NEWSLETTER 264 Edited by Liz Sagues MARCH 1993
Tuesday, March 2 Excavating in Northern Iraq: From the Greeks to the Mongols
Lecture by Dr John Curtis (postponed from November).
Dr Curtis is Keeper of the British Museum’s Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities, which covers the whole of the ancient Near East. Among the treasures held in the department are the Assyrian reliefs, gold objects and jewellery from the Royal Cemetery at Ur and the Oxus Treasure from Persia. Dr Curtis’s own interests are centred on Iraq and Iran in the 1st millennium BC and between 1983 and 1989 he excavated at eight different sites in Northern Iraq. Members will remember his visit to us two years ago when he gave an excellent talk about the BM’s work at Nimrud and Balawat. This time he will include the excavation of a Mongol period church, and his lecture will be an excellent follow-up to the February talk on cylinder seals from the same area.
Saturday, March 27 LAMAS Conference — see page 7.
Tuesday, April 6 Excavations at Fulham Palace
Lecture by Keith Whitehouse, of Fulham Archaeological Rescue Group. This will be
a further course to our Christmas Dinner at Fulham Palace.
Tuesday, May 4 HADAS Annual General Meeting
Followed by a HADAS miscellany: Great moments from the past, with slides of the 1979 HADAS Roman Banquet and the film of our entry in the 1977 Chronicle competition, with Magnus Magnusson, plus more slides illustrating 1992 activities.
Saturday, May 15 Seminar prior to Church Farmhouse excavation. St Mary’s Church House, afternoon.
Saturday, May 22 Bosworth Field — Outing with Sheila Woodward and Tessa Smith.
Saturday, June 19 Fishbourne and Chichester — Outing with Micky Cohen and Micky Watkins.
Saturday, July 17 Stonea (Roman and Iron Age) and Ely —
Outing with Vikki O’Connor, Roy Walker and Bill Bass.
Saturday, August 14 Pinner Walk and Headstone Manor An outing right on HADAS’s doorstep.
Early September Long weekend away — Chester and Llandudno may prove a more possible
Saturday, Sept 18 This planned St Paul’s walk, with Mary O’Connell, has had to be postponed.
Lecture by Dr Robin Symonds, from the Museum of London Roman Department, following up our Brockley Hill Exhibition of February 6.
Saturday, October 16 Minimart —please note change of date.
Please keep the Sales and Wants slip going. This is a great help to society funds, with £32 made already this year.
Tuesday, Nov 2 Fun and Games in the Roman Baths
Lecture by Mark Hassan, FSA, making a return visit following his talk on Roman writing two years ago.
Tuesday, Dec 7 Christmas Dinner
To be arranged: Dorothy Newbury is investigating the Royal Society of Arts, but if any member has alternative ideas, please ring her on 081-203 0950. The location must be somewhere of archaeological/historical interest as well as an eating place.
HADAS lectures are held at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4, at 8pm for 8.30pm.
As 1993 is the 1950th anniversary of the Roman invasion of Britain, you will notice that this year’s programme has a distinctly Roman flavour.
Jean Snelling, one of the society’s most dedicated members, died on February 7. A few days beforehand, from the North London Hospice, she wrote to Dorothy Newbury. Her letter, printed below, is followed by a tribute from Margaret Maher.
Love to you all
HADAS Newsletter 263 is the last one I am likely to read, and what a joy it is. Lying on my back, I keep losing my place and discover some new delight.
My love to so many friends.
This is a remarkable place — so much care and support from staff and volunteers.
I look out on trees, schoolboys, birds, sky — from a room full of flowers.
My love to HADAS for many happy years. Jean SnellingAlways a pleasure
Jean Snelling was a woman of keen intelligence and quiet charm, always a pleasure to meet and talk with. I shall remember her with affection for so many qualities — her unobtrusive efficiency and kindness, and not least her wonderfully dry sense of humour.She joined the society in 1980 and was an active member from the beginning, attending most of the lectures and outings and the annual long weekend away. She studied for the University of London Extra-Mural Certificate in Archaeology and tried to imbue other members with her own enthusiasm for the classes. Another interest was the Finchley Manor House Moat, to which she led a guided tour in May 1991.She will be especially remembered by the many people who dug with her in both phases of the West Heath excavations. Over a period of five years she quietly and unobtrusively contributed much to the success of the work on site and was involved in marking and processing finds after work finished in 1981. She also processed finds regularly for several years in the late 1980s as a volunteer at the Museum of London.Despite increasing ill health she continued to contribute to the society with a five-year stint, to mid-1992, co-opted on to the committee and she liased on behalf of HADAS with the London Archaeologist magazine and the Museum of London. From 1985 she was also one of the team who produced the Newsletter, editing an issue a year — a sometimes thankless task but essential to keep members in touch and much appreciated by them.The society will be the poorer for her death.
Several members attended Jean’s funeral, at Golders Green Crematorium, on February 15. Her friends in HADAS collected £40 for the North London Hospice, in place of flowers.
Welcome to new members
The following members joined HADAS during 199293 — we hope they have all found something of interest and will continue with us for many years to come:Mr & Mrs Bromley and son, Mr J. Kluger, Mrs P Ashbridge, Mr M. de Sausmarez, Mr Max Satchell, Mr K. Hartley, Miss Emma Rubens, Woodside Park Residents Association, Mr Russell Grant, Mrs S.M. Kutner, Miss Zoe Cameron, Miss Beverley Nash, Mrs Val Ambridge, Ms Selena Murray, Mr C.W. Ikin, Mr & Mrs A. Seminara, Miss E.G. Taylor, Mr & Mrs Devos, Miss M. Yates, Mr R. Calder, Ms Jean Bayne, Miss P O’Connell, Mr P.J. Nicholson, Mr D.J. Ross, Mr Des Williams, Mr A.B. Crawley.
… and the new Membership Secretary
Phyllis Fletcher writes:
I am pleased to say that Vikki O’Connor (081-361 1350) has become our new Membership Secretary and I wish her luck in her new post. I hope she enjoys it as much as I did. After more than 10 years in the post I am pleased to be retiring, but I shall still enjoy HADAS membership and activities.
More dates to note:
RAF Museum, Hendon: To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the formation of the RAF, the museum will be holding a free admission day on April 1. Current special exhibition is The Man Who Was Biggles, a topic which will bring back memories for many (runs until May 2). HADAS member Andy Simpson, who works at the museum, specially recommends its second new exhibition of 1993, “On Target”, which opens on May 13. This is a major display on the history of strategic bombing, to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous Dambusters Raid, and traces its subject from the earliest times to the laser-guided bombs of the Gulf War.
St Albans: The warrior burial from Folly Lane will be described by Rosalind Niblett, who excavated it, at the LAMAS meeting on March 10, at the Lecture Theatre of the Museum of London on Wednesday, March 10, starting at 6.30pm. April’s subject (April 7, same place, same time) is Pigrimage to Canterbury, by Helen Paterson, and in May (May 12) it is St Albans again — Martin Biddle talking on the 1200th anniversary of Offa’s refound ation of the Abbey.
National Archaeology Day 1993, organised by the Young Archaeologists Club, will be on Saturday-Sunday August 28-29, with the aim to show all kinds of “archaeology in action” to young people and their families and involve them in it. No North London activities are yet scheduled watch future Newsletters
Liz Sagues reports on the February lecture
Sealed with a cylinder
Dominique Colton, from the British Museum, quite literally rolled out the 3,000-year history of cylinder seals for members in the February lecture and impressed a large audience with slide after slide of skilled craftsmanship in miniature.
She explained that this invaluable bureaucratic invention seemed to have taken place, probably around 3,500 to 3,300 BC, in the area of present-day Southern Iraq/South West Iran, developing from an earlier tradition of stamp seals.
Once invented, the cylinder seal rapidly became widely popular. “As cuneiform was adopted by countries around Mesopotamia, so the cylinder seal was adopted too.” It spread, she continued, even as far as India and Central Asia.
The value of sealing documents and goods in transit — “it doesn’t stop people stealing, but it shows that they have” was as evident then as it is now, when the ancient Near Eastern practice continues with modern customs seals.
It was as a means of sealing texts, principally clay tablets enclosed in clay “envelopes”, that cylin‑
der seals were most valuable. They were the right size, about an inch high and rather less than half an inch in diameter. Seals larger than that were less likely to have been in practical use, rather serving some symbolic purpose.
Dr Collon’s slides showed how cylinder seals are an invaluable source of information about past
everyday and ceremonial life, as well as evidence of the highest skills of craftsmanship. One, from about 3,100 BC, provides the earliest known illustration of a composite bow; another, some 800 years younger,
is the first evidence for the lute; water buffalo depicted on yet another confirm the import of the
animal into Iraq in the third millennium BC (it was not introduced again until the seventh century AD). On a broader scale, they illustrate mythical scenes, offer evidence of trading patterns, indicate dairying or weaving techniques.
Her own particular triumph had been to identify bull leaping scenes on seals from the ruins of
Alalakh near the Syrian coast, dating from around 1700 BC. Did this, she asked, mean there was Syrian influence on Crete? Or were such seals simply evi‑dence that there were bands of athletes travelling around the Eastern Mediterranean area performing the bull-leaping feats?
After about 1200 BC there came the “dark age” of seals, when with the incursions of the Sea People administration in much of the Near East collapsed and with it the use of seals. They were revived in the ninth century, with particularly fine carving on 7th century Assyrian examples. And the last cylinder seal? Probably just before 300 BC, said Dr Collon, answering her own question. “It was probably just a status symbol.”
Her lecture left those who were lucky enough to hear it with an over-riding impression of the beauty of cylinder seals — made in a huge variety of stone, from amazonite to cornelian, from rock crystal to limestone, from mass-produced faience to a rare green garnet possibly from Kashmir or the Urals.
And with an admiration, too, for the skill of those who carved, with extraordinary delicacy and using only copper hand tools, such a variety of scenes — flowing water, rippling muscles, intertwining serpents, tiny details of dress or weapons, the finest art of the time in miniature.
A small exhibition on 7,000 years of seals continues outside the Lecture Theatre at the British Museum until August.
Mesopotamian seal impressions: above, an early “brocade-style” example; below, an Akkadian design showing the sun-god in his boat, dating from around 2300-2200 BC.
D-Day, 43 AD
Any members who are going to the day of events in Kent on May 29 to commemorate the landing of the Romans in Britain and who can offer lifts to non-motorised members are asked to contact Dorothy Newbury, 081-203 0950.
Coming to Church Farmhouse Museum:
The Magic Molecule Show
What has ensured the survival today of elephants and turtles? The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is plastics — because plastic billiard balls have become an excellent substitute for ivory ones, and celluloid proved an acceptable alternative to tortoiseshell. And where, later this month, will you be able to see many of the items which helped to spur the plastics revolution? The answer is at Church Farmhouse Museum.
HADAS member Percy Reboul, who is chairman of the Plastics History Society, is one of the
organisers of Magic Molecules — the Story of Plastics, which opens at the museum on March 14. It is, he says, one of the first displays in the UK to tell the story of how plastics were discovered and how they have grown to become a key modern material.
The exhibition, staged by the PHS in conjunction with the borough’s Libraries, Arts and Museum
Service, draws upon the unrivalled private collections of the society’s members throughout the country.
Of special interest is the display of Parkesine, the first-ever plastics shown in 1862 at the Great
International Exhibition in London. Other exhibits will include early radios, cameras, jewellery, household goods, games and toys —many of which will be remembered with affection by some older visitors.
Teachers will find the display particularly valuable, with information available on topics such
as sources of raw materials for plastics or how
plastics are processed. A small injection moulding machine will be operated from time to time to show
the principles of manufacture. There will, too, be consideration of the effect of plastics on the environment — they can be recycled, Percy emphasises.
He also points out the archaeological implications of the plastics revolution: “It is true to say that
plastics artefacts of yesterday and today will certainly be used as dating evidence for the centuries ahead. Instead of coins and pottery sherds archaeologists of the future will be finding plastics artefacts.”
The modern contribution made by plastics is not forgotten. In conjunction with the British Plastics Federation, a collection of some of the best designs and applications will be on show.
PI-IS is also taking the opportunity, on the afternoons of April 4 and June 6, to stage Plastics
Antique Roadshows where their members will be pleased to give advice on identification, conservation and, where possible, value.
What the papers say
One of the largest prehistoric sites in the world has been identified from aerial photography, David Keys reports in The Independent. The site, 30 miles south west of Dublin, has three miles of stone ramparts enclosing 320 acres of land with a central citadel encompassing some 25 stone huts. It is thought to date from the eighth or seventh century BC and is suggested to have been a centre of tribal power associated with local mineral exploitation — the nearby Wicklow Mountains were then a rich source of copper and gold.
The Independent also records the discovery of “the world’s oldest religious structure” — a 12,000-yearold wooden platform from which votive figurines were thrown into a lake — by Polish archaeologists. They have recovered 100 highly stylised statuettes, made of willow and the oldest known wooden artworks, and believe thousands more remain in the silted-up lake 130 miles north of Warsaw. The figurines appear to represent both men and women.
And a third article from the same paper notes that 70 yards of Roman city wall, faced with basalt blocks, and the remains of a timber Roman city gate have been identified by archaeologists in Exeter. The city council is currently engaged in a renovation and conservation programme, opening up previously inaccessible areas to the the public.
The Times reports that academic experts on Shakespearean theatre have decided on the final plans for the “authentic” reproduction of the Globe theatre, due to be opened on the South Bank in 1994.
In the Daily Telegraph’s letters column there is news that the second phase of excavation of the Bronze Age boat at Dover has been completed. The boat is considered to date from around 1300 BC, roughly contemporary with those from North Ferriby, Humberside.
Francis Grew, from the Museum of London, reports on the HADAS Roman display
Pots of interest
Brockley Hill lies about 3 miles north of Elstree, on the Edgware Road, and was the site of one of the most important potteries in Roman Britain. Many excavations have been carried out here, and HADAS is the custodian of most of the pots from digs in the 1940s and 1950s. The society’s Roman day on February 6 was an opportunity to examine them at first hand, laid out in St Mary’s Church House. The Museum of London is currently working on the pots in its collection — from digs between 1968 and 1975— and I, with three colleagues from the museum and Institute of Archaeology, was very pleased to be able to join HADAS to “compare notes”.
What an excellent day it was. An array of jars, dishes, lids and “miniatures” jostled with the Brockley Hill potters’ specialities: flagons of all shapes and sizes, and mixing bowls — “mortaria”— stamped with the potter’s name. The highlight for me, though, was one of the stamps itself, loaned from the Moxom Collection in Church Farmhouse Museum: MATVGEV FECIT, it reads — “Matugenus made this”. Rarely does one come so close to the craftsman himself, and the tools of his trade.
The day was an opportunity, too, to meet many of those who had helped wash, catalogue and store the pottery, and even some of those who had dug it up: one member recalled working with Philip Suggett, site director in the early 1950s, when one of the most enthusiastic diggers was a schoolboy named Martin Biddle!
As a relief from pottery, in the afternoon we were guided round St Mary’s Church by Ted Sammes. Ted is an expert on Hendon, having directed excavations here and having recorded most of the monuments in the churchyard. The earliest fabric of the church is 13th or 14th century, but almost at the outbreak of the First World War an extension was made on the south side so that it now has an unusually wide planform — 4 altars side by side.
The most important treasure, however, is a Norman font. This shows the church must have been founded not long after — if not before — the Conquest; any refurbishment or redecoration which exposes more of the structure may yield valuable information about this, and must be watched carefully.
Finally, we returned to the hall for some welcome tea and a brief impromptu lecture on the importance of Brockley Hill from Robin Symonds of the Museum of London. Robin had brought along a complete Brockley Hill amphora from recent excavations in Smith-field, stamped with the maker’s name, SENECIO, (pictured above). We must not just look at these as “pots”, he explained, but think of their function: they would have contained wine, and so suggest that viticulture was practised in Roman North London. Chateau Sulloniacae ’83, perhaps?
In all a splendid day, with some 40 people attending and many thanks due to the organisers: Tessa Smith, Helen Gordon and Sheila Woodward, plus Ted Sammes for the walk.
Among the small finds from the Brockley Hill excavations is an earthernware phallus applied to a pottery sherd, writes Ted Sammes. It came from the 1952/3 excavations by P.G. Suggett, MA, and is illustrated discreetly on page 272 of volume XI part III 1954.
We must remember that to the Romans a phallus was not obscene or just a sex symbol. Their religion carried, somewhat dimly, contacts with the Greeks, Celts and possibly India. In many cases the phallus appears to be a protection against the evil eye — as a hanging pendant or on the outside of buildings as in Pompeii.
The Brockley Hill example probably came from a pot with a possible vertical diameter of about 32 cm. It is coarsely made and impressed on to the pot, there being nail marks and finger impressions on the back. Its workmanship is in great contrast to a whole pot from Horsey Toll, now in Peterborough Museum.
Whatever we like to conclude, the cult of the phallus was spread from Turkey right round to Hadrian’s Wall.
News, news, news…
Plans for the summer dig at Church Farmhouse Museum, Hendon, as detailed in the February Newsletter, are well under way and Brian Wrigley already has a substantial list of people wanting to be involved. It you want to add your name to the list, contact Brian (081-959 5982) as soon as possible.
· HADAS is planning to update The Blue Plaques of Barnet, adding those plaques installed since the book was published. The photographic side is organised; a volunteer is needed, however, to write the text. Anyone able to help should contact Liz Holiday (0923 267483).
· The inaugural meeting of the Friends of Church Farmhouse Museum will take place at Hendon Library on Wednesday March 17, starting at 8pm. Everyone interested in Hendon’s museum is welcome, and the founder members will be able to play their part in establishing the goup’s role and how it is organised.
· The Museum of London is also formally launching its “friends” group — The Associates of the Museum of London. Associates have unlimited free access to the permanent displays and special exhibitions, a series of events including tours and behind-the-scenes visits, priority booking for certain public tours and a regular newsletter. Membership is £15 a year (concessions £12.50), and full details are available from Amanda Saunders, Development Officer, Museum of London, London Wall, EC2Y 5HN (071600 3699).
· Wheelwright’s equipment probably dating from the last century has been found under a concrete floor at the Hammond Coachworks in Parson Street, Hendon. It includes a massive steel tyring plate, some six feet in diameter and very, very heavy, on which wheels were located while their iron tyres where fitted. There are plans to clean up and display the equipment.
· More of the history of Hampstead Heath should be learned from planned research work on the East Heath boundary ditch. HADAS is involved in the discussions, but it is likely to be a long-term project.
· Archaeological and heritage bodies, HADAS among them, are being included in consultation on the Forestry Commission’s plans for the Watling Chase Community Forest. This grandiose scheme covers a huge part of South Hertfordshire, stretching into the Elstree /Edgwarebury area, Totteridge and Chipping Barnet. It seems likely that tree-planting will take place only on some parts of the area, and those of potential archaeological concern will not be affected.
· There are plans for a memorial sundial in Hampstead Garden Suburb, to commemorate the enormous contribution of Brigid Grafton Green, the Suburb’s late archivist and, of course, one of HADAS’s most energetic and respected members. Members who would like to contribute to the memorial should contact Dorothy Newbury (081-203 0950).
A one-day school on Humble Dwellings Urban and Rural Housing for the Poor, 18th – 20th Centuries is being organised by the Friends of the Chiltern Open Air Museum on Sunday, April 18 at Buckinghamshire College, Chalfont St Giles. The fee, which includes entry to the museum, is £12. For more details ring Liz Childerhouse on 0923 720069 (day), or send a cheque (made out to Friends of COAM) to Les Butler, 15 Copthall Corner, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks SL9 OBZ.
· That ever-expanding supplier of archaeological reading matter, Oxbow Books, is now distributing the publications of the Society of Antiquaries of London — including reports on such important sites as Verulamium, Durrington Walls, Fishbourne and the Gadebridge Park Roman villa. For the new, huge spring list, write to Oxbow Books, Park End Place, Oxford OX1 1HN (0865 241249).
Percy Reboul reviews:
A worthy addition to the bookshelf
“One picture,” they say, “is worth a thousand words.” I, for one, wouldn’t argue with that assessment after reading Finchley and Friern Barnet — the latest addition to the Phillimore pictorial history series. It is quite superb and excellent value at £11.95.This is clearly a book written by professionals whose motives are to strengthen our understanding and enjoyment of the past rather than merely to make money. The introduction is as good a short history of the area as you are likely to find and, on its own, would justify the purchase price.But the real glory is the 180 or so historic photographs which, with their captions, are a treasure trove for those interested in the local scene as it relates to costume, transport, schools, architecture and much more besides.The authors, Stewart Gillies and Pamela Taylor, are our local history librarian and archivist respectively. They are also members of HADAS and the society can be of their considerable achievement. The book itself is a hardback with an attractive dust-cover and one is struck by its value for money compared with some examples of the same genre currently on sale. Finchley and Friern Barnet is a must for the bookshelf. It is available from local libraries and bookshops and will make a most acceptable present for anyone interested in the borough and its past.
Lots of places to go
North, south, west
Early summer in the Orkneys, autumn in Brittany? Do archaeological outings to such richly prehistoric locations appeal to HADAS members? Jim Smith is tempted by both trips, study tours organised by the University of Keele’s adult education department, and wonders if other members would like to join him to form a HADAS contingent.
The brief details of the two trips are:
Archaeology of the Orkneys, June 25-July 3, with residence on the Island of Burray, leader Carol Allen, with visits to sites including Maes Howe, Skara Brae, the Tombs of the Eagles, Mid Howe and the houses and tombs on Papa Westray. Brittany, September 615, based near St Mato and Benodet, leader Robert Speake, with visits including Mont St Michel, Cap Frehel, Carnac, Locronan and Quimper.
For more information, write to Adult and Continuing Education, Keele University, Freepost (ST1666), Newcastle, Staffs ST5 5BR, or contact Jim Smith on 081-458 6575.
The Keele trips apart, there is a huge choice of other archaeological holiday ideas. The Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford has one to Burgundy (June 4-12), which includes Alesia and Bibracte as well as more modern monuments such as the Hotel-Dieu in Beaune, and another to Western Anatolia (September 17-27); while
Speciality Tours offers such British locations as Christian Northumbria, the Fens and the Cheshire salt
mines; and Andante Travels suggests Discovering Imperial Rome on Foot, Carthage and Classical Tunisia, or Sicilia Antigua, as well as the prehistoric cave paintings of the Dordogne and Northern Spain (separate trips).
Details: Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, 1 Wellington Square, Ox‑
ford, OX1 2JA; Speciality Tours, 69 Glisson Road, Cambridge CM 2HG (0223 67615); Andante Travels, Grange Cottage, Winterbourne Dauntsey, Salisbury SP4 6ER (0980 610979).
OUDCE also has weekend symposia and Saturday day schools in Oxford,on subjects as diverse and the Origins of Venice and Medieval Palaces of England, contact address as above.
…and in London
Artist and archaeologist: the two great qualities of Howard Carter are splendidly examined and explained in the current British Museum exhibition celebrating the 70th anniversary of the best-known Egyptian discovery of them all — the tomb of Tutankhamun.But it is some of the smaller, less spectacular exhibits which are most revealing of the character and skills of a man whose private persona was never suited to the public exposure his spectacular discovery generated.The exhibition’s documents record many of the most important moments in his life, from his appointment by the Egypt Exploration fund as its junior illustrator in the field to the tomb opening itself.Carter’s record cards of the Tutankhamun finds are the epitome of a painstaking archaeologist’s work — meticulous in their detail, with drawings which combine precision with artistic elegance. Archaeology comes first there; in another, equally revealing exhibit, priorities are reversed. His painting of a hoopoe nesting in the wall of a Theban temple, the liv ing bird settled beneath the protective wings of the painted vulture goddess Nekhbet, is fine art in an archaeological setting, Carter the artist immersed in the archaeological milieu — his life, precisely.
There is plenty of conventional Egyptology on display, including finds from many of the excavations in which Carter was involved, as well as personal items such as his paintbox and the magnificent brass and mahogany plate camera with which his patron Lord Carnarvon recorded great moments in the history of archaeology.But it is an exhibition about a man as much as his discoveries, and all the more revealing for that.
Howard Carter: Before Tutankhamun continues at the British Museum until May 31, with accompanying lectures and gallery talks. The book of the exhibition, by Nicholas Reeves and John H. Taylor, illustrates much of what is on show; for the full story of the man himself read Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun (Kegan Paul), the excellent new biography by T.G.H. James, former keeper of the BM’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities and a resident of Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Andy Simpson provides this extract from The Times, which emphasises the value of archaeological disciplines in the office…
The stratigraphy of the desk top
Anyone sneering at a colleague’s untidy desk should think again — for that mountain of paper could be the key to a new, user-friendly filing system.Dr Mark Lansdale, ergonomics expert at Loughborough University, dismisses conventional wisdom that a clean desk is the mark of a dynamic executive and vouches for those whose desks are a jungle of discarded memos, invoices and unanswered mail.The mountain of paper is, he says, like a volcano: “A vaguely conical heap with a crater in the middle.” Documents come into the crater and are dealt with. But if unimportant, they migrate to the edge, fall off and are thrown away by cleaners. When searching for a document, the worker, like an archaeologist, uses time and context to guide him. The older the document, the deeper it is buried; related documents tell the searcher when he is in the right area.Most filing systems involve semantic memory whereby documents are categorised — a method unsuited to human beings, according to Dr Lansdale, because of our inefficiency at remembering the categories. He is developing an “autobiographical” filing system whereby documents are retrieved by entering into an electronic diary the date of when they were last seen.“Until the system is perfected,” says Dr Lansdale, “the office mess seems well suited to the way the memory works.”
Time to pay up
Subscriptions will be due on April 1 and this year, because of rising costs, they’re going up.
The new rates are:
Second member of same family £2.50
Over 60/Student £5
Members paying by banker’s order will find new forms enclosed with this Newsletter. Please complete them and send them to your bank as soon as possible —banks take at least a fortnight to process them and if they go in late you may find you are paying twice. Also, HADAS has changed banks, to reduce costs, so this makes the form-filling even more important and urgent.
To put the subscription rises into perspective, here is a list of some of the society’s major, unavoidable costs:
Anticipated 1993 rental and service charges for the HADAS room at Avenue House £1,577
Cost of storage space at College Farm £160
Charge for use of Hendon Library for lectures £180 (£30 up on last year and known to be rising again from April).
These costs alone swallow up the current subscription income, and emphasise how important such fund-raising activities as the Minimart are, in keep ing the society afloat. The committee hopes to hold subscriptions at the new rate for several years. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 1993
Members are reminded that the AGM will be held on Tuesday, May 4, 1993, at Hendon Library, starting at 8.30pm.
The HADAS Newsletter thrives thanks to everyone who contributes material to fill its pages so keep sending articles, cuttings, news and all the other items which other members like to read. Here’s the list of editors for the remainder of the year, with the deadline dates, so you know who to address contributions to and when to send them: