Ye Olde Linoleum Shoppe

Tuesday 20 March 2012


The following blog concerns theoretical archaeology and aerobics - therefore:
(a) it makes no sense,
(b) it contains at least one image of someone disappearing up their own bum.

As we all know, every generation of archaeologist has embraced a unique way of keeping their tickers ticketty-boo. Keeping fit has always been the name of the game - I remember well the exercise regime we espoused during the blue-ribbon yesterdays of Culture-Historical archaeology, it involved myself and my chums filling our Webley and Scott revolvers up to the gunwales with bullets and blasting the living shit out of any cattle who had a problem with our normative model of culture (which was all of them.) Then as twilight approached we hightailed it inside a stately home and ravished a Duchess - or Duke - depending on how many cows we had plugged that day.
It was sheer heaven . . .
Then, one fateful Sunday, we shot a Bishop for a laugh and all our weapons were confiscated, after that all the fun went out of our exercise . . . so I drifted off and in 1970 joined a 'New Archaeology', Processual basketball group. . .
Truth be told I found it very unusual. These people had rules, they had guidelines and  they demanded data every time a ball went through a hoop. Rather dull really, AND there was a bit too much nudity in the dressing room afterwards for my liking . . .  AND, to cap it all, when I suggested we all wander out and find a stately home they accused me of being obsessed with diffusion. I assured them all I had on my mind was 'bumping uglies' but they wouldn't listen . . .
So in the 1980s I moved on and joined a Post-Processual Yoga group where I was advised to attend wearing only a sackcloth. Which I did, despite the bedamnable draughts. The lesson began with our instuctor (although he claimed he was an instructuralist) telling us to adopt the 'desk-based academic' pose. That was reasonably easy (fig.1) - the fingers extended as if typing, the eyes staring blankly towards a dilated pension.
After that the game was afoot and we tried out the 'mumbo jumbo' pose (fig. 2) -head inverted so our words came out backwards and meaningless, the hands dangling, evincing nothing.
At this point our instructor ordered us into the 'humanocentric' posture (fig. 3). I have to admit my back did a wobbler and this led to the instructor furiously accusing me of rank subjectivity.
Finally, with the aid of a dollop of snake-oil, we adopted the 'suspension of disbelief' pose (fig.4). In this dark fragrant position foregrounded cosmologies danced before my eyes as I became one with myself and the universe, everything seemed possible as the Gods of materialities swam before my eyes and questioned what I was seeking . .
 . . . and I answered . . .
'My old Webley revolvers, a dozen sacred cows and a Duchess please.'
Yoga my arse!

So there you have it. To summarise my thesis, I suppose the Culture-Historical school of archaeology had guns and fun, the Processualists were a bit dull (but at least they had balls) and the Post-Processualists? ahem . . . I refer you to fig.4 again (now I can sit back and enjoy the death threats rolling in.)

Allow me to stitch a final 'experimental' cartoon into the fine tapestry of this blog:
Until next week my liver spotted quadrillions!


  1. Are you suggesting that making up a cosmology or belief system is not the best way of explaining archaeology you don't understand?
    It seems entirely proper, and very efficient, that public money should be paid to people to interpret archaeology by inventing religions to explain it.
    After all, Creationism is easier to understand than biology, and requires only one book, proper research is time consuming and expensive, and only leads to more questions.

  2. Careful of your words Mr. Carter, you'll see us all flung in prison for this.

  3. McHale you have stepped over the line. Write to your nearest if you have any and i wont say dearest as surely as eggs is eggs. I'm rounding up a possee and you will feel tar and feather.

    And you Carter, for linking creationism with post-processualism - you too will get yours

    1. Anon;
      I did not link Creationism and post-processualism; The former is ancient belief system dating back to the Neolithic, while the later is an intellectual cult that seeks to interpret archaeological features by projecting beliefs into the minds of people in the Neolithic. One is a religion, the other is archaeo-necromancy.

      However, what with the cost of fuel being so high, and the recession and all, being ritually burnt in a wicker man by the well paid priests of this new age cult, is not without its attractions, as an afternoon out; I [or we, Conor?] could be the first martyrs to evidence based archaeology.

  4. Before you get started with the tar and feathers let me climb out of this rubber catsuit.

  5. Its no use i cant stop myself......
    What makes you think that Creationism dates back to the Neolithic and why are you confusing projection with hyperbole?
    And is so-called evidenced based archaeology anything more than really boring guesswork?

    1. No need to apologise, please keep going. Just turn the light out when you're finished.

    2. 1. Studies of the Bible in relation to Mesopotamian myths such Atrahasis and Gilgamesh.
      2. Evidence based guesswork like radio-carbon dates, oxygen isotope analysis. My practice is based on measuring boring things like postholes. 3 'Understanding' the Neolithic through the perceptions and beliefs of the ancestors, is projection of contemporary ideas onto the minds of the dead. [Who are in no position to defend themselves].

  6. So you have probably confused origins with recording in 1 and 2 but in 3 you are describing interpretation - which probably explains why you measure postholes for practice!

  7. I measure and study what I find, and I find a lot of building foundations, which is a technology I seek to understand.
    Post-processualists are experts in the things I don't find.
    I withdraw any statements about all other beliefs systems, God, Gods, and creations, both real and imagined, unreservedly.

  8. I have to allow for people who might want to worship Gravity or Uncertainty, for example

  9. These are really funny. I love your cartoons! Please can I use the one with the two bearded processualists on my blog? With full acknowledgements, of course.

    My blog is You will find it very dull.

    Thank you!


    1. No problem Victoria, please do use the bearded processualists!



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I am a descended from a long line of conga dancers. I occasionally wear shoes. I gave up going to the toilet twenty years ago - it's a filthy habit. I have a pet bunny called Mucky - he's a filthy rabbit.