Several times on this blog I have bewailed the fact that geomorphologists do not seem to be gainfully employed these days on archaeological projects -- especially on those relating to Stonehenge. Where are they? What are they doing if they are not doing this? Well, I suppose many of the brighter young geomorphologists (and glaciologists) these days are working on big projects related to global climate change -- and that's fair enough. But there are plenty of geomorphologists coming out of the UK universities with good degrees -- and an ability to make meaningful contributions to the archaeology projects currently under way.
Have any geomorphologists been employed on the recent MPP team digs at Craig Rhosyfelin, Garn Turne, Bluestonehenge, Cursus etc, and the TD/GW digs on the Preseli Hills and at Stonehenge? We hear occasional rumours about somebody with geomorphological expertise being "consulted" -- but these shadowy figures are hard to find, and it's even harder to find anything in the literature which they have directly contributed to some of the ongoing debates. Of course, even if they are getting stuck in on some of these digs, they will be acting as "geomorphologists in the service of archaeology" -- and will therefore be subject to exactly the same pressures as the "geologists in the service of archaeology" (like Rob and Richard) who currently publish in archaeological journals. Of course, I would never accuse them of bias, but if you are publishing in archaeological journals, with archaeologists as editors, and for a readership of archaeologists, of course you do what you can to enhance the chances of your papers being accepted and published. And that means a few hints here, a few conclusions there, that you might not have put in had the papers been submitted to straight geology journals.......... And without saying anything at all about the quality of the papers concerned, I wonder whether the editors of the journals concerned actually use GEOLOGISTS as referees prior to acceptance?
What we are talking about here is a very subtle process which gradually poisons the academic debate. If geomorphologists are absent from the process of putting together research applications, from the dig sites and from the definitions of fieldwork protocols etc, and from the evening discussions by the dig teams, then bias will be introduced at the very earliest stages of a project. That is why I was so appalled and disappointed by the Newport presentations by the team responsible for the Rhosyfelin dig -- it was clear to me (and others in the audience) that nobody had been present to challenge internally the ruling hypothesis that drove the whole team forward. So what we ended up with was a tidy and interesting dig but BAD SCIENCE. This refers:
See my other posts on Craig Rhosyfelin also -- you can find them by using the search box.
So a word to archaeologists -- why aren't you employing geomorphologists on your digs? Are you really afraid that these guys might somehow disturb your comfortable convictions about the noble works of man? And a word to geomorphologists -- why aren't you getting involved in these big archaeology projects and seeking to convince project leaders that you have something to offer?