Digital Archaeology with kebabs

Dr. Collen Morgan
Daniel Eddisford

We have a double dose of stimulating discussion in this week’s podcast. Well, a triple dose-actually. Dr. Colleen Morgan, a Lecture at the University of York, and Daniel Eddisford, the Field Director for “The Origins of Qatar and Doha Project,” join us to discuss digital archaeology and fieldwork. Accompanying them is their 16-month-year-old daughter, Tamsin.  There is cuteness explosion at the end of the interview that is worth the wait!

We could spend hours talking with these two. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience that gets you thinking about where archaeology is heading and the issues that archaeologist face with the ever-changing and expanding technology we all face on a daily basis.

The interview ends with a delicious kebab recipe presented by Daniel.  He adds a couple of other recipes into the mix to cultivate a fascinating and authentic meal. Enjoy!

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Underwater archaeology, public outreach, photogrammatry, and fish soup

Max Ditta (center), the Holy Diver of Archaeology.

Massimiliano Ditta may not be the Holy Diver, but we think he is pretty close and pretty awesome. Max works at the Stavanger Maritime Museum as one of their talented and hardworking underwater archaeologists. We are lucky to chat with him and hear about his passion for everything under the sea!  Max provides us with a detailed account of his work and the work that takes place below sea-level out of sight from us terrestrial dwellers.  It’s a fascinating talk, and he gives us a real clear picture of the challenges of their world and work.

As a Sicilian, Max is no stranger to good food and cooking. We talk a little bit about his food culture in Sicily and the influences on Sicilian food. Max adds a new dynamic to our knowledge or lack of knowledge about Sicilian culture.  Finally, he shares with us a straightforward but delicious fish soup recipe. This dish is perfectly timed for those of us heading into the darkness of winter!

Max’s Fish Soup recipe:


  • 150 gr butter
  • 60 gr plain flour
  • 500 ml vegetable stock and 100-200 ml of fish stock
  • 1-medium carrot, finely chopped in cubes
  • 1 big yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped in cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 200 gr of Crab meat or Shrimps
  • 200 gr of Scallops or any other mussel (if using scallops, chopped in cubes)
  • 400 gr of Cod or any other white fish, chopped in cubes (2 cm)
  • 500 ml heavy cream
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • chopped fresh Basil
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper

In a pot, melt 100 gr of butter, add the flour, and stir for about 2 minutes without browning the flour.

Add the cream, the fish stock, and the vegetable stock at intervals, stirring all the time until the sauce is thickened but creamy. Add more or less stock to correct the thickness (but use all the cream ). Let it boil gently for 5-10 minutes.

In a sauce pan, melt the rest of the butter and sauté the carrots, the onions, the garlic, and the celery, for approx. 10 minutes. Add the fish and the scallops, and simmer until the fish start to fall apart. Close the heat and add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, add salt and pepper too.

Poor everything in the pot with the white sauce, add also the crab meat or shrimps. Simmer for another 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the parsley and basil to taste

Serve with a good loaf of bread, and a glass of white wine from Veneto


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Canine evolution with an Aperol aperitif

Dr. Bridgett von Holdt
Dog lover, evolutionary biologist, and a very cool person Dr. Bridgett von Holdt

What do canine evolution and an Aperol aperitif have in common? Absolutely nothing and we don’t care! Join us for today’s exciting guest, Dr. Bridgett von Holdt. Bridgett is an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University and an expert in canine evolution.

Whether you are a dog lover or not this is a fascinating interview with someone who breaks down a complex topic like evolution for the layperson. You’ll feel smarter after our interview with Bridgett!

Finally, Bridgett shares with us her introduction to Aperol after a trip to Germany. Summer is still here so take her advice and try some Aperol before it’s too late! Winter is coming!! (Sorry, I’m a GoT fan)

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Alaska edition: community archaeology and wild salmon

Madison Dapcevich
Honorary archaeologist and TV reporter/producer, Madison Dapcevich

Community archaeology is the topic of today’s podcast. We chat with Madison Dapcevich, a journalist and TV reporter/producer out of KECI Montana. Madison wrote her MA thesis about a community archaeology project in her home state of Alaska. If you want to understand the power and benefits of getting a community involved in archaeology, then you should have a listen!

Next, we chat about her father’s  deliciously simple salmon recipe. If you can get your hands on some wild salmon, you need to give this recipe a go!

I’ve also been curious about Alaskan life. On today’s program, Madison provides us with her personal stories of growing up Alaskan. Apparently, all those TV programs about Alaska are accurate!

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Viking age cats, Tex-Mex, and learning how to cook in the field.

Ph.D. candidate Brenda Prehal and noted cat lover!

Today, it is a cat episode! So, for all of you cat lovers out there, please tune in to hear CUNY Ph.D. student Brenda Prehal talk about her fascinating research about cats in Iceland.

We talk about her research and other work in Iceland. And, we also talk a little about life as a graduate student.

Working at Ingiridarstadir with the great Howell Roberts.

Brenda shares with us her new adventures into cooking. Dominos and Subway were no longer an option for her. She found the courage to face her cooking avoidance and decided to jump in the deep end of the pool. Today, she shares with us her dish of Arroz con Pollo!

Cat love!

Today’s recipe: Arroz con Pollo!

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 skinless/boneless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
7 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa
Combine the salt, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper and chili powder in a plastic gallon bag. Shake until the mixture is well combined. Pat the chicken dry and place in the bag with the spice mixture. Shake the bag, making sure the chicken is well coated. Heat the oil in a high-sided skillet over high. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onion & red peppers and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Sweat the vegetables over medium heat, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the rice and garlic and cook until the rice begins to turn gold in color and fragrant, about 1 minute. Meanwhile, combine the stock, salsa and remaining teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Then add to the skillet and make sure the rice is covered in liquid. Nestle the chicken in the rice, adding any juices from the plate. Bring the rice to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender, and most of the liquid is absorbed about 30 minutes. Let the skillet stand covered, about 10 minutes before serving.

Add salsa, sour cream, and shredded Mexican cheese to taste when serving.

Original recipe from

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The Sotra Project, Finnish fish soup, and public outreach in archaeology

Dr. Kristin Ilves, archaeologist and expert at reaching out to the public.

Today, we have a variety of topics to discuss. Dr. Kristin Ilves joins us to talk about a very large and comprehensive archaeological project underway on the west-coast of Norway. The Sotra Project, lead by Leif Inge Astveit from the University of Bergen Museum, is currently recovering and recording archaeological remains from the early mesolithic to the late neolithic. This project, like many across Norway,  is part of a road expansion project taking place just outside of Bergen.

Stone-age expert, project leader, and all-round-cool guy Leif Inge Astveit (center) giving one of his inspiring motivational speeches to his crew.

Kristin’s role on the project is to develop, execute, and coordinate public outreach. She’s using social media as one platform to reach out to the public with a lot of success. Kristin’s been making and publishing videos documenting the excavation but also interviewing the archaeologists working on the project. It’s a great way for the general public to find out more about what archaeologists do. On a side note, this is an exciting time in archaeology because of all the new technology and social media platforms archaeologists have at our disposal to reach to the public. You should have a listen and check out the Sotra project on the link provided below!

Archaeologists are removing uncooperative and hard to get at turf. This task is probably one of the more physically demanding jobs archaeologists perform.
Test-pitting at the Sotra Project to determine the extent of the area to excavate.

Finally, Kristin shares with us a famous Finnish fish soup recipe. She discovered when doing fieldwork in Finland. For Kristin, this dish is not only easy and delicious it’s filled with fond memories! Awww…the beauty of food!

Project link!!!

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Across the North Atlantic with Spinach Artichoke dip.

Elizabeth Pierce
Dr. Elizabeth Pierce at Calanais, Isle of Lewis.

Dr. Elizabeth Pierce takes time from her hectic summer schedule to talk with us about her research into the Medieval period of the North Atlantic and her work as a lecturer.

In the first part of the interview, she takes us to Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands as we discuss her dissertation research. Elizabeth was examining the differences of Norse culture at the periphery. It is a fascinating talk about the cultural diversity across the North Atlantic.

A picture of the stones from the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney.


Next, she talks about her work as a lecturer aboard cruise ships. We’ve all heard about this excellent job. I always thought it was a fairy tale told to us in graduate school, but it’s true. Unlike unicorns, this position does exist, and Elizabeth has one! All kidding aside, Elizabeth works hard at bringing history alive for the folks aboard these ships. It’s a great story as she talks about her visit to Greenland.

Hvalsey church from southwestern Greenland.
The grave site where the Franklin expedition overwintered the first year at Beechey Island in Nunavut, Canada.

Finally, Elizbeth parts with her treasured spinach and artichoke dip. Apparently, this dip has made its way across most of the North Atlantic. I’ll be sure to make here in Norway!

The week’s recipe:

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
¼ C. mayonnaise
1 C. grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ C. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl in order listed. Put in an oven-safe dish and bake in a 350 degree oven until hot.

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Neolithic China, beer making, and rice wine.

Jiajing Wang
Jiajing Wang, archaeologist and craft beer icon.

Here is the episode to get your drink on! Stanford University Ph.D. student Jiajing Wang speaks with us today about her research into beer making and fermentation practices during the Neolithic in China. We spoke with her in China as she was finishing up some research. This is a great talk about the earliest evidence of beer making. Or, should we call it the earliest evidence of craft beer making?! Regardless, she has a lot of information for us to digest!

Jiajing examining a ceramic vessel for sampling.

We also chat about what is going on within Chinese archaeology. There seems to be an explosion of archaeological work being done within China and outside China. For those of you who have an interest in Chinese archaeology, this is the episode for you!

Finally, Jiajing shares with us a very simple and effective way to make rice wine. This is a perfect little science experiment you can do from home! Hope you all enjoy it!

Rice wine recipe:

2 cups of glutinous rice, 1 wine yeast ball (also called qu or jiuqu in Mandrin)
1. Soak the rice for an hour
2. Steam the rice for 25 min
3. Crush the yeast ball
4. Combine the yeast powder and the rice
5. Place the rice in an airtight container
6. Store the rice in a warm place (100 degrees F or 38 degrees C)
7. Taste the wine after a few days (the taste of the wine changes the longer it ferments. )

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Lentil balls, Neolithic Turkey, and construction of the past

Burcu Tung
Dr. Burcu Tung (photo by Scott Haddow)

Today we have a packed episode full of the intricacies of being an archaeologist and how broad the field really is. We are thankful to speak with Dr. Burcu Tung from Stanford University about her work in archaeology, her contribution to the field through her research and Burcu shares with us her Grandma’s lentil ball recipe.

Burcu is a site supervisor at the famous archaeological site of Catal Hoyuk in Turkey. For those who don’t know this, Catal Hoyuk is a Neolithic site located in Turkey that dates back to 7500 B.C. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site which means it is pretty damn important to global heritage. No this isn’t a new world order conspiracy it’s totally true! One thing I’d like to point out is Burcu began her field experience on this site back in 1998 so it’s safe to say she has a real connection and interesting perspective about Catal Hoyuk.

South Shelter (Photo by Jason Quinlan)

We also have a conversation about her latest book project. She and a colleague (Flora Keshgegian) are looking into how people construct their past through their memories and heritage. They are specifically looking at Turkish and Armenian identities. This is a really fascinating talk. Archaeology isn’t always about literally digging up stuff from the past. We do spend a lot of time thinking about real world issues as well.

Finally, I forgot to tell Burcu that this was a cooking podcast so I made no mention about the recipe exchange at the end of the podcast. To her credit, Burcu pulled out her Grandmother’s Anatolian lentil ball recipe. It simple and sounds delicious! I had a great time chatting with Burcu about this recipe and food culture from the region. Hope you enjoy it!

Burcu’s recipe: Lentil Bites (Mercimek Köftesi)

1 C red lentils
1L water
2 C fine bulgur (or cracked wheat)
1 onion, finely chopped
1.5 T tomato paste
1.5 T pepper paste (optional, if you don’t have this use more tomato paste)
1 t black pepper
1 t red pepper
Salt to taste
1/3 – 1/2 C olive oil
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch of dill, finely chopped
2 T pomegranate juice (sour) (optional)
1-2 T cumin
juice of 1 lemon

Bring lentils to boil in 1 L water, simmer until cooked (they need to become very soft and mushy)
Add the bulgur into the pot, close its lid and wait for 30 min for the bulgur to ‘steam’
Sautee the onions with a little bit of olive oil. Once the onions are cooked add the tomato/pepper paste and cook for 5 mins.
Add onion/tomato paste onto the lentils.
Add al other ingredients.
Mix with hands.
Check on salt and olive oil, be generous with both.
Make little oval balls in your hand and serve with lettuce.

Afiyet Olsun! (it translates to bon apetit)

Oh – and this link has a nice picture of how the lentil balls should look like


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Kentucky bourbon balls and public history

Jenny Holly, public historian, and proud Kentuckian!

Jenny Holly is a public historian and proud Kentuckian,  who chats with us today about her interesting project into the medical history of Lexington, Kentucky. The healthcare industry in Lexington goes back to the late 1700s and is still an important part of the local economy. We learn about this history and about the various individuals who over the years created this medical landscape of Lexington. By the way, she is doing this all in her spare time!

What is a public historian you ask?  Jenny answers that question by enlightening us about the important function and the role public historians have in our communities. Public historians are the individuals bringing their love and passion for history straight to the public. They educate and connect us to the places we know and call home.

Jenny Holly dropping some knowledge!

How does this relate to archaeology? Well, archaeologists aren’t always digging in the ground. A lot of the time we are excavating through archives and dusty old documents searching for clues. And a lot of the time we will do this in collaboration with historians. It makes sense since we both like old things and we like to tell stories of those who’s stories have yet to be told!

Finally, Jenny introduces us to her Kentucky bourbon balls. This sound absolutely amazing! Even though it’s summer for some of us winter is coming so it is best to be prepared!

The finished product!

Jenny’s Kentucky Bourbon Balls

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

5 Tablespoons bourbon (start with 5 tablespoons, but add in extra if need be. Different bourbons will have different strength)**

1. Be born in Kentucky and already know how to make bourbon filled desserts. Or if that fails…

2. Combine softened butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Mixture will be very dry with almost a sand like quality. Sugar blends better if you run it through a sifter first, but that’s not necessary.

2. Add bourbon and mix until incorporated. Use a hand mixer and mix until it has a creamy, fluffy texture (usually a couple of minutes of mixing)

3. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour.

4. Form the buttercream into 1 inch balls and place on waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm. At this point you can either dip them in the chocolate, or place them in a plastic bag and freeze to dip them in the morning.

5. Dip in chocolate coating and place a pecan on top. (See Below)
Chocolate Coating

4 to 6 ounces semisweet chocolate or a dark chocolate/semisweet chocolate mixture

Whole pecan halves or crushed pecans, for garnish


Place a toothpick in each bourbon ball, sticking the toothpick into the center.

Melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave or a double boiler. Mix and heat until smooth. To make the chocolate smoother, add in Crisco as you melt it. I’ve also found that plugging in a heating pad on the counter and setting your chocolate on there helps keep it smooth while you’re working.

Working quickly, dip the bourbon ball centers into the chocolate one at a time. Set the coated bourbon ball on waxed paper covering a baking sheet or pizza pan. Cover the top with pecans. You’ll want to alternate between dipping a few and placing pecans.

When all bourbon balls have been dipped allow them to rest until set. (To speed the process the pan of bourbon balls can be placed in the refrigerator.)

**Note on bourbon: nicer bourbon is not always best for bourbon balls because it’s too smooth. Pick something mid-range. I usually use Wild Turkey. If you use Jack Daniels, we can no longer be friends.

Link to Jenny’s webpage!

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