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Editor-in-Chief Eugenia Ellanskaya Creative Director Ruthy Mason Editors Eugenia Ellanskaya Lewis Glynn Michael Yap Contributors Maddy Bleasdale Eve Hoon Richard Lewis Lewis Glynn Ethan Doyle White Holly Brentnall Eugenia Ellanskaya Ruthy Mason Thanks to... Stephen Shennan Bill Sillar Judy Medrington Thom Rynsaard Cover Photograpy Lisa Randisi Kait Antso Foucault Illustration Charlotte Ellinas






Archaeology on the London Underground



Social Media



The Power of Phenomenology



Michael Foucault: Archaeologist



Is Science the new Religion?



Alternative Celebrities: the shaman of Siberia



Archaeologists Anonymous



The Anthropology of IKEA



Interview with Matt Symonds



Artifact is an Archaeology and Anthropology magazine based in the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, London. If you have any queries, comments, or would like to write for us, email the address below: Copyright Artifact 2012. All rights reserved.


WHEN RESTORATION GOES WRONG For most archaeologists a broken piece of pottery, a charred bone or a dirty bit of shell could be viewed as something quite beautiful, but there is still something greatly satisfying about seeing an ancient object restored to its former glory. To an outsider, restoring an artefact seems fairly straightforward but there are many things to take into consideration before embarking on the work. Those carrying out the task have to think carefully about preserving an object’s integrity (be it historical, aesthetic or physical) regardless of the item’s value or present condition. They also carry out treatments that are largely reversible. I was surprised to be starkly reminded of these principles one sunny August afternoon. I was surfing the net with the Killers blaring out, when I came across a rather unusual news article. It was about an elderly woman in Spain who had decided to take it upon herself to restore a fresco of Christ. The painting Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez had been kept in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church, Zaragoza Spain for over a hundred years.


The elderly parishioner, Cecilia Gimenez, was upset by the painting’s current state of deterioration and took it upon herself to restore it. Unfortunately, the end result was something far from the original.

She may have had the best intentions but she was clearly out of her depth, and although the fresco was not commercially valuable it meant a great deal to the local community. When questioned, Ms Gimenez defended her actions stating that she had permission from the priest to carry out the work: “(The) priest knew it! He did! How could you do something like that without permission? He knew it!” Teresa Garcia, granddaughter of the original artist said Ms Gimenez had painted the tunic before, but the image became disfigured when she painted Christ’s head. In an interesting turn of events, the badly restored fresco (dubbed “Monkey Jesus”) has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. As soon as photos of the painting hit the internet the image went viral, and a great amount of interest was generated. Its popularity is so great that Ryanair is now offering deals to the area and encouraging people to see the fresco. Thousands of people have since visited the church, but Ms Gimenez’s lawyer EnrigueTrebolle said: “If this implies an economic compensation, she wants it to be for charitable purposes.” He added that Ms Gimenez wants the money raised to go to charities helping those with muscular atrophy, as her son suffered from the condition.

Art experts are expected to meet with Ms Gimenez and discuss the materials she used in order to attempt to restore the painting. City councillor Juan Maria Ojeda said: “Next week she will meet with a repairer and explain what kind of materials she used. If we can’t fix it, we will probably cover the wall with a photo of the painting.” To make matters worse, the local artwork preservation centre had ironically just received a donation from the painter’s granddaughter, which they had planned to use the money to restore the fresco. The badly restored painting may have raised awareness about the care and maintenance of historical artwork but we should not lose sight of the fact that the original painting was essentially destroyed. As archaeologists we are aware that excavation in itself is a destructive process. We should strive to prevent the further deterioration of artefacts rather than becoming fixated on restoring them to their original state. As for Ms Gimenez perhaps her new fame will allow her to work on other projects… Maddy Bleasdale


A R C H A E O L O G Y 5


Crossrail, London’s ambitious new train line and Europe’s biggest construction project yet, aims to connect 37 new and old stations to link East and West London. Its weapon of choice? Eight tunnelboring machines weighing 1000 tonnes each, used to drill 21km twin-tunnels under Central London to make way for the new line. Since it began construction works in 2009, Crossrail has released a slew of programmes to get the London public involved in this project which is due to be completed in 2018. In January this year, they unveiled a “Name the Tunnel-boring Machines” competition, following which the first 3 pairs were affectionately named Phyllis, Ada, Elizabeth, Victoria, Mary and Sophia. These were names of wives of engineers, Queens who oversaw the railway age, and my personal favourite - Phyllis Pearsall, a lady who got lost on the way to a party in 1935 and decided to walk 3000 miles to put together a new map which she then delivered via wheelbarrow to

her neighbours and friends. What does all of this have to do with archaeology and Artifact? Well, Crossrail is as much a project for a new train line as one of London’s most extensive archaeological excavations spanning 118 km with over 30 sites. It grants archaeologists the opportunity of a lifetime to see what lies under London’s streets and grants them access to previously unimagined areas. When construction began in 2009 at Tottenham Court Road, archaeologists sprang into action to uncover the former Victorian Crosse and Blackwell factory in tandem with the works. There they uncovered a cistern filled with 2.7 tonnes of ceramic and glass vessels, one of the largest Victorian hoards ever excavated. Following the continuation of works at Liverpool Street, Royal Oak, Canary Wharf and Canning Town, archaeologists raced to excavate all they could to piece together London’s history that might otherwise be left unknown.

They have since discovered finds dating back to the Pleistocene ages to Roman times when London was known as Londinium. Yet, the excavations are not restricted to prehistory, they also take us through more current aspects of Britain’s industrial history, including engineering wor11 shipyard to produce an iron ship. The site closed in 1912 but there exist no detailed plans of the layout and the excavations will shed some light on this site, along with other aspects of London’s history. The event was named From Bison to Bedlam: Crossrail’s archaeological story so far, and what a story it is, indeed! The title is a clever play on words of two of the major finds in the excavations: the Ice Age bison bones found at Royal Oak, and a full skeleton from the infamous Bedlam psychiatric hospital at Liverpool Street, and testifies to the range of finds uncovered across a staggering period of time.


Bedlam itself has a rather chilling background storyfounded in 1247 on the site of the present Liverpool Street station, it is the only public hospital for mental patients in the 14th century. Many horror stories about the way they chose to treat the patients remain urban legends, but Bedlam was historically recorded to have allowed 18th century people to visit Bedlam to watch the lunatics that has earned it a rather infamous reputation. Crossrail’s new ticket hall is to be built over this exact location, the burial ground for London’s most infamous psychiatric hospital. Apart from the extremely well-preserved skeleton on display at the exhibition, trial digs have unveiled some 3000 burials which lie just 1.5m below street level. These burials themselves varied throughout time (from shroud burials, to coffin burials, to large pits in a probably epidemic) and the remains themselves reveal a surprising amount about the health, lifestyle and diet of the people. Perhaps the excavations at Liverpool Street can give insight into the mysterious lives of the Bedlam patients that until now has been at most, a source of speculation. Already we can begin to see the tremendous potential such a large-scale excavation can have for establishing London’s heritage. Further examples include the Pleistocene silt under Paddington station that can pin down the dates when humans settled in the British Isles. The cuts on bones found at Paddington can also be scientifically dated to confirm whether Homo Sapiens (50,000 years ago) or their ancestors, Homo Neanderthalensis (50,000350,000 years ago) lived on the land there. With the dense stratigraphy of many years of occupation, the Crossrail project has often

been described to be making sense of the “layer cake” of archaeology under London’s streets. While the finds can indeed help build London’s rich heritage, some of them are in and of themselves exciting to see - a silver denarius coin found in Broadgate that was minted in Rome around 230AD and bears the face of Severus Alexander, a 55-million year old amber fragment from Canary Wharf pulled out from 15m below the ground, and beads from a post-Medieval child burial. The July event whet the appetite of the public who demanded more, prompting the project archaeologist, Jay Carver, to re-open the exhibition for the entire month in October coupled with weekly talks by project archaeologists. Hearing about it from my flat-mate Esmee, I jumped at the opportunity to attend when I heard they would be displaying a mammoth jaw that was not shown in the July show (Jay Carver admitted in the first October talk that the team had “misplaced” the jaw and had only recently found it). While the exhibition presented the main finds, the talks revealed the intricacies of the excavations and behind-the-scenes facts, including the tale of the elusive mammoth jaw. It was great to see how interested the public was about archaeology (the room was so full each week that businessmen in suits sat cross-legged on the floor) and be informed first-hand of progress of the excavations even as evolved. In the first week, project director Jay Carver took us through an overview of the sites and highlighted the main finds which were placed in Perspex boxes around the room. In the second week, Mike Court explained in detail the archaeology at Liverpool Street. He explained how they relied on old Roman maps to interpret finds- including the location of Roman walls and hence burials, which

were usually positioned beyond the walls. Records from the 12th century also enabled them to interpret flattened cattle bones as ice skates people used to skate over the moors when they froze. Hence, the Medieval and Roman finds are rich in Liverpool Street. On the third week, David Sankey took us through the finds at Stepney Green including the postMedieval chamber pot with a cheeky inscription on it alluding to its use. Unfortunately, the picture is bleak when we hit the Victorian periods. In their preoccupation with advancement and the future, the Victorians trampled carelessly over the past, with no records of rescue excavations organized when buildings were constructed in the 18th century and the railway in 1865. The talks demonstrated that the past is as exciting as it is important, and reminds us of the need to balance advancement with heritage. Crossrail stresses the relevance of archaeology to achieve this, which can only be good news for us future archaeologists, right? With 4 years left in the project, future plans for Crossrail archaeologists include excavating the old Warbrook river channel at Barbican, a complete exposure of the Bedlam burial grounds at Broadgate (with over 4000 burials), and the eastern tunnel where archaeologists hope to glean insight into Bronze Age lifestyles. Archaeologists are likely to present these finds again so keep on the lookout for future Crossrail events, where the objects underground are sure to justify the disruption above ground. Eve Hoon

social media Social media has been ruling our lives for the better part of a century now. The dust has barely settled over the pointless shell that was MySpace, the great hulking behemoth that is Facebook has been overrun with parents and personalised adverts that amount to nothing more than targeted junk mail not even suitable for re-use as retro bedding for household rodents and Twitter (all hail the tweet) is gaining more and more users (read Bieber-loving hipsters) every day. Thanks to our laptops and some very clever, and subsequently very rich, smart-people sitting in their air-conditioned “modern” offices in America, we have for the first time in human history, the ability to announce to the entire world at the click of a button that “I’m enjoying my toast, lol”. Ignoring the obvious hints of the apocalypse (definitely not revealed by the ancient Mayans), I actually think that social media is a good thing. As much as it annoys me to admit, the ability to organise parties, gatherings or satanic séances that Facebook permits has been truly useful for a guy who has nothing better to do with his life than flick through picture after picture of funny cats and Lord of the Rings based memes. And the fact that every day I get a little message on my iPhone (blessed be Steve Jobs), telling me who’s birthday it is and gives me the option to send a quick no nonsense message of good tidings to their wall has saved my arse on countless occasions. And Twitter. This is a service that essentially has copied one function from Facebook (wall posts, if that wasn’t clear enough) and somehow managed to make a 500 million member site out of it. Although it is true that the vast majority insist on talking either about an adolescent Chipmunks reject (Justin Bieber), a band of adolescent Bieber wannabes (One (Auto tuned) Direction), or whatever they happened to guzzle down at breakfast, presumably drooling over Simon Cowells latest abuse to the music industry, it does have many saving graces. I’m writing this piece for an archaeology and anthropology magazine. I’m aware of that. So I’m finally going to start talking about how all this relates to pre-history. How the very latest in technological savviness could possibly be linked with cultures old. The very image of

trying to explain the point of a hashtag to a group of Homo erectus is the stuff of an 80’s sketch show reject. Well obviously I’m talking about the way we communicate to other archaeologists, archaeological groups, interested amateurs, and that most hated of generic terms, the “general public”, via the medium of social media. If anyone thought any different I must insist that you put down this magazine right now, go to the nearest bathroom and run water through the obviously empty chasm that should house your brain. Are they gone? Good, OK. Right. Social media. We obviously use social media for multiple tasks, catching up with friends, meeting new people, building pretend farms etc. It is rarer, but not unheard of, to use social media for educational purposes as well. The web 2.0 phenomenon means that now teachers and lecturers can pass on additional information to students outside of the classroom, and they insist on doing this because they think it’s cool. In reality it has the exact same effect as your parent ‘liking’ your status. You die a little inside and no-one else wants to talk to you. These things are invariably, therefore, not fun. A teacher doesn’t suddenly become more interesting just because they’ve posted a video of themselves on to YouTube (although I suppose it depends on the video). So in the university setting, where most of us have an actual interest in the subject we are paying £9,000 per year to sleep through, are there mediums within the framework of social media that can provide us with interesting snippets of data? Well of course there are. Writing this article would be a total waste of time if there weren’t. So I thought I’d introduce a few of my favourite archaeology Tweeters, as well as a couple of random Tweeters that I follow just because they’re funny (education without humour is like a broken pencil, pointless*). I’ve decided to stick with Twitter simply because it better fits in to the category of interesting than Facebook. Facebook forces you to interact with people. Twitter allows you to quietly watch them from the shadows. I prefer that. Slightly more seriously though, Twitter is a fantastic way of interacting with archaeology and staying up to date, not to mention the random things archaeologists tend to tweet about.

Richard Lewis


Lorna Richardson @lornarichardson Lorna is a PhD student at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and is being funded (the lucky bugger) by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We’re not going to hold that against her though, simply because she is the voice of Public Archaeology on Twitter. Rather annoyingly I have nothing judgemental to say about Lorna. She is a very intersting and well informed Tweeter and more than willing to disperse pearls of archaeo-wisdom to the masses. Weird History @historywierd What can I say, I enjoy a good chuckle every once in a while. Weird History, yes I know it’s not strictly archaeology, tweet random, raunchy and grotesque facts about the past, sponsered by Alpha History, an Australian online resource for students well worth a Google. Rena Maguire @justrena

Rena describes herself as a “matured trainee archaeologist” as well as a “former media ‘ho”. I’d describe her as a very funny and informative Tweeter with a pretty unique view of the world. Check her out for the perspective of a “mature” Undergrad.

Henry Rothwell @HenryRothwell

Henry is the digital archaeologist behind which provides article upon article of fascinating archaeo-stuff. I tend to get very distracted reading his tweets, just for the sheer number of interesting links he puts up. Well worth a look. I approve of the beard.

Policing the Past @policingthepast

Slightly more serious one now. Policing the past is run by a former police officer with a fascination for sticky fingered (behave) antiquities enthusiasts. He regularly puts up links to police and news reports about stolen artefacts and anti-social behaviour linked to heritage sites. He’s a really useful source for essays on Public Archaeology.

Homo Erectus @PlioceneBloke

Ok, I understand that this one might come across as a little silly. But bear with me. Homo Erectus is the Twitter account of our early hominin ancestor. We don’t know how he got on Twitter, we don’t know how he’s speaking English. But what we do know is that he is brilliant, if a little unevolved. Definitely check out his website:


THE POWER OF PHENOMENOLOGY Imagine a single moment that resonates throughout time. Can you excavate a site, record the stratigraphy and eventually reconstruct this single moment using your strict scientific testing and techniques? This single moment will have a multitude of meanings to those involved, whatever the perspective may be. This moment is not just a person and their own emotions, but the emotions of those who may be directly or indirectly involved; it is the landscape in which they exist. And even then the landscape itself is more than just a cold heartless space; it is a place with an entire assortment of sensory overlays and feelings.


many archaeological journals and publications, apparently it shifts from the ridiculous to the most logical and ‘correct’ information. Phenomenology is one of the areas within archaeology that has incurred a great deal of criticism from those who refer to it as ‘pointless’ or ‘stupid’. I am of the opinion however that people only react like this because they are in fact intimidated by the powerful potential that phenomenology actually has. At the end of the day, the people who have the biggest problem with phenomenology and the culture based approach to archaeology are the scientists. Scientists strive for accurate and precise facts that must be checked and verified using complicated mathematical data analysis; they have no time for the The people who existed in the past were hu- ‘airy-fairy world of ambiguity and hippy mans; humans just like us. The human experi- philosophy’. In essence, they seem to believe ence has been successful due to the very fact that the past can only be assessed through absolutes and complicated theories. To take that humans have culture; it is the sensory this belief and boil it down to the actual truth and emotional experience that has shaped the very path of humanity. It is therefore utof the matter, it would seem that science has no place in the past what so ever. terly ridiculous to treat these past people as cold emotionless objects within a landscape, The past cannot be assessed through strict wouldn’t you agree? However, if you read

facts because it is simply impossible for us to truly understand the past. All we can do as archaeologists, anthropologists and historians is to make an informed interpretation on what the past was like. To argue that an entire society would ‘think’ or ‘believe’ a certain thing is horribly outdated and downright idiotic. Using that theory, you could argue that for example every British person agrees with the political views of the Conservative party, which as everyone knows, is most definitely incorrect. Different perspectives and different reactions to the world in which we live is the basis of our modern culture. So why therefore do people in the past all operate under one cognitive paradigm? Every single human is an individual in their own way; they each have their own feelings, looks, aspirations and dreams.

own personal experience from that snapshot of time. And of course, the stadium forms the nerve centre of the Olympic Park and all those within it feeding off the colossal energy from within. The Olympic Park sits proudly in London, with its own highly varied experiences of those watching or indeed not watching the event. London then sits as the capital of the United Kingdom; captivated by ‘Olympic fever’ of those who have taken days off work and sacrificed their usual active lifestyle for an ironically lazy day watching sport. And finally we have the rest of the world, made up of individual people in individual towns in individual countries. One moment. Billions of emotions and experiences. And all that from one single moment in a vibrant human existence. Why is it so hard to imagine that these same emotions and experiences would have been relevant in the past? Does the concept of multiple views and opinions in the past really scare scientists that much? So what if we cannot assign facts to the past? That very concept is the reason I love archaeology; I love that the past is full of billions of individuals that existed and interacted with all aspects of their world. Archaeology is not just an academic discipline; it’s a celebration of the vibrancy of the human experience in a world filled with emotions and senses. Part of the appeal is the sense of unknowing about the past; it is a huge void of people and landscapes that we can never dream of fully understanding. But I can tell you all now, the fact I will never find the absolute truth is the single driving factor in my quest to shed some light and new thinking on the way we look at the past.

So far, all I have done is constructed some controversial arguments and exploded into a world of scientific and philosophical theory. Having put forward my opinion, it is only fair that I provide some form of justification and proof of what I am talking about. And I have been blessed in that I am writing this article just after the closure of the greatest show on earth, the London 2012 Olympics. I have full respect for the person that believes that there was only one belief and one emotion and one experience of the entire games. Some people loved them, some people hated them – the variation of emotional responses and experiences were immense. Imagine Usain Bolt on the start line of the 100m final; a single moment in time. At that moment, imagine the rush of emotion concealed by rock solid nerves of Bolt himself. Add that to the other competitors who are racing an unbeatable legend of the athletics track. The emotional dynamics of the start line can hardly be confined to a single explanation. What more, what Olympics are Lewis Glynn complete without a stadium? The roar of the 80,000 people, whether spectators or those working; every single person will have their


Michael Foucault: Archaeologist


The name of Foucault is one that should be familiar to all self-respecting students of the social sciences. The post-modern master, S&M advocate, and contemplater of “power” was the face of French philosophy in the sixties and seventies, eclipsing the sanctified old order, as personified by Sartre and his existentialists. A philosopher as he may be, Foucault’s influence was far reaching, and he quickly became the bed-fellow of many a historian, archaeologist and anthropologist. Indeed, references to the man and his ideas purvey the archaeological and anthropological literature, especially where theory is concerned. A senior figure within the overarching blanket that is post-modernism, he was for a time associated with Marxism, and for another with the structuralism of Claude Levi-Strauss, although he remained impossible to pin down to one intellectual current for very long and

constantly attempted to evade categorisation. His life’s work instead largely surrounded one singular theme: the manner in which “power”, and those that wield it, distort and utilise “knowledge” in order to maintain social control.

and the United States. His instantly recognisable appearance and far left activism, along with his controversial personal life and publicised debates, meant that he was soon to become France’s best known public intellectual.

Born to the provincial petit bourgeoisie in 1926, Foucault showed academic excellence from an early age, and soon decided philosophy to be his life’s vocation. Travelling to Paris for a higher education, he immersed himself in the philosophy of medicine, focusing his attention on the very concept of “madness” and how it has been continuously controlled by societal elites. Moving from university to university in a teaching capacity, all the while his fame and notoriety increasing, he was never one to stay in the same place for too long, and his career saw him teaching in Sweden, West Germany, Poland, Tunisia

The biography of the man should not concern us too much here; what is most important, for our interests at least, is that Foucault was a self-proclaimed archaeologist. His oeuvre – an impressive collection of grandiose, sweeping tomes – consists of philosophical works bearing such titles as Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception (1963) and The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (1966). Despite this, he was never known to pick up a trowel, analyse a ceramic shard, or carbon date a charred seed. His archaeology was clearly not our archaeology.

The “Archaeology” of Foucault and what it means for us: So what exactly was this Foucauldian archaeology? I must stress that the link between the archaeology that is loved and loathed by the students of this Institute is a very different kettle of fish to the “archaeology” of this most eminent of Frenchman. The link is etymological, not literal. Foucault first talked of “archaeology” in his minor thesis, the second part of his doctorate, which offered an analysis of Kant’s Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1789); stripping away layers of text to reveal its stratigraphy, and the order in which it had been written, Foucault talked of an “archaeology of the text”, proclaiming that this would lead to the birth of a “homo criticus whose structure would be essentially different to that of the man who preceded him”. In another instance, he defined “archaeology” as “the science of the archive” which imbued a particular time period, or era. According to his ideas, there was a positive unconscious that underlay the conscious thought of all those in that era, influencing their interpretations and conclusions; were he to apply such ideas to our archaeology, for instance, he might argue that the postprocessualists of the latter part of the twentieth century had to proclaim their discipline to be innately subjective, because it was in that era’s positive unconscious to do so. (For more on this subject, I would recommend David Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, Hutchinson, 1993, pp. 161–163 as the most concise yet accessible overview). Some of those reading this short, meandering essay might wonder why on Earth any of this is at all relevant to the students of this department. They might have a point. However, I believe that there are some deeper issues at work here that are indeed pertinent to our understanding of our own discipline and its place in academia and indeed, wider society. Significantly, do we archaeologists have a monopoly on the word “archaeology”? Is it ours to do with as we please or must we share it, with postmodern philosophers or with anyone else who desires a slice of our terminological pie? The Oxford English Dictionary resolutely states that “archaeology” refers to “the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remains”. No mention of Foucault or any other possible definition; in the eyes of the OED, “archaeology” is for the dirt-digging archaeologists, and no-one else. We maintain control. At least for now. But how do we reconcile this assertion with the fact that others are clearly using the word “archaeology” to mean different things to that which we do? If others are using it for other means, does that imply that we no longer have sole control over it? We might hope, perhaps, that Foucault was a rare exception, that lonesome individual who stole “archaeology”, the title of our discipline – our very name – for his own purposes. Nevertheless, we would be wrong, and to prove this I must recourse to a brief anecdote. The summer before last, myself and two fellow Institute students – one now a defector to biological anthropology – stood in the heart of Soho chatting to David Hoyle, a prominent fixture of London’s avant-garde, as he expressed his interest in our particular area of study. Rather than announcing that he enjoyed watching Time Team or “always wanted to be an archaeologist”, as people so often seem to do, he began to discuss his love of L.S. Lowry, the Salfordian artist famed for his urban-scapes populated with “matchstalk men and matchstalk cats and dogs.” Hoyle talked of the layers of paint that Lowry applied to his canvas, and the manner in which the image changed and evolved as a result. He then talked of the way in which art restorers had used new technologies to reveal the evolution of the canvas, unveiling its acrylic stratigraphy and learning just how this particular image had progressed from a bleak, blank whiteness into a multi-layered,

bustling industrial scene. In essence, he talked of the “archaeology of the canvass.” As this anecdote should illustrate, Foucault was certainly not alone in making use of a definition of “archaeology” which was alien to our own conceptions of the term. Such alternate definitions are most probably not widespread in popular consciousness – for Foucault and Hoyle are hardly household names – but such definitions nevertheless do exist, even if the OED has yet to concede to their existence. This is something that we will undoubtedly have to deal with. Legacy and reflections: Foucault died on 25 June 1984, almost thirty years ago. He was an early victim of the AIDS epidemic then decimating all those communities who had so passionately embraced the utopian values of Free Love. But his legacy undeniably lived on. The bald-headed, bespectacled figure remains a cultural icon, one who is still being referenced and quoted in the writings of those working in disciplines such as anthropology and archaeology today, which are quite distinct from his own realm of philosophy. That in itself is surely significant; I see little or no references to Sartre, Althusser or Canguilhem in my prescribed course readings. Perhaps that is down to a selection bias, but it could also be down to the wide-ranging significance and interest in Foucault’s thought. I was admittedly hesitant about writing this article, primarily because I was unsure as to what purpose it would actually serve. However the founder-cum-editor of Artifact, the indomitable Ms Ellanskaya, was insistent that my meanderings were of some merit, and therefore any blame for its publication must rest squarely with her; I beg of you, let me off the hook. Such self-doubt, though hardly self-effacing on my behalf, must however be excised for now, for I do admit some belief that this short article might be of some worth to somebody out there. My hopes for what it might achieve, within the relatively small Bloomsbury-based readership that it will obtain, are twofold. First, I hope that it has brought Foucault to wider attention among the young, studious archaeologists of this institution, who are, after all, here to learn. I’m a great admirer of Foucault; he could be narcissistic, rude and worst of all, downright shoddy in his historical methodology, but he was a singular genius and undoubtedly one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century. The Nietzschean fire that burned within him led this man – socially disadvantaged by his homosexuality and his vocal adoration of sado-masochism – to reach great heights in academia and topple the status of some of the greatest minds of the era. For all that he has done, I really do think that he deserves to be better known. Second, I hope that I have spurned some people out there to think a little deeper about what the word “archaeology” really means; a pointless pursuit some might say, but I would like to think that it is a little more than mere intellectual masturbation, and has some real-life application. There may come a time, within our lifespans, when the word “archaeology” is embraced by increasing numbers of academic endeavours besides our own, and these definitions might also be taken up by the general public. I do hope that we will not be caught unawares if this day ever decides to come. Ethan Doyle White


As proposals are released to build atheist temples across the UK, Holly Brentnall explores the idea that lab coats could be exchanged for clerical vestments, as social science provides the moral and social supplements for atheists in need. Is it not beauteous to think that we are the product of stardust, carried on the infinite wake of a violent explosion originating at one single point of concentrated matter? From the Big Bang onwards we evolved and spread like bacteria in a Petri dish, premising the inevitable chaos of our sociality. Now, as we are born upon the fluctuating slipstream of cosmopolitan society, striking individualism intercepts vibrant traditionalism and accumulates as a glistening froth of cultural variability. The two products of human activity persistently taking stance at the forefront of this cascade

are science and religion. The possibility of atheism and religion existing harmoniously is greatly inhibited by virulent opposition of advocates of the two. Richard Dawkins, the most prominent atheist of our times, condemns religion as “the brain virus of faith,” reading aloud hate-mail from reproachful Christians with scorn and contempt. The sociologist Emile Durkheim compared the evolution of religion to a delirium: “The more it develops the more it eludes observation and the possibility of treatment”. Similarly, Sigmund Freud construed religion as the universal neurosis, keeping the population in a perpetual child-like state of illusion and serving only to hamper the development of the promising young buds of reality-based science. In the 19th Century, J. G. Frazer went to arduous lengths documenting the beliefs and practices

of every pre-recorded ‘primitive’ society, culminating in the beautifully written but nonsensical work The Golden Bough. In it he sets out an evolutionary model, according to which religion and magic are merely superstition and error, whilst science is the most advanced stage humanity can reach.

Is Science the New Religion?

Magic and witchcraft, like religion, are perceived as antagonistic to science. The Azande of Zandeland believe that witchcraft is based upon the idea that the ability to hate is innate to all human beings, and therefore human emotions can be pointed to as the cause of any act of misfortune. This then entails a resolution for social tensions within a community. Peter Winch argued against Evans Pritchard’s rational for African witchcraft, that the Azande have no concept equivalent to science and that magical beliefs could and should be disproven by the reasoning and logic of science. The Azande however also possess a technical understanding like science of how events occur, witchcraft simply provides the reason for why they happen. Here technical science and spirituality appear as two distinct entities. But the fact that science and religion persistently stand head to head as opposed topics of debate, suggests that the two are equivalents and mutually exclusive, as if one must choose between the two. Today in Cameroon witchcraft healing traditions are used to compliment western biological medicine, as an alternative medicine to help cure mental illness. Marx saw religion as an opiate, for Johnathan Miller it is an amphetamine and for Nigel Snidey, professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford, religion is an anaesthetic. Through obsessive fieldwork and analysis of the Trobriand islanders of the Western Pacific, Stanislaw Malinowski made the deduction that magical beliefs fulfilled a psychological need. Here, despite differences, we see another context in which science, and more specifically psychology or social science is construed as the equivalent of spirituality. When evolutionary theory first brought Biblical narratives into question, Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead, and Freud diagnosed religion as a mass form of neurosis. Meanwhile, the North Atlantic view of the world was shrouded by a cultural veil woven by historic change and industrial discovery. Where religion once ruled the new religion of science repudiated belief in God. The fact Richard Dawkins was fondled by his Catholic Latin master is also likely to have played a large part in prejudicing his perception of faith. More to the point, are denunciations of religion in the name of science of any use to us?

Where religion and science are each other’s contemporary and when each act as an explanation for the modern world at any point in time, what use is it to pronounce that one version of the truth is more truthful than another? In the UK today, religion is distinguished from the natural and social sciences less for providing answers and more for its moral codes, rituals and social character. The religion of science leaves us in a moral void. Yet this one distinction is contradicted by one striking phenomenon of the post-modern era; recent plans to build a network of atheist temples across the country. When complete, sermons will take the form of philosophical lectures and rituals such as weddings and baptisms will be conducted for free and without the need to gain the reluctant admittance of a Christian or Anglican priest. With the collaborative effort of architects Tom Greenall and Jordan Hodgson, the London temple will be constructed from every kind of stone scaling the geological timeline and will be encircled at its base by a line of gold no more than 1mm thick to represent man’s time on earth in relation to the rest of the planet’s existence. In light of these developments an interesting thought experiment is to consider further parallels of religion and science. Alain de Botton, philosopher and founder of the project Temples for atheists, argues that whilst “religions are hierarchically structured”, his idea is “all about thinking for yourself and not having a central authority”. However, aside from the argument that religion allows for individual interpretation too, if his project is to provide “community, beauty, sympathy, kindness” and “a moral structure” then surely religious believers would agree with me that this house of philosophy will share fundamental commonalities with a religious institution. Richard Dawkin’s objection to the project is that “there are better things to spend this kind of money on. You could improve secular education and build non-religious schools which teach rational, sceptical critical thinking”. This last comment encroaches even further across the boundaries of the suggestion that universities and schools already take the form of a church. Lectures take the form of sermons, as lecturers stand like enlightened preachers before a

congregation of converts to their discipline. Knowledge is like the spirit, living on beyond the grave, while the grand halls of learning are like cathedrals in their majesty. Children in South East Asia learn by methods of chanting and recital, rocking backwards and forwards in a manner evocative of Buddhist meditation. Many studies of the sixties showed how religion and cultural background of ethnic minorities in the states made children incompatible with predominantly Christian education systems, again reinforcing the idea of mutual exclusivity and equivalence. The metaphor can even be reversed as religious sects in the US worship in the same style as academic debate and just as scientists look for evidence to support theories, Biblical hermeneutics involves finding proof in the natural world that concords with Biblical narratives. Faith is integral to both belief in God and belief in scientific theory. Possibilities for equivalents to God are also worth exploring. Disciplines seem to venerate the core element of their study. Sociologist Emile Durkheim pronounced the object of worship to be society itself, and I have heard economists at LSE speak of technological, economic barons such as Bill Gates as Godlike figures in their wealth and influence. In sum, secular education and religion share fundamental commonalities in their social structure and habits. In this age of information, the atheist temples proffer a religion of social science and finally promise to provide an official moral structure and rituals for atheists. As science shakes off tenuous metaphor to become religion’s replica, we find ourselves propelled ever onwards on the chaotic slipstream of sociality and perhaps finally can sight the end to a long and pointless debate between religion and science, accepting that the two share one unfathomable element: human nature.

Holly Brentnall


Alternative Celebrities

The shaman of Siberia It was during my summer fieldwork in Siberia this year that I found myself in the middle of nowhere, in Tuva. Five plane hours away from Moscow and another fifteen hours away by bus, and I am in the timeless land of yurts, steppes and mountain spirits. The landscape of Tuva is meagre and full of nomadic asceticism, if only illuminated by the lucky sunny spells of August to reveal its vast beautiful freedom and hologramic volume of mountain folds. Within this dizzying emptiness it is hard not to notice those piled up heaps


of flat rocks that occasionally mark the hills around. Ovaa are nothing other than man-made sacred sites for the spirits, which form part of the Tuvan syncretism of shamanism and Buddhism. Though you somehow become quickly aware of Tuvan shamanism from what you hear and see, it seems hard to find a real living shaman today. Since 1930s decades of Soviet “housekeeping” in the Republic have somehow wiped away about 725 shamans... It’s not my goal here to go into the “mysterious” background of this

religious cleansing. What matters for us here, is that the local girls have somewhat reluctantly slipped in our conversations that they were still holding occasional sessions with shamans, consulting over one small thing or another. My curiosity could not resist. One such session I eventually had a chance to be in myself. The exclusive and secretive nature of our trip (with regards to the rest of the camp population) no doubt spiced up our expectations to pursue spiritual food or mere travel tales.

Having stayed behind from a day of digging of the Scythian graves, several of us take a mini bus and soon stop by a simple wooden house in the sparse urban cluster of Kyzyl. The shaman is casually sitting on the bench outside, in his “citizen” clothes, alerted by the audience greedy for miracles of some kind. He asks us to form a queue and disappears inside. He is clairvoyant, we are told, and so he takes his time to think about us in his own space. Waiting for my turn, I couldn’t help feeling bad for having come there, both due to the exclusivity of my luck, and for expecting to take something away from this old man - a revelation of my life of some kind, surely to follow from his telepathic abilities. In this strange queue of clients all I have is a jar of reciprocal strawberry jam I have prepared as a gift - something that the old man likes or so I heard. Then it’s my turn, and I am inside and nervous, filling in a form with my brief details, as I feel pressured by the tense concentration of the shaman, whose semi-blind eyes are looking through me. It was like being at some alien doctor’s appointment, without any idea of which bizarre potential treatment or diagnosis to expect. Kenin-Lopsan is very old and quiet, taking out a pile of finger-tip sized green stones. We exchange questions, and he gives me answers, based on some obscure wisdom of the green stones laid out in neat piles. There is little chance to say anything unless asked by him, and he constantly asks me to confirm that I understand. Eventually, I leave smiling and sate with my new absurd knowledge: I am a horse! With its many obscure implications, and some recommendations for my future, I promised to send him a birthday card to Kyzyl, like he asked, complaining over the lack of attention he gets these days, especially on his eighty-something birthdays, which people have indeed lost count of, while he keeps inventing his age for every new visitor he gets. I left Mongush with his version of my life-myth programming me to go on in my ways. It was an excellent feeling. The little information I gave to him as he hushed me down in a patronizing but necessary way, tailored a divination broad enough to keep me happy with any potential slight divergences. And it did. The beauty of the green stones seemed to be in the revelational definition I now had as a horse, the implications of which I am probably yet to discover. With some others leaving the house in tears, my message must have been a happy one. A horse is also an important national symbol here: part of the Tuvan coat of arms and a sacred animal to ancient Scythians, from which much of the modern culture still stems. Broken down into the secular language it meant such prospects as being a “doer”, an actor in my life, and other things may or may not have followed from it, such as good marriage,

relationships and satisfaction in my chosen career path. What was not to like? Born to indigenous Tuvan hunter father and a storyteller mother in a family of fifteen siblings, Mongush was exposed to the world of fables, myths and parables ever since his inception in the land of the yurts. Here he learned the sacred idioms and epic fables, which must have led him to become the writer, Doctor of history, ethnographer, poet and shaman that he is today. Many of those familiar to divination would agree that myths are a pivotal part of shamanistic mind frame. After all they say there is only ever a limited amount of scenarios that a story can take. I think this could also apply to the everyday, which makes shamanism not so magical, but essentially charming in its erudition. Strangely, this knowledge does not seem to come from any apocalyptic exposure to everything in the world, where as if before our final dying minute, the whole range of diversity comes back in a mad flashback. Tuva, in fact, is one of the most isolated parts in the world. There has never really been anything there in a Western sense: petite houses, no train links (yet), basic economy, with many people still living in yurts, and reliance on herding in the endless coniferous forests in the north and steppes in the south. It is here that, Mongush claims, shamanism has been preserved in its originality due to its natural isolation. Many have embarked on a long journey here, including Western ethnographers, politicians and adventure seekers. Spiritual food is not always the goal, yet Mongush refers to the ancient Tuvan tradition, which he believes converts or affects everyone here: when in distress, one should go on a long journey. Civilisation, from which these people come, is potential stress, or, one could say, distress, and so they always leave somewhat transformed. He is truly no ordinary man, no ordinary shaman. As I land back in Moscow weeks later, I find nothing other than a random book of Siberian photography with its editor’s thanks to my modest old shaman, who lacks attention... He proudly admits that he has made his career by not making one. Having passed through a variety of jobs as a lecturer, editor and museum staff, he is today the Head shaman of Tuva for life, while his fellow course mates took up some important jobs in the lush St.Petersburgh, where he studied. And it seems that his dream to keep shamanism alive and kicking has come true after all. And so as the steel cosmic ships roam through the infinite reaches of the Universe, there is still a place for shamanism in our hearts. Kenin-Lopsan is one of the very few people in the world, awarded by the American Foundation of Shamanic Studies as a Living Treasure of Shamanism. Eugenia Ellanskaya


Archaeologists Anonymous 3 Hilbre View Mornant Avenue Ffynnongroyw FLINTSHIRE CH8 9UL United Kingdom


Artifact recommends: Archaeologists Anonymous Project We have recently stumbled upon this and thought it looked tremendously fun! Stacey Hickling of the IoA is one of the three enthusiasts behind the idea. Unlike many verbose opinions on the subject of archaeology expressed backstage over a pint or what not, these guys have turned it into an elegant and exciting activity of postcards sending. With many opinions voiced, Archaeologists Anonymous is getting a neat and satisfying collection of heart-warming and exorcing responses from both experts and amateurs from around the world. They hope that cards will help to provoke sober discussions in the future of our ambiguous field. So why not equip yourself with a pair of scissors and some creativity, shut down your cyborg energy supplies: ipads, laptops, netbooks, whatever they are, and get heard! What are your hopes and fears for the future of archaeology? Simply, buy a postcard and remake its front image to express your opinion however you wish. “There are too many doctoral programmes producing too many PhDs for the job market” “The past is lost to the future” “I’m afraid that a big scary monster will come up from behind archaeology, surprise it then eat it alive” “Short-sighted government cuts go unquestioned” “I fear that the popular will defeat the serious” If all the effort of making a card simply causes a cyborgian freak out in you, you can contact Hilary Orange, James Dixon, Paul Graves-Brown and Stacey Hickling on Not sure they will accept postcards via this, yet the very genre of an Anonymous society could hint at the healing power of the curators for all your emotional digger pains. Also, get inspired by the past cards online at


cuisine deals. IKEA could provide for all the family, and every need was met. This was a privilege not just for the bourgeois though; these were prices that the everyman could afford.

The beginning of this academic year was not just a flurry of Freshers’ events and module selections. For many students, including myself, this term started with a new step into adulthood. It was time to move from the cotton-wool covered cupboards that are university halls out into the real world. I have been very lucky with my new home, a surprisingly charming four-bedroom house in north London with a garden, a lounge and no mice (yet). Though with these semi-grownup abodes, there is always at first a sense of bleakness, as the sparse kitchen utensils and moth-eaten sofas are not quite enough to live with. But with limited student loans, high unemployment rates and an economic crisis, how can a penniless student turn their house into a proper home? There is only one solution: IKEA. Of course, it is interesting in itself that people feel the need to have a ‘real’ home, as if the space they occupy is somehow incomplete simply due to a lack of ‘things’. These items are not essential for existence, but are instead the little extra material possessions that seem to transform a room from the impersonal to the personal. These can range from postcards printed in Paris, to cactuses collected in chutney jars. But bookcases, bed linen, bean bags, bedside tables and bins are all elements that can change how a person sees their home, and even how happy they are living in it. And though money can’t buy happiness, in a strange way it really did feel like my IKEA purchases could make my world just a little brighter.

In fact, though there was some religious reverence within its walls, IKEA did seem to be a shrine to the concept of the ‘ideal home’. This was a place that an individual could shape themselves and their lives in, through the items in their possession. The store promised salvation, it could cater to the contemporary need for material consumption and satiate any thirst for things. With a range of different prices and styles, it did not exclude, but delivered to every different desire and need. IKEA could make living easier. IKEA could make a good life great. And if it still was not great enough after numerous purchases, then there is always the option to just come back and buy more. Maybe I am looking into this whole thing too much. Huge generalisations have been made throughout this article. There are plenty of people who have had very stressful trips to the store, especially during the post-Christmas sales. Also, I am fairly sure that I find frolicking in fake studio flats more fun than most. It could well be that this article reveals more about what I value in my life, than in the global chain of IKEA, and how individual people interact with this economic giant. IKEA may not be an adult playground or a contemporary church that promises salvation to the masses in the shape of trinkets, but simply a convenient and affordable furniture store. Who knows? But one thing I’m sure of: if I don’t get a RITVA blanket for Christmas I’m going to be very disappointed.

Ruthy Mason

In fact, the whole shopping experience at IKEA was strangely fun. Trips to department stores are often seen as great laborious chores, filled with overpriced items, maze-like aisles and other disgruntled customers. But not at IKEA, where people seemed to relax and even regress a little, playing with the frighteningly perfect model studio flats. I could not help but enter into the childlike excitement, and much to my flatmates’ horror I spent the majority of the afternoon testing out the wide selection of spinny chairs. IKEA isn’t just a big playground for grown-ups though, and the shop was equipped with a children’s play area as well as toys throughout the shop and family friendly


Interview with Matt Symonds Dr. Matt Symonds , the man who can ask for a trowel in five different languages, consult the Guardian on the latest British archaeology, maintain an undying fanaticism over Hadrian’s wall happens to also be...the reigning editor of Current Archaeology. Formerly also an editor of Current World Archaeology (a sister magazine of CA), a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University and a co-editor of Frontiers of Knowledge: A Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall, Matt is a passionate expert and a vibrant human being – a true inspiration for those pursuing a dream in public archaeology. Having said that, let’s meet the man himself!


For those who don’t know you, describe yourself in three words. Hadrian’s Wall obsessive Who were your heroes growing up? Sherlock Holmes and the Looney Tunes Road Runner. Admittedly that Road Runner makes a really annoying noise, but no matter what befalls him, he always lands on his feet. Who wouldn’t want a superpower like that? What made you decide to study archaeology? I always loved being out in the countryside and exploring ancient ruins, like Hadrian’s Wall. Then Time Team showed me you could do it as a career. And it was okay to have terrible dress sense. I was instantly sold. What was your undergrad experience at Nottingham University like? Do you feel that Christ Church master’s has given you a crucial boost to becoming you? I’ve been really lucky with universities. Nottingham and Christ Church were both amazing, but in completely different ways. Thinking about Nottingham always makes me grin because I had the time of my life. It was so much fun. But it also cemented my love of archaeology. I started out thinking I’d spend 3 years studying a subject I enjoyed. By the end I was committed for life. Christ Church was the next step. Every week I had one-to-one tutorials with world experts and if they didn’t like what I’d written they’d rip it to shreds in my face. It’s the most intellectually terrifying thing I’ve ever done, but turned out to be great experience for life as a magazine editor. Which digs have you been involved in? I’ve been involved in quite a few excavations. One of my favourites was a student excavation in Bulgaria run by Andrew Poulter at Nottingham. We students were paired up and lived with local villagers in their houses. Hot water came from firing up Pompeii-style boilers, while the toilets were holes dug in the back garden. It was a very different way of life, but the locals were so friendly and the archaeology was fascinating too. We’ve heard you had a long relationship with CA since your teenage years. It must be like a dream come true. How do you feel about your job as an editor of CA today? It’s a very strange feeling. I started subscribing to Current Archaeology when I was 15 or 16,

after an archaeologist told me that if I was serious about the subject, this was the magazine I needed to read. For many years I had a secret ambition to get an article published in Current Archaeology, but it never even occurred to me that one day I might be its editor. I hope that on my watch archaeologists will still be telling impressionable 15 year olds that this is the magazine to get. To be honest I can’t think of anything else I was interested in as a 15-yearold that I’d want a job in now.

and above all go to conferences and meet the people who are in a position to give you more opportunities. If you can impress them it’ll really help. Even then you have to be prepared to try your hand at lots of different things. I did short-term contracts working as an archaeological lecturer, researcher, writer, editor, excavator, tour guide, data enterer, and glorified tea boy before I got a proper job. There were some difficult times, but it was worth it.

What is the highlight of your job that would make aspiring archaeologists burn with jealousy? I haven’t had to fill out a context sheet for over 2 years. But the best thing is being able to visit sites while they’re being excavated and talk to the director about why the results are so important. It’s a real privilege and I’m learning all the time. I’ve enjoyed every site visit, but one that stands out is the Cambridge Archaeological Unit excavation at Must Farm near Peterborough. One morning I got to stand on the bank of the River Nene as it was in 1300 BC. The channel was choked with Bronze Age weirs, fish traps, abandoned boats, and metalwork. Willow tree stumps were even preserved on the river bank. It felt like time travel – truly jaw dropping!

Is it true that you once considered a path in academia instead? Any chance we would see you in a lecture theatre one day? A doctorate is designed to teach you the skills necessary for a research career. I think that most people who do them have at least one eye on becoming an academic. It was definitely something I was very interested in. But I do still get to give lectures – that’s one of the great things about having such a varied job.

Why did you choose British archaeology? Is there a particular part of British archaeology that is dear to your heart? Did I mention Hadrian’s Wall? It’s one of the most spectacular archaeological monuments on the planet. It also has the datasets we need to answer fundamental research questions. As the gateway to the province, Hadrian’s Wall is the key to understanding Roman Britain. There is nowhere better suited to teasing out the interaction between Rome and the indigenous population. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. What would your key tips be for surviving in the world of archaeology and taking it as a career choice? There’s no shortage of talented people chasing archaeological jobs, and you have to be able to compete with them. In his book Becoming an Archaeologist Joe Flatman stresses the importance of persevering, and I think he’s right. You also have to grab the opportunities you’re given and try to develop as many skills as possible. Give papers at conferences or student seminars, try to get articles published

What are your plans for the future? I don’t know really. I’m always too busy thinking about the past. We have heard an exciting rumour of the upcoming archaeology based conference next spring. Seeing how things are going behind the scenes, what would you say we can expect from Current Archaeology live! 2013? (Is there any chance of studentfriendly deals at all?) Current Archaeology Live 2013 will be, as always, an amazing opportunity to hear world experts talking about the most exciting discoveries in the UK – and further afield – in a really enjoyable way. It’ll be held at Senate House in London on the 1st and 2nd of March and we’re doing a special deal for readers of Artifact. For only £35 you get two days of cutting-edge archaeological entertainment, and a drinks reception on Friday night. Do come along, you’ll learn lots and have fun too. It’d be great to see you there.

Matt was talking to Eugenia Ellanskaya

What is Archaeology Live, anyway!? Current Archaeology Live! is Current Archaeology magazine’s annual archaeology conference, and 2013’s instalment will take place on the 1st and 2nd of March at the Senate House. The conference aims to bring you the best of archaeology in Britain and abroad, presented by experts in the field who are ready to share the very latest research. It also plays host to the Current Archaeology Awards, which recognise and celebrate the most exciting and innovative projects and books that feature throughout the previous year. Non-subscriber tickets are £125, and subscriber tickets are £79, but Artifact readers are being given an exclusive offer of £35 per ticket. If you also want to subscribe to Current Archaeology, you can take out an annual subscription (usually £44) as well as pick up a ticket for a total of £60. Either call 020 8819 5580, or place your order online at, quoting code ‘CONF13UU’. Tickets will be sold starting from the 1st of November onwards


Cover photos by Lewis Glynn

Artifact issue 6  

Is Science the new religion? Undergound archaeology, powerful phenomenology, alternative celebrities and much more

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