel ... then I looked up and noticed everyone was starring at me! It gets worse. When I was on the train, I decided that maybe it wasn't dead, so I started hitting my bag to try and finish it off. I was worried it might fly out of my bag and people would think I was even weirder!
Maybe they'd just assume you were a magician.
I had to collect bear poo one time as well. I wanted to get some wild poo from Canada, but it turns out it's illegal to post poo, so I had to go and collect it from a zoo and carry it back on the train.
At least the smell should have finished off the blackbird ...
Oh! And then there was the time that I got hospitalised whilst de-fleshing a sheep!
We were de-fleshing it so that we could make tools out of the bones, and during the process some of the gooey stuff flew up and splashed me in the face. I thought nothing of it, until I got on the bus the next day to go on a field trip to Hadrian's wall, at which point it ... became apparent that I had food poisoning. So I got to see all the bathrooms of Hadrian's wall! Then when I got back I went to hospital.
How long were you there for?
Three days! I had campylobacteriosis.
Wow, dangerous job. To close on a lighter note, if you could study the bones of any animal in the world, what would you chose?
The narwhal! A museum that was getting rid of their collection donated animal bones to the university recently. They said they had a narwhal tusk, which I was really excited to see ... but it turned out just to be a stalactite!
Massively unfortunate. Thanks for sharing your stories with us Hannah!
Trench update! Trench 19
Trench 19 has been throwing up a huge number of finds, including large amounts of mortar, saggar fragments, animal bone, and:
|A coin from 1891|
|Tessellating tile fragments with a 'P' inscription|
|Find of the day: A(n almost certainly) wooden and metal handle|
|Salty Huw was peddling his fish and chips...|
|... with aggressive advertising ...|
Meanwhile, cake-maestro Katie prepared:
And finally, Simon says, "goodbye!"