Minutes of an Ordinary meeting of The Old Glasgow Club held at Adelaide’s, 209 Bath Street on Thursday 11th March 2010 at 7.30pm
Mr Gordon (President)
Mr Gordon welcomed members to the meeting.
There were apologies from Anna Forrest, Charlie McCall, Sharon Maceys, Brian Henderson and Isabel Muldowney.
The minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on 11th February were approved, proposed by Mr Woodhouse and seconded by Mr G. Kerr. There were no matters arising.
Orkney Street Police Station, Govan on Saturday 27th March at 10.30am.
Necropolis guided tour on Sunday 25th April at 2.00pm.
The J.A.S. Wilson Memorial Walk, Glasgow Green. The date will be confirmed.
The Tappit Hen Bowling Tournament, May 27th Kelvingrove Bowling Greens.
Summer Outing to St Andrews and the Secret Bunker on Saturday 12th June.
Mr Gordon introduced Mr Jim Mearns, President of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, who would speak on “What use is archaeology?”
The Old Glasgow Club and the Glasgow Archaeological Society combined efforts in the past, firstly to save Kelvingrove House (unsuccessfully) and secondly to successfully save the Pearce Lodge at the University of Glasgow and the Tolbooth Steeple on High Street.
Mr Mearns described archaeology as the method by which the past is identified, recorded and interpreted. In and around Glasgow we can still see visible evidence of its archaeology via ruins and artefacts and empathise with our ancestors via these traces. We can see how and why people clustered and settled around certain areas.
Archaeology as we know it was initiated by traders and travellers bringing back tales and artefacts, for example Renaissance Europe was fascinated by ancient Greek and Rome. In Britain Hadrian’s Wall was an early study in antiquarianism by William Camden (1555-1623), then Egyptian artefacts were in vogue according to William Stukely (1687-1765). Both London and Scotland set up a Society of Antiquities and in 1844 David Findlay requested that a society be set up in Glasgow. Archaeology then replaced antiquarianism with a more structured and scientific discipline of study and in 1856 the constitution of the Glasgow Archaeological Society was composed.
Since these early clubs and societies there have been many scientific advances such as Carbon 14 dating, computer technology and DNA analysis resulting in the many different classes of archaeology in place today. The definition and philosophy of archaeology has also changed over the years, from an academic study of curios in a museum to cutting edge technology and in-depth analysis.
Archaeology has been used as a political tool, for example in Communist Russia and Nazi Germany. Himmler was fascinated by Germanic archaeology and used it as the basis of Ahnenerbe- an elite think tank which aimed to unearth Germanys ancestors and pre-historic accomplishments in order to scientifically justify the Nazi Party’s political agenda against Jews and homosexuals. In other cases archaeology has caused ill feeling between nations, for example an excavation involving the tomb of Alexander the Great caused unrest between Greece and the Former Yugoslavian state of Macedonia.
More positively archaeology is important for explaining the past to local communities, preserving the past for future generations, educating the young and for highlighting environmental issues. In Scotland archaeology is closely tied in with tourism e.g. Edinburgh Castle and Skara Brae. The economy of Easter Island is almost entirely dependent on archaeology.
As well as being an interesting subject we can learn a lot from ancient civilisations. Jared Diamonds study “Collapse” used Iceland as a model for a period of archaeological decline during the Viking age, an example of a man-made/domesticated livestock disaster where over-farming almost caused the economy and the landscape to collapse.
The hunt for lost civilisations e.g. Atlantis is always popular with the public but rarely yields any hard-scientific facts. It is an archaeologist’s responsibility to share scientific knowledge using sound research however the public will believe what they want despite hard evidence, for example the current debate over creationism versus intelligent design divides people’s opinion from a religious aspect.
In closing Mr Mearns summarises that archaeology is extremely useful. By understanding where we came from and where our roots are we can plan where we are going.
Mr Mearns then answered questions from the hall. He also informed us that there would be an exhibition; “Digging up Glasgow” in St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life from June 23rd 2010.
Vote of thanks
Mr Smith thanked Mr Mearns for his very thorough talk and presented him with a Centenary Handbook and a year’s membership.
Photo competition winner
The answer to the competition is that the North and South Rotunda were the entrances to the Glasgow Harbour Tunnel.
The next directors meeting would take place on Wed 31st March and the next Ordinary meeting would be on Thurs 8th April where the speaker will be Flt. Lt. Traynor on the topic “602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force”.
Mr Gordon wished all a safe journey home.
Mr Gordon wished all a safe journey home.
Next Directors Meeting- Thurs 5th November
Next Ordinary Meeting – Glasgow Riverside Museum Project, Iyke Ikegwuonu,
Thurs 12th November
P Cairns, Recording Secretary.