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BAJR Update: The More Than Minima Campaign

21 May

The British Archaeology Jobs and Resource (BAJR) site has recently unleashed a new campaign aimed at highlighting job adverts that pay more than the minimum salary wage.  The More than Minima campaign aims to highlight and recognise any job advertisement on the BAJR website that pays beyond the minima as a starting rate, which helps to promote fair pay within the archaeological industry.  Advertisements that meet this criteria will have the BAJR grene thumbs up logo attached to the job advertisements, so that potential applicants can immediately know that the company and position pay above the recognised and current pay grades.

bajrminmin

On all archaeological job advertisements on the BAJR website look out for the green thumbs up logo to show that the advertisement offers a More than Minima salary (Image courtesy of David Connolly/BAJR).

I had the chance to ask David Connolly, who runs the BAJR site and has kickstarted the campaign himself, why he felt it was necessary to bring in the More than Minima campaign now and what he hoped to achieve with it.  This is his response:

I think the point is the positivity of the campaign.  This is not a punishment driven proposal, it is one that commends the companies that try that little bit extra to provide better pay (and conditions) for their staff.  Flagging these adverts is a way of saying thanks! It also hopefully suggests that paying better than the bare minima is a way to attract staff, who will be more inclined to feel valued.

Of course the campaign will continue along with the skills passport (which is to be ready in 1 week).  The real battle is in getting the archaeologists to support it as well. Not to take below minima jobs, not to accept poor pay and not to continue the fallacy that any job is better than none.

This is a big directional campaign rewarding companies and asking archaeologists to help it grow.

The new campaign follows hot on the trail of the announcement this week that the rising levels of interest rates and inflation rates threaten the recovery of the UK economy.  Whilst it is hoped that the rise in wages will outpace inflation in the long term, it is news that will worry many.  Archaeology is a profession that has long been undervalued, both in terms of actual inherent worth and in the many diverse skills that the sector and it’s employees actually have.

Here at These Bones of Mine I heartily endorse the new campaign and hope that you to can join in and spread the word about it as well.  We must not, as archaeologists, undersell or undervalue our skilled industry.  As such I believe that this campaign will benefit not just the job seeking archaeologist and the companies themselves, but archaeology as an industry by setting an industry standard.   The recent approval and success  for the Chartership of the Institute of Archaeologists has come at a great time for the archaeology industry, but we must continue to promote the value and wealth of the archaeology profession as a whole.  The More than Minima is one more such campaign and I urge you to back it.

Further Info

  • See the BAJR forum for the announcement of the More Than Minima campaign and for some reaction from the archaeological community.

Archaeology and The Damage Done

8 Sep

Following on from the previous posts on Free Archaeology and the excellent guest post on Commercial Archaeology by Charles Hay on my site, I recently spotted this informative, evocative and important article by Stuart Rathbone on Robert M Chapple’s site entitled The Four and a Half Inch Pointing Trowel…And the Damage Done.  The post discusses life as a field archaeologist, not just the routine hardships of a lifestyle constantly on the move but one of the stresses of the job that are not often mentioned or discussed in mainstream archaeological outlets.  This includes the physical hardships of the job on the body and the emotional hardships on maintaining relationships with the constant stresses and strains of moving for work, whilst also putting up with low pay and often sub-par working conditions (especially in comparison with other skilled workers).

It is important that these aspects of the job are talked about, are mentioned and are discussed within the profession.  It is an important post and one worth a read for everyone involved with, or interested in, archaeology as it is carried out by field workers.  Ultimately Stuart writes that “what I desperately hope is that we can begin to resolve the situation and that the next generation of aspiring archaeologists will not have to put up with the same bullshit that we have already had to put up with for far too long.

If you want to help contribute please comment or message Stuart Rathbone or Robert Chapple on the above blog post link and let them know of your experiences as a field archaeologist.

News: Amazonian Archaeology & Oldest AMH In SE Europe (Ukraine)

23 Jun

Amazonian Archaeology

Recently there has been a fantastic series on British Television called Unnatural Histories.  One episode in particular focuses on the Amazon rainforest and its past.  If you live inside Britain you can watch it here on BBC Iplayer.  If not, its called Unnatural Histories Episode 3: Amazon, please let me know if you find it elsewhere.

It details the history of the Amazon rainforest from 3 particular angles; the modern environmentalist perspective, the modern day people who live there and it also includes recent Pre-Columbian archaeological findings from ancient sites situated along the Amazon river.  Of particular interest are the massive amounts of earthenwork Geoglyphs being found alongside the Amazon river, and beyond in the forest.  Roughly dating from around AD 100 up until AD 1300, these monuments range in size, from the small to the sublime.  Sadly, these are often uncovered after the effects of deforestation.  The geogylphs are often found without many clues as to their function with little material remains associated with the sites, although they are most likely socio-religious meeting points.  Very interestingly, archaeologists have found numerous ‘roads’ which link up various sites.  At other sites alongside the river, mounds had been built up in which Pre-Columbian peoples lived atop of during the flooding seasons.

Brazilian Geoglyphs In The Amazon Rainforest

This is particularly exciting to me, as during my undergraduate degree course, very little archaeologically was said on the vast expanse of land that the Amazon extends over in South America.  This was in direct contrast to the vast tracts of archaeology that litter the dry, mountainous western side of that continent (Tinwanaku, Huari, & Inca civilizations etc).  The last 15 minutes of the show are fascinating as the sites found recently keep piling up, and as it also juxtapositions the past populations onto a map of the modern populations.  It is well worth a watch.

Oldest SE European Anatomically Modern Humans Found In The Ukraine

In other news, a recent PLoS ONE article discusses human and faunal remains from a Middle and Upper Palaeolithic site located in the Crimea, Ukraine.  This site has the earliest evidence of AMS dated modern Homo Sapiens, and also includes some very interesting mortuary practices.  The site is perfect as it has securely dated stratigraphy, distinct geological boundaries, alongside an impressive use of the multidisciplinary approach in its investigations and conclusions.

I will shortly write up a proper review on this entry.  In the meantime, the article can be found here:

Prat et al. 2011. The Oldest Anatomically Modern Humans from Far Southeast Europe: Direct Dating, Culture and Behavior’

RIP Tim Hetherington & Chris Hondros

22 Apr

Photograph By Tim Hetherington.

Today I read the obituary of Tim Hetherington, a renowned photojournalist who was recently killed, alongside the photographer Chris Hondros, by mortar rounds in Misurata, in the ongoing conflict in Libya a few days ago.  His obituary in The Daily Telegraph can be found here, and his obituary on the Human Rights Watch website can be found here.

Chad Soldiers Near Sudanese Border (Hetherington 2006).

As I read about his journalistic work covering conflicts, recording people’s stories and the unrest in countries such as Nigeria, Chad, Libya, Afghanistan, Darfur and Liberia amongst others, I recognised his work.  I had watched Restrepo, his and Sebastian Junger’s film about US soldiers deployed in Afghanistan.  His work has helped to spark international outrage over Liberia’s civil war and the atrocities carried out by Charles Taylor, which has helped to inform Western audiences.  He will also be remembered for his dedicated work with Human Rights Watch.

It is important that we do not forget that whilst he was objective in his work and compassionate in his outlook, Hetherington also worked and helped support various charities that tried to make a difference for the hard hit people he documented.

As journalists document the world around them, archaeologists document the world before them.  However archaeologists are not immune from what goes around them.  We, too, live in the present.  We do not just deal in the past.  Although we uncover and investigate artefacts and cultures, we also use multidisciplinary approaches in our work.  We use ethnographic evidence from a wide range of nations, we participate with research groups from other countries, we compile evidence and hold discussions worldwide.  One way in which we can become involved is through groups such as this University of Sheffield Archaeologists for Justice.

This is the world we live in.  We can help to make an informed decision.  There is a variety of blogs (The Activist), newspapers, magazine and television programs (Unreported World strand) that help to highlight injustice in the world, and more importantly what we can do as individuals or groups to help change.

You too can help by sponsoring or donating money to a number of important charities.  I have named a few in the blog roll below, here are a few more:

The Avaaz- The World In Action site directly provides the people with a voice on matters worldwide, from a world-wide community.  Medecins Sans Frontieres are a charity that support doctors and provide medical supplies to various poverty & war stricken nations across the world.  The Disaster Emergency Committee provide vital care and aid to countries that have to cope with natural disaster aftermaths, both in the long-term and the short-term.  Unicef is the United Nations arm that help to provide care and attention to children throughout the world.  The Anti-Slavery charity website help investigate, report and help people recuperate worldwide from the effects of modern-day slavery.  This is involves sex slavery, child slavery & forced labour in a variety of countries.