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Chapple, R. M. 2012 'Archaeological Fashion in the 1930s' Blogspot post

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  • 1. Archaeological fashion in the 1930s Originally posted online on September 13th 2012 at rmchapple.blogspot.com (http://rmchapple.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/archaeological-fashion-in-1930s.html)To the general public, archaeologists are associated with one fashion item: the fedorahat. Amongst ourselves, we frequently berate each other (and our younger selves) forsuch fashion faux pas as denim shorts, trowel holsters, and stripy jumpers … at leastin the days before Health and Safety turned the profession into a day-glow sea offluorescent high-viz vests. But there was once a simpler time … a happier time … atime when archaeology not only knew fashion … we knew STYLE!I was sent the accompanying photograph by Eoin C Bairéad (who is responsible forthe regular ‘News from the Net’ feature in Archaeology Ireland). The splendidlyturned-out archaeologist is Liam S. Gógan (1879-1979). He joined the NationalMuseum of Ireland in 1914, and from 1936 until his retirement in 1956 he wasKeeper of the Art and Industrial Division. Gógan was also a well known Irish-language poet and his Selected Poems have just been published by Coiscéim, in anedition by Dr. Louis de Paor. The book includes the above photograph of Liam,excavating ‘late in the 1930s’. While much of Europe was getting excited by marchingand coloured shirts around this time, Gógan cuts a dapper figure, deep inconcentration, as he wields a massive trowel around a slab-lined inhumation.Although the combination of tweed overcoat, raincoat, and broad-brimmed hat areunlikely to be replicated on any modern excavation, it is the perfectly adjusted wingcollar that speaks to us from an age of elegance and refinement long gone from fieldarchaeology.As Eoin himself says: “While it is a truth universally recognised that sartorialstandards among Archaeologists have declined almost as much as the Irish economy,I am still impressed with Liams style, particularly the wing collar.”

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