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Showing posts from January, 2013

10K Today!

Just want to say thanks to everyone who's checked out the blog so far, it just pipped 10,000 hits today. Hope you're enjoying the mix of Neanderthals, photography, archaeology and sciencey goodness!

More on postdoc life will be coming over the next few months as the start date for my Marie Curie Fellowship at Universite Bordeaux 1 gets closer, and I can start preparing to move out to France. Exciting times, hope you all stay for the ride.

India: Mammals

Here's a selection of photographs showing some of the wonderful mammalian wildlife we saw. There will, naturally, be a separate post devoted to BIRDS (and also some reptiles, amphibians and insects), but for now here's a sample of the richness South India offers to nature lovers.

India: Friendly Faces

Something unexpected but wonderful about travelling in India, or certainly the southern regions, was the genuine interest shown in my mother and me as tourists. For the vast majority of the trip, we were the only Westerners we saw, even at very famous historical sites filled with Indian tourists. It was also interesting that the local people, certainly the women, mainly wore Indian-style clothing rather than western outfits; one of our guides pointed out a school trip of North Indian teenagers at a site in Mysore, and after 3 weeks of saris and salwar suits it was quite strange to see so many jeans and t-shirts.

5th-8th Century Badami Cave Temples, Karnataka

Something to warm everyone currently shivering in wintery conditions in the northern hemisphere!
This is a photographic tour of the Badami Cave Temple complex in Karnataka, South India which I visited in November 2012. They are a series of rock-temples rising up the side of a sandstone escarpment, which looks out onto a valley and tank with another temple complex around the water's edge.
Probably my favourite of the historic sites we visited for the incredible aesthetics not only the of architecture, but also the landscape setting: this is my perfect idea of romantic India: ancient temples, setting sun, sandy cliffs with macaques perched on them...

Beyond the Science at Unravelling Human Origins 2013: gender, social media and outreach

Despite feeling like we were falling back into a glacial epoch during days of plummeting temperature and cutting winds peppered with snow, the Unravelling Human Origins 2013 meeting in Cambridge was a hotspot of scientific energy and excitement.
As always, there wasn't enough time to speak to everyone, and this year I found it especially hard to get round to seeing all the posters, some of which looked fantastic. But I did sit in on almost all the presented papers, and I'll be summarising some here on the blog. I'll do a Neanderthal edition separately as for ESHE, and another post featuring other papers that particularly caught my attention.
  As you might have read in the previous post, I needed a serious Research Mojo top-up from this conference, which I got in spades. Not only did I re-connect with many old colleagues and friends, hearing about their new work and plans, but I also made links with people I've wanted to meet (including Twitter friends) and with …

Conference season 2013... research, networking and recharging my mojo

The next few weeks will feature two big UK Palaeolithic archaeology conferences that I'll be attending, although not as a speaker this time- being between projects means I've not got any new data to talk about right now, although I'm busy writing things up for publication. However I will be putting up conference reports here, including of course a "Neanderthal Edition" for all the best bits!

India: Medieval Hoysala Archaeology of Belur and Halebid

Of all the different historic sites we visited in India, the Hoysala temple complexes at Belur and Halebid were probably the most jaw-dropping. We'd already seen elegant Islamic tombs and highly decorated mosques in northern Karnataka, serene rock-cut Hindu and Jain cave temples at Badami and a crazy Muslim-Hindu-Buddhist fusion in the 16th century sacred city of Vijayanagara (Hampi), set in stark granite surroundings.

But the Hoysala sites encapsulated my imagined ideas of almost fractal levels of detail in classic Hindu architecture. We visited Belur first, and then Halebid, which was the right order as the second managed to surpass the first in astonishing carving and stonework.

Following are highlights of these two fantastic sites.

The temple complex of Chennakesava at Belur is 12th century. The temple here is not yet classic Hoysala architecture, as typified at Halebid in the intensity of decoration, but it is still incredibly impressive in the amount of carving, and e…