Hairdresser overturns archaeological assumptions

I should get back to marking now, but there’s surely fun stuff in here for you epistemologists.

In 2007, she sent her findings to the Journal of Roman Archaeology. “It’s amazing how much chutzpah you have when you have no idea what you’re doing,” she says. “I don’t write scholarly material. I’m a hairdresser.”

John Humphrey, the journal’s editor, was intrigued. “I could tell even from the first version that it was a very serious piece of experimental archaeology which no scholar who was not a hairdresser—in other words, no scholar—would have been able to write,” he says.

2 thoughts on “Hairdresser overturns archaeological assumptions

  1. Neat! One of a number of instances where someone with specialized skills/knowledge (acquired either vocationally or avocationally) has contributed idea to archaeology (and classical studies) which would never have occurred to someone with only archaeological or classical training.

    There are analogous cases elsewhere. A distinguished logician once told me the background of one of his noteworthy theorems: in his first teaching job he was assigned to a branch campus and didn’t have anyone to talk to, so, out of boredom, he started studying up on a couple of branches of mathematics with no obvious connection to his primary work in logic… one of which turned out to provide the model construction and lemma that, several years later, allowed him to answer a long-standing open question in mathematical logic.

    (And, b.t.w.– Don’t underestimate hairdressers! Every so often when I go for my monthly trim, I get a hairdresser — usually a woman, now that unisex salons have largely displaced the old-fashioned barber shop — who is really excited and passionate about hair. I get the same “vibe” from them that I get from passionate experts in other arts and sciences.)

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