Archaeology, Archaeology Experimental, Archaeology Teaching

Quick Update: Furnace Building and Teaching Thoughts

I’m just back from a week in Cornwall doing some ‘hobby foundry’ work. The aim of the week was to build a functional charcoal-fuelled furnace and cast some small objects in brass. Calling it ‘experimental archaeology‘ would be a bit false, considering we used a iron tuyure pipe, a brick-built furnace and a hoover, but I did gain a few useful insights into archaeological processes and a massive amount of practical experience. Frankly, it was also a hell of a lot of fun.

I’m particularly pleased to say that despite running the furnace at well over 1000C and handling multiple crucibles full of melted brass, no one was injured and we didn’t get one single burn – unless you count my significant other burning his tongue on a hot cup of tea!

I shall be writing up the experience and posting some photos and videos (courtesy of a friend) hopefully in the near future. For now a few images of the moulds and castings can be seen here; hopefully I’ll be adding more in the future.

Unfortunately the coming week is likely to be swallowed by preparing my teaching portfolio for submission to the Higher Education Authority for the ‘Associate’ status, and next week is going to be heavily dominated by a smithing course we’re going to in Glastonbury (I figure other archaeologists go on excavation – I go and learn practical metallurgy!). But I will be frantically scribbling down notes on what we got up to, and look forward to sharing all the beautiful pictures of glowing crucibles and furnaces!

However I’m very pleased to say I have a blog post for Grad Hacker coming up soon. It basically sprang out of my informal ‘TA’s Thoughts’ series, where I’ve been discussing issues that have resulted from my recent two TA positions (i.e. 7 common mistakes that bug your marker, Undergrad group presentations, and Teaching ‘gender’ in Roman archaeology). I’m very happy to be able to contribute to Grad Hacker, which is shaping up to be a really interesting collaborative blog site by current and post-grad students and happens to be run by rather cool people. Check them out!

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