Digital Data, Publishing, and 3D

On my flights to Denver to attend the ASOR meetings, I had a chance to read the latest special issue from the Journal of Field Archaeology titled “Web-based Infrastructure As a Collaborative Framework Across Archaeological Fieldwork, Lab work, and Analysis.” The articles represented a broad sampling of recent trends in digital practice in archaeology from the trowels edge to the final publication. Of particular note was Rachel Opitz’s “Publishing Archaeological Excavations at the Digital Turn” which described the complex thought processes involved in publishing A Mid-Republican House from Gabii, which may well represent a watershed moment in the publication of digital monographs in archaeology. Various other articles consider the role of international web-based archives or publications of data in managing heritage and disseminating information at a regional or global scale and recent work developing the latest generation of 3D imaging tools in archaeological practice. The editorial introduction pulls together these contributions and offers a lightly sketched “state of the field.”

There were four things that leapt out at me from this little collection:

1. Fragmentation. One of the most intriguing things about these articles is that they all generally acknowledge the fragmentation of data, and archaeological knowledge. In some cases these data are fragmented across tables which contain fields that describe archaeological objects or archaeologist’s encounters with them, in other cases data is affixed to digital objects like the triangles that constitute the facets of 3D polygons. The goals of this fragmentation varies in detail, but generally seeks to preserve specificity through granularity. The granular bits of data can be reassembled in various ways to either represent spatial relationships or to allow a reader or researcher to link two pieces of related information either within a dataset or across various datasets. In short, the process of fragmentation is an initial step in simulating the fluidity of information in our minds as we lean on our physical memories to ground our analytical and interpretative processes that draw upon a wide range of observations to draw conclusions and make observations. At the same time, the structures inherent in how the data is encoded offer ways to bring together various points into new combinations that may have not be readily apparent to any single member of the project, moment in time, or perspective.

2. Collaboration. The fragmentation of data is the first step to sharing data. As archaeological information is rendered in more granular ways, it becomes easier to move between users and projects. Part of this process typically involves standardizing complex data sets at the level of individual digital objects. While archaeology has always worked to standardize information through the advocacy of consistent methods to the construction of typologies, the use of standardizing tools (like GPS coordinates or Munsell books), and the ubiquitous rhetoric of best practices. Creating data sets that can be shared across projects, of course, has always been a goal of archaeology because dissemination of archaeological knowledge has always represented one of the key outcomes of archaeological work. Whether through standard practices associated with field reports or the conventions of the catalogue and the map, archaeology has always looked toward certain degrees of standardization to facilitate the communication of their results.  Linked open data standards and various other ways of standardizing data has pushed to the foreground the goals of producing data that can be reused at the same scale (and perhaps in similar ways) as less granular information presented in traditional publication. In other words, we’re talking citations. How do we ensure that data is presented in a way that encourages citation.   

3. International. This is rather mundane observation, but it has fascinated me a good bit: the increasingly international character of archaeological knowledge sharing. Historically, archaeology has had a national (if not nationalistic) cast to it. Even today, archaeological and heritage management is a matter defined by national, regional, or even local boundaries. On the one hand, then, archaeologists have a strong commitment to ideas of provenience, repatriation, and indigenous knowledge. On the other hand, digital practices are increasingly transnational in character as the movement of data, archaeological knowledge, and methods across national boundaries has become a standard practice in archaeological work. Facilitating the movement of information across boundaries, however, has become fraught with the continued power of national interests which is only heightened in the case of digital imaging, for example, which has the potential to produce in digital form artifacts that are as – or even more – real than the originals. The tension, then, between national and global cut through the use of digital tools, the ability to collaborate, the portability of fragments, and the opportunities to undermine both national borders and nationalism in archaeological work while still respecting provenience and local knowledge.

4. Publication. All this work on the digital realm has a direct impact on what we consider archaeological publication. 30 years ago, we might be satisfied if a project produced a preliminary report and a final report (preferably bound and covered in some drab color and published by a respected press). Today, publication is a continuous process that begins with data produced in the survey unit or the trench and continues through to various iterations of the final product. Linking this increasingly diverse and dense web of published results together has become the foundation for a wide range of innovative approaches to disseminating archaeological work. I was particularly interested in the approaches taken to move between highly granular data and more integrative forms of narrative that tend to resist the pressures of fragmentation. As Rachel Opitz pointed out in her useful contribution, it is easier to move from narrative to data than from data to particular points in the narrative. I think this distinction tells us something about how we think as archaeologists and should be useful reminder that fragmentation, collaboration, and globalization in archaeological remains incommensurate with certain traditional practices that remain very close to the core, modern, nature of the discipline.  

A Couple of Thoughts on the ASOR Annual Meeting

Institutions, particularly academic institutions, are slow to change. In most cases, this is a good thing. After all, universities and colleges are responsible for both their existing programs and students, and the degrees conferred to past students, the often long careers of faculty and staff, and the gifts of donors, loyalty of alumni, and responsibilities to communities. Professional organizations like the ASOR, or the American Schools of Oriental Research, are also prone to incremental changes rather than quick pivots and abrupt reorientations and tend to see the historical legacy of their organization on equal footing with its current relevance. Generally speaking, the organization of these institutions makes change difficult as well with complex bylaws, multiple committees, and various checks that prevent decision-making without general consensus. 

While in many ways the reluctance to change quickly is a good thing. For example, many academic organizations rely on a diverse portfolio of stakeholders for funding and lack a robust financial safety net. A misstep could lead not simply to a dilution of their historic mission, but to real financial and existential problems.

There were two big decisions that took center stage at the ASOR annual meeting. First, we continue to discuss the long-term relationship with the Society of Biblical Literature meeting which generally overlaps with ASOR and occurs in the same city. Since the American Academy of Religion annual meeting now also coincides with SBL and ASOR, it has become difficult for ASOR to find suitable accommodations in the same city. As a result, ASOR has to decide whether it needs to change when and where it holds its meetings. There are real practical implications to this since about a fifth of ASOR members also are SBL members and participate in both meetings.

This also has opened a conversation about how to make the meetings more accommodating to graduate students, contingent faculty, avocational scholars, and recent Ph.Ds who often have fewer resources and time to attend meetings. The cost of airfare, for example, was a concern especially if ASOR moved to a “second tier” city. At the same time, the cost and quality of accommodations were a concern in cities that tend to be airport hubs. Some fretted also about having to pick between ASOR and SBL and about the impact on the range and quality of papers at both conferences if they were to go their separate ways. 

While this might appear to be a largely practical matter of cost and convenience, it also has an intellectual component. Over the past 20 years, ASOR has changed and come to embrace more than the archaeology of the Levant and “Biblical” concerns, periods, and problems. A divorce from SBL would likely continue, if not accelerate, this trend and contribute to the ongoing transformation of ASOR members, its conference, and publications.

The other major conversation at the conference was about ASOR’s name: the American Schools of Oriental Research. They hosted a workshop on this topic at their annual meeting, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend. Fortunately, the issue was a constant topic of conversation throughout the meeting. The context for this name change is that the term “Oriental” is closely associated with colonialist practice as scholars like Edward Said has taught us. The concept of the “Orient” from which the name of organization (and countless others) derives carries with it a dense network of racial, cultural, political, and even economic associations that developed from the various branches of continental “Oriental studies” that defined and supported colonial practices. 

The persistence of the term “Oriental” in the ASOR name is a historical artifact laden with baggage that directly impacts the intellectual mission of our organization. We simply cannot be both “oriental” and post-colonial, for example. We can’t preach that we respect and value our colleagues and communities in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt or anywhere else that ASOR affiliated scholars work, while also officially recognizing Orientalism in our name. It’s intellectually inconsistent and politically incongruous. 

The name has to change and there appears to be broad consensus on this point. A new name for ASOR, however, will certainly be the greater challenge. On the one hand, renaming ASOR will not eliminate the Orientalist past (and, frankly, present) of the organization, but it will de-emphasize its impact on our future. On the other hand, so much of our discipline of archaeology (and history) is grounded in the same intellectual and political moments that produced Orientalism (for example, the Enlightenment), if we can even consider Orientalism and archaeology to be genuinely separate things. Rebranding ASOR will show intent to challenge basic assumptions about archaeological ways of thinking, traditions, methods, and practices, but the job itself is far from over. If incremental changes within the disciplines that make up ASOR have led us to this point, then we have to hope that they’re part of a longer trajectory that bends toward practices that are more inclusive, dynamic, and liberating. 

New Book Day: The Beast

Over the past year, I’ve been collaborating with a Nicole Burton and Hugh Goldring from Ad Astra Comix, Patrick McCurdy from the University of Ottawa, David Haeselin from the UND Department of English and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, and some remarkable contributors to produce an expanded, digital version of The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet.

The book has been available as a comic for the over a year (and you can buy it, in the U.S. from AK Press and in Canada from Ad Astra), but our expanded digital edition offers a good bit more content putting this remarkable comic in a wider context.

THE BEAST digital edition cover 1

Here’s the media release:

Ad Astra Comix Partners with the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota on an Expanded Digital Version of The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet.

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is thrilled to announce a collaboration with Ontario-based Ad Astra Comix to release a new expanded version of the provocative graphic novel, The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet.

The Beast takes a critical look at the media war over the tar/oil sands debate and the endless struggle for the public’s imagination. The original, paper version launched on Earth Day, April 22, 2018, and emerged from a collaboration between Patrick McCurdy, Associate Professor in Communication at the University of Ottawa, Ad Astra’s writer, Hugh Goldring, and illustrator, Nicole Burton. The project brought together McCurdy’s academic research on environmental communication with the genre of comics.

The Beast seeks to stoke a public debate on the incessant role of public relations campaigns on shaping the public perception of the tar/oil sands. These campaigns discourage thoughtful and nuanced discussion of the cost of tar/oil sans and, instead, for the public is forced to “pick sides”: the environment or the economy; protestors or industry; live with or without oil. The Beast cultivates a more ambiguous and ambivalent middle ground through what David Haeselin, UND English and contributor describes as, “A compelling investigation into the people behind the media messages that shape how we think about energy.”

It tells the story of two recent college graduates, Callum and Mary, who find themselves negotiating a muddy path between environmental activism and having to live and work in a world driven by the resource-extractive industry. “The Beast is a reminder that if we are going to save the planet, we need to be honest with each other, and ourselves,” said Goldring.

The Expanded Digital Edition includes the original published comic as well as four new critical essays by Patrick McCurdy, Kyle Conway, Tommy Wall and Chris Russill, and Benjamin Woo along with an interview with Hugh Goldring and Patrick McCurdy.

McCurdy says, “The academic edition brings together a collection of scholarly essays intended to further conversation and reflection about how energy resources and environmental resources are talked about and understood. While the comic focuses on Alberta’s oil sands, The Beast addresses issues which are equally relevant to the oil fields of Texas and California to the Bakken shale which sees how these energy sources and the future of these resources are framed in the media matter.”

“The Digital Press is excited to partner with Patrick McCurdy and Ad Astra Comix to publish this expanded version of The Beast. This book has already attracted international attention for taking on a difficult topic and expanding the debate beyond academia and specialized media”, said publisher, Bill Caraher. “The free, expanded, open-access version of the The Beast puts the project in a critical context and opens this work to new audiences, including in North Dakota, who struggle with tensions around ‘making a living on a dying planet.’”

The newly released The Beast is available for free as a download at https://thedigitalpress.org/thebeast.

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota serves “to publish timely works in the digital humanities, broadly conceived. Whenever possible, we produce open access, digital publications, that can attract local and global audiences”.

For further insight, read the LA Review of Books August review of The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet.

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Our ASOR Paper: A Small Production Site on Cyprus

Scott Moore and I finished our paper for the 2018 ASOR Annual Meeting this fall with alarming efficiency. The paper is titled “A Small Production Site at Polis” and offers a pretty detailed – albeit short – description of the area EF1 at Polis Chrysochous on Cyprus and some chronological notes regarding the material from the site.

EF1Phase1 01

What makes this interesting is that the site has pretty decent chronological controls thanks to a Byzantine lead seal associated with a burial that has a clear physical relationship with features at the site. This burial represents the latest activity at the site and dated to some time after the final decades of the 7th century.

Burial

The site itself has some decent deposits that allow us to date the earliest phase to later than the mid-6th century and the later modifications to it to sometime later than the early 7th, but earlier than the early 8th centuries (that is, earlier than the burial).

EF1Phase2 01

The assemblage is largely residual, but it still provides us with a useful cross-section of activity at the site in the 6th and 7th century which has some local significance in how we use ceramic assemblages to date activity across the site.

Check out our paper here.   

Also, do check out some of the buzz about the potential of a name change for ASOR. This is motivated by concern about the ambiguity of the name (what are the Schools of  Oriental Research?), the outdated (if not racist) use of the term “Oriental” to describe the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, and the fact that many ASOR members are not American or even affiliated with an American university. The challenge, I suspect, will not be agreeing to change the name, but agreeing on a new name… but we’ll see.

American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting

The American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting starts tomorrow in Denver, Colorado. Generally speaking, I’m too socially awkward and introverted to enjoy these big meetings very much. They’re long and tiring for me and I dislike travel.

At the same time, over the past five years, I’ve come to feel more and more part of the ASOR community through my service on the Program Committee, the Committee on Publication, and as an academic trustee of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI). Despite my normal apprehension, I know that the meetings will be interesting and panels will remind me of why I became a student of the ancient Mediterranean.

Following Dimitri Nakassis’s lead, I ran the abstract book through Voyant tools (h/t to Shawn Graham for this idea!) and made the word cloud below from this dataset

BillCaraher 2018 Nov 10

I also pulled from the online program book the various panels on Cyprus this year. Nancy Serwint in the chair of the Cyprus sessions and they look good and filled with the usual suspects! I’m particularly intrigued to get an update from the folks at the Makounta-Voules Archaeological Project, which shared our hotel at Polis this last summer, and Tom Davis’s ongoing work at Kourion. Our paper, I’m moderately excited about our paper, which is at 4:50 on Friday. It is super empirical and descriptive, but has an interesting interpretative twist at the end. Come and check it out (or check back here tomorrow and read it!).

Friday, November 16th

6B. Archaeology of Cyprus I Evergreen B

Theme: The Archaeology of Cyprus sessions focus on archaeological, art historical, and material culture investigation and assessment covering the broad spectrum of Cypriot studies from prehistory to the modern period. 

CHAIR: Nancy Serwint (Arizona State University)

PRESENTERS: 10:40 Alan Simmons (University of Nevada, Las Vegas), “Sailing Neanderthals: Early Mediterranean Voyagers and the Role of Cyprus in Perspective” (20 min.)

11:05 Kathryn Grossman (North Carolina State University), Tate Paulette (North Carolina State University), Andrew McCarthy (University of Edinburgh), and Lisa Graham (University of Edinburgh), “Pre-urban Trajectories on the Northwest Coast of Cyprus: The First Two Seasons of the Makounta-Voules Archaeological Project” (20 min.)

11:30 Lindy Crewe (Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute), “Kissonerga-Skalia Bronze Age Settlement Excavation” (20 min.)

11:55 Christine Johnston (Western Washington University), “Import Distribution and Network Integration in Bronze Age Cyprus” (20 min.)

12:20 Ellis Monahan (Cornell University), “A History of Violence? A Reassessment of the Evidence for Internecine Conflict in Bronze Age Cyprus” (20 min.)

7B. Archaeology of Cyprus II Evergreen B

PRESENTERS: 2:00 Zuzana Chovanec (Institute of Archaeology, Slovak Academy of Sciences), “The Symbolic Landscape of Prehistoric Bronze Age Cyprus as Represented in Figural Representation in Ritual Vessels: A New Interpretation” (20 min.)

2:25 Thierry Petit (Université Laval), “The First ‘Ruler’s Dwelling’ in Cyprus? A Pre-Palatial Building on the Acropolis of Amathus” (20 min.)

2:50 Nassos Papalexandrou (University of Texas at Austin), “Tomb 79 Salamis, Cyprus: The Griffin Cauldron in Its Local, Near Eastern, and Mediterranean Context” (20 min.)

3:15 Georgia Bonny Bazemore (Eastern Washington University), “Aphrodite Aside: The Sanctuary of the Male Deity and the Religion of the Ancient Paphian Kingdom” (20 min.)

3:40 Laura Gagne (Carleton University), “Silencing the God Who Speaks: The Destruction of the Sanctuary at Lingrin tou Digheni”’ (20 min.)

8B. Archaeology of Cyprus III Evergreen B

PRESENTERS:

4:20 Introduction (5 min.) 4:25 Nancy Serwint (Arizona State University), “The Terracotta Corpus from Marion/Arsinoe: How a Coroplast Thinks” (20 min.)

4:50 R. Scott Moore (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and William Caraher (University of North Dakota), “A Small Production Site at Polis” (20 min.)

5:15 Lucas Grimsley (Southwestern Theological Seminary), Laura Swantek (Arizona State University), Thomas Davis (Southwestern Theological Seminary), Christopher Davey (University of Melbourne), and William Weir (University of Cincinnati), “Kourion Urban Space Project: 2018 Season Preliminary Results” (20 min.)

5:40 Ann-Marie Knoblauch (Virginia Tech), “Cypriot Antiquities, Cesnola, and American Cultural Identity in 1880s New York” (20 min.) 

Veterans Day, the Great War, and Free Speech

It’s Veterans Day and we’re also recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Great War.

In keeping with this, I figured I should send you along to the North Dakota Quarterly page to check out the first volume in our Reprint Series: The University of North Dakota and the Great War. It features articles from 1916, 1917, and 1919 including Wesley R. Johnson’s remarkable “War Experience of a University Student as a Dough Boy” published in 1919.

Und and the great war

To this remarkable account, we can add the results of some research by a University of North Dakota student, Sawyer Flynn, who transcribed a pair of remarkable poems written by Horace Shidler to honor his fallen friend Harold Holden Sayre. These poems were discovered during the Wesley College Documentation Project as Sayre’s father donated Sayre Hall to Wesley College (and later renamed the hall in memory of his late son).

The poems and Sawyer’s research speak for themselves.  

Finally, if you’re in Grand Forks, come down to Half Brothers Brewing from 6-8 pm to an event hosted by UND’s Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies. Tonights event is titled Sports, Speech, and Justice: A Community Conversation. It features Eric Burin and a panel of luminaries pulled from the pages of his latest edited volume, Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America. More importantly, it provides a space for a conversation about free speech, justice, and patriotism in 21st century America, and this feels like a good way to recognize the sacrifices of veterans.

Be sure to check out Jason Reid’s feature article on African American Veterans over at the Undefeated which quotes Eric’s book!

Harold Sayre, Wesley College, and the Great War

Last year, I had a remarkable group of students who worked with me on the Wesley College Documentation Project. We spent time in the Wesley College collection in the University of North Dakota’s Department of Special Collection’s Wesley College papers. In a folder titled “Harold Sayre Tributes” the students discovered a pair of poems written by Horace Shidler who served with Sayre in World War I. Sayre died in the Great War.

Sawyer Flynn, one of the students in the class, transcribed the poems and prepared this introduction. He generously gave me permission to publish this material here.

Sayre Poem

Last semester at the University of North Dakota, I had the pleasure of working with a team from the History Department under Dr. William Caraher. A 1 credit course based on documenting “Two Old Buildings” (which became the name of the course), ultimately lead to the Wesley College Documentation project. Over the semester, a group of students, faculty, and outside experts went room to room in Robertson-Sayre and Corwin-Larimore halls, buildings that in some cases dated back to 1909, documenting the architecture and the objects within. While our findings on this front were interesting, we weren’t expecting to find a story as deep as that of Sayre Hall. While most buildings on campus are named for important administrators or donors, Sayre Hall was named for a man who was, by all accounts, a war hero.

Harold Holden Sayre left Stanford University as a sophomore and enlisted in the American Field Service in 1917. While he began service in the ambulance corps in the Balkans, when the United States formally entered the war, he entered the U.S. Army Air Service in the 11th Aero Squadron.

There, as a rear-facing gunner for his pilot, Horace Shidler, Sayre lost his life on September 14th, 1918 over Saint-Mihiel. Ambushed by Jasta 11, the squadron Manfred Von Richthofen, the “Red Baron”, had commanded until April of that year, the bombers were easy prey for veteran German pilots. The German fighters emerged from above the bombers using the cover of the sun and quickly engaged multiple bombers, losing only one of their own.

Harold Sayre opened fire on the fighters and was struck repeatedly by machinegun fire. In spite of this he “kept his guns going until life left his body”, and in standing up to fire, shielded Shidler from the volley of bullets that would have taken his life.

When the strap holding Sayre’s body upright was struck by a bullet, Sayre’s body fell against the controls in the rear cockpit, forcing Shidler to crash land in a copse of trees. There, Shidler buried Sayre, despite being badly wounded himself. A German soldier waited at a distance for him to finish, and then captured him.

Shidler became a prisoner of war, and it was in his cell that he wrote “AT THE GRAVE OF A DEAD GUNNER.” The second poem was written in 1919, after the Great War had concluded.

These two poems struck me as incredibly poignant when I first read them. Today, the 100th year anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, the Wesley College Documentation Project went back to the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections to scan these documents in honor of Harold H. Sayre and all the men and women who served in “The War to End all Wars.”

Citation: Harold Sayre Tributes. Wesley College Papers. UA 63, Box 4. University Archives. Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.

AT THE GRAVE OF A DEAD GUNNER.
By His Pilot. LIEUT. HORACE SHIDLER
April 17, 1919.

Oh Pard! I’ve come back to you,
As you lay here beneath the sod.
I can see your features strong and true,
Turned upward toward God.

Thinking of the hours that you an I,
Have spent, as thought we were one.
Sailing across the pale blue sky,
‘Tween earth and the burning sun.

When we roamed together through the vineyard,
By our billet in the old Chateau,
And felt that growing kindred.
How close that kin did grow!

Since you left me, Pard, I guess I’ve been
Through near an earthly Hell.
Thro’ Par, you know it was not through sin
That I went to the Prison Cell.

In the evening gloom would go the wall,
in that cell of German Alsace.
And becknoning to me with a call
You would come in to its place.

Wearily the days and weeks went by,
And at last come the end of the war.
No more by the deadly weapons to die,
Were men in battles’ horror.

But is stand here, Pard, beside your grave,
With a wound that is bleeding tears.
While you’re with the One whose life He gave,
For humanity, through all these years.

But a life I’ll live in honor to you,
With the help of God on High.
I’ll think of you my whole life through
And join you when I die.

………

LIEUT. HAROLD SAYRE,
From his Pilot at the Front,
Lt. Horace Shidler

On the fourteenth morning of September
Just after the clouds rolled off;
On a mission of death they sent us
to bomb a place southwest of Joeuf.

We crossed the lines at Verdun
Where the ground was soaked blood,
The Archie was pounding up at us
And burst with a hollow thud.

Thru a screen of shrapnel we flew,
Led by a man who’d of’t been before;
Who had gone thru many of such
and who lived to go thru more.

Over the objective the Squadron sailed
And the signal to bomb was given,
Straight to their mark, like a leaden dart,
Our heavy bomb were driven.

I saw them light in the yards of Conflans,
Saw a train fly to bits by their crash,
It was the troops, artillery and supplies
Of the enemy we had to smash.

Then the guns from the ground ceased firing,
And the shrapnel ceased to burst;
We were alone with the moan of our engines
I knew mine was doing her worst.

Pard and I was flying the position
Of end on the wing to the right;
The easiest machine to attack,
In case of an aerial fight.

Then out of the sun on our left
Dropped thirty German Chasse;
Straight into our flanks they drove at us
Attacking in a mass.

Oh! where was the American Chasse!
To help us against these numbers;
South of our lines, of course
Peacefully resting in slumbers.

The squadron that came against us
All fliers, knew to be bad;
They were the remnants of the old Ritchthoffen,
The best the Germans had.

The first to fall of our number,
Was one in the left of the flank;
The machine behind gave throttle,
And moved forward to fill the blank.

The next to go was a German,
Who pitched forward into flame;
And it wasn’t from the wreck of that machine
That they found its pilot’t name.

Then on to us drove three black streaks
In desperate hot pursuit;
The dash was splintered, the fabric split,
My God! how they could shoot!

And here the sadness of it begins,
As i tell this story to you;
And the sadness felt by me,
Is seldom felt by few.

Harold Sayre was a man of men,
Proud was I that he should be;
The man that handled the guns,
That protected the aft of we.

He was shot and fell against the tarrel,
And held by the belt around him;
For after protection I knew I had none
and I felt so helpless without him.

Then close up they came,
For they knew I was defenseless;
With throttle open I tried to run
For I know that I was helpless.

I was getting away while around me flew,
The tracers in all directions
They shot the dial, they ripped the wings
Sure they shot me up to perfection!

The belt that held poor Pard was shot,
It broke and let him fall;
On to the controls, I felt them jamb,
And I knew that that was all.

The right wing dropped into a slip
The machine then started to spin;
Three followed us down still shooting,
Just trying to do us in.

With only a little rudder control
And just a little stick;
I got the old bus out of the shot,
And managed to turn the trick.

To try to land upon the ground,
Would be certain death for us both;
I had hopes of Pard still living,
Then I saw blood come from his mouth.

A forest then was our only chance
To it we had to make it;
So toward that I worked our way,
And smashed headlong down through it.

The wings stayed high in the tree-tops,
We came to rests three feet from the dirt;
Then I yelled to Pard who was silent,
“Oh Pard! How bad are you hurt”.

My belt was quickly unfastened
Over the wreckage I made a leap;
And there in a sickening looking pile
Lay Pard, “lifeless”, in a heap.

Then to get him out of the wreck,
Was a thing I had to do;
I lifted and pulled and tugged,
Until I exhausted grew.

But finally I got him out of the wreck,
And by him on the ground I knelt;
There alone with him in those woods,
Only God knows how I felt.

He was the closest friend I ever had,
A model of his kind;
Healthy and strong in his body
Clean and straight in his mind.

A soldier in his “teens” had found us
And his feelings seemed to be deep;
When he saw how close I was,
On the verge of beginning to weep.

A tree stood near Pard’s head,
And there I carved into its bark,
His rank, his name, a cross and then,
The date beneath his mark.

I am not a “goodie” fellow
No one likes a “Man” like I;
Some say it is only women
Who pray, and weep, and cry.

But there in that Loney timber,
In range of the Mighty Gun;
I prayed to the Heavenly Guardian
For the sake of someone’s son.

How my own flesh wounds are almost well,
And soon will be no more;
But the wound in my heart will never heal
For it reaches to the very core.

As I sit here now, alone in my cell
My eyes dim till it is hard to see;
Remembering the look on his pitiful face,
When he looked up at me.

Strange things happen in peace or war,
To this we’ll all agree;
Oh God! if one of us had to go,
Then Lord why wasn’t it me.

But now you have chosen me to stay
In this land of joy and trouble;
Let me live and raise a boy to be,
A “Harold Sayre’s” double.

LIEUT. HORACE SHIDLER,
U.S. Air Service,
Returned Prisoner of War.

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

It’s a snowy Friday morning here in North Dakotaland, but the start of cricket in Australia, Formula 1 in Brazil, the Eagles are on Sunday Night Football, and a stack of books by the fire might give us enough to stay warm through the weekend.

If you’re in Grand Forks (or just North Dakotaland, in general), make a date to see Bret Weber give his Faculty Lecture on Wednesday at 4 in the Memorial Union on the lovely campus of UND.

Also, be sure to check out Sports, Speech, and Justice: A Community Conversation on Monday evening from 6-8 at Half Brothers Brewing in beautiful downtown Grand Forks. It features Eric Burin and a panel of luminaries pulled from the pages of his latest edited volume, Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America.

If that’s not enough, here’s a little list of quick hits and varia:

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An Abstract for 12th IEMA Conference: Critical Archaeology in the Digital Age

I’m behind with everything including finishing my abstract for the 12th annual IEMA Conference at the University of Buffalo. The conference is titled: Critical Archaeology in the Digital Age and from the looks of the preliminary program, it should be fantastic! 

My paper will be an effort to weave together my evolving thoughts on publishing and my interest in how digital approaches to both fieldwork and data dissemination are challenging the fundamental paradigms that shape how archaeology is practiced. Hopefully, some of my stuttering and stammering paper for the European Journal of Archaeology staggers its way into this paper.

Collaborative Digital Publishing in Archaeology: Data, Workflows, and Books in the Age of Logistics

Historically, the culmination of archaeological work was a final report or definitive monograph. In fact, publication has become an ethical imperative for our discipline and major excavations became known as much by their neatly arranged series of publications as monumental remains. For most of the 20th century, the expertise, care, and funds necessary to produce these publications represented a separate phase of knowledge making shaped by its own technical, economic, and practical limits.

In the 21st century, digital practices are transforming both archaeological practices in the field and the concept publication. The fragmentation of archaeological knowledge as digital data produces portable, sharable, remixable, and transformable publications that are less stable and less definitive than their predecessors in print. As a result, while final publications continue to appear, they are joined by published data of various kinds – from GPS and total station coordinates to digitally generated point clouds, photographs and videos, and XRF results. Project are also more invested than ever in creating unique ways to understand, interpret, and engage their site. These collaborations have eroded the conceptual and disciplinary barriers between field work, analysis and publication. It is possible, for example, to publish from the trenchside or survey unit and to create definitive digital publications that are modular and open to revision. The growing permeability between the processes of field work, analysis, and publishing, has both the potential to transform the concept of publication in archaeology (as well as across the humanities) and marks the rise of a new intellectual model for the production of knowledge. If 20th century archaeology followed the linear logic of the assembly line and culminated in the final publication, 21st century archaeology draws on the disperse efficiency sought in the contemporary focus on logistics. Logistics, with its emphasis on streamlining the movement of goods, data, and people, offers a useful, if problematic paradigm, for a discipline increasingly committed to finding new ways to make archaeological knowledge accessible and usable to a broader constituency. 

Subscribe to North Dakota Quarterly!

Yesterday, a nice little story on North Dakota Quarterly in the University of North Dakota’s official news feed, UND TodayGo read it!

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The main goal of this article is not so much to celebrate the re-appearance of NDQ, but to announce that we selling subscriptions! One of the great challenges facing NDQ in the past was getting an online subscription platform up and running at UND. Our partnership with the University of Nebraska Press has solved this problem and you can now subscribe to the Quarterly by going here

By subscribing you’ll get an amazing collection of fiction, poetry, and essays in two double issues of NDQ per year. More than that, you’ll be investing in the public arts and humanities and making it possible for NDQ to continue for years to come and show the world and the campus community that literary journals are sustainable investments.  Subscribe!