Monday, 30 December 2013

We found a king, we lost a hero: archaeology in 2013

So another year is over and it's time to reflect on the discoveries, excavations and projects of the year past. It's hard to single out only a few events that have shaped the archaeological landscape in the last twelve months and I'm sure you all have your own individual triumphs and losses that make 2013 memorable for you. The following have resonated with us...

Richard III dig: DNA confirms bones are king's

After an ambitious project led by the University of Leicester, it was announced to the world in February 2013 that King Richard III's remains had been found in a car park in Leicester. Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard." Richard, killed in battle in 1485, will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. Mr Buckley said the bones had been subjected to "rigorous academic study" and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540. Dr Jo Appleby, an osteo-archaeologist from the university's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, revealed the bones were of a man in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died.

Archaeologists find escape tunnel at Sobibor death camp in Poland

A series of historic archaeological findings were made in May and June 2013 at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in what was occupied Poland. Archaeological excavations carried out at the site by Israeli and Polish researchers unearthed an escape tunnel, a crematorium, human skeletal remains, a substance that appears to be blood and the identification tag of a Jewish boy who was murdered in the camp. The findings shed new light on the camp, where around 250,000 Jews were killed between 1942 and 1943.

Professor Mick Aston: 1946-2013

Professor Mick Aston died on 24th June 2013. He was most famous for his work on Channel 4's Time Team, which has been sold into over 30 countries and has had a huge impact on the public understanding of archaeological field practice. Professor Aston also enjoyed a lengthy and successful academic career including government posts at Oxford and Somerset Councils and academic roles at Bristol, Oxford and Birmingham Universities. Throughout his career he engaged with the public wherever possible and through any means available, particularly through extramural teaching.

Wishing you a happy and successful New Year from the CUDI team!



Wednesday, 18 December 2013

'One of my cherished remembrances of the Holy Land': Lord Kitchener and Christmas at Bethlehem

It might be all last minute shopping, frantic gift wrapping and over done turkey these days but have you ever wondered what Christmas was like in the Holy Land in the nineteenth century? Well you're in luck as I am celebrating this blog's first Christmas with a detailed account by Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, a British Field Marshal and colonial administartor who died during the First World War, of 'Christmas at Bethlehem'. This article, together with another, was found among reports and other papers of the late Lord Kitchener, in his handwriting and over his signature after his death. It was published in the January 1917 issue of Palestine Exploration Quarterly.

'On Christmas Eve of 1875 we rode from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to be present at the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. The road, so well known to all travellers in the Holy Land, passes the Well of the Magi, where tradition relates that the three kings from the East again beheld the guiding star.


"A little farther on is a still more ancient site, the Tomb of Rachel, now an ordinary Mahommedan tomb without any appearance of remote antiquity; yet this spot has been venerated by Christians, Mahommedans, and Jews from the earliest times as the burial-place of the mother of Benjamin. It agrees so well with the Bible narrative of the death and burial of Rachel on the way to Bethlehem, that it seems hard to find objection to the genuineness of its position, and yet there are many difficulties to be reconciled before it can be accepted without any doubts. On our, arrival at Bethlehem we found the inhabitants returning from Beit Jala, where they had been to meet and bring the Latin Patriarch to their town. Any honoured person is thus met in Palestine by the inhabitants before arriving at the town, and conducted the rest of the way with great rejoicings, the mounted portion of the escort performing fantasia in front, galloping wildly about, shouting, and firing their' rusty old flintlocks into the air. On returning from Beit Jala they had started on the Jerusalem road in order to meet the French Consul, who arrives in great state as the representative of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Bethlehemites are well-to-do people, earning a good deal from their speciality of carving religious subjects in mother-of-pearl which they sell to pilgrims and travellers; they are mostly Christians, and their women have a well-deserved reputation for good looks which is enhanced by their rather peculiar costume. It consists of a dress of red and blue woollen stuff, open at the throat, and with long hanging sleeves, a mantle of the same hangs down behind, and a long white veil, sometimes embroidered, and held up by a high cylindrical bonnet, forms their headdress; this resembles the ancient oriental headdress worn by female figures representing Syrian towns seen on coins. The lower part of the bonnet is ornamented sometimes by strings of coins closely packed together, and necklaces of silver coins are worn with full dress. A Bethlehem woman might almost start a money-changer's shop with the amount of coins she wears; some are old family heirlooms, and it is their great ambition to put on as many coins as possible. This desire is fraught with some danger, as several of these women were murdered for their ornaments in the short time we were at Jerusalem. Nothing is prettier than a crowd of these women in their long white veils, bright dresses, and sparkling jewellery. The men delight in very rich and full turbans of all colours, and very bright oriental dresses."

>> Read the full article for free

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Cannon you believe it? The time and money it takes to conserve artefacts salvaged from shipwrecks

You may have seen in the news last week that further diving at the Elizabethan wreck that sank off Alderney in the Channel Islands, UK in the 16th Century has been carried out by the Alderney Maritime Trust and staff from Bournemouth University. They have uncovered three cannon and "substantial ship timbers" in addition to over 1,000 artefacts that were salvaged from the first dive to the wreck in 2008. The unnamed ship sunk in November 1592 and was discovered by local fishermen Bertie Costeril and Fred Shaw in 1977.

Mike Harrison, coordinator trustee, said more work on the site was going to go ahead next summer and explained the large lapse in time between dives by stating that "[t]hings move very slowly with marine archaeology, the work we've done in the last few years... has been conserving objects." However he also noted that "it's very, very expensive... we've got a lot of fundraising to do, it's tens of thousands of pounds, conserving a cannon is £10,000 for example."

I took a look in our online archive to read more about conservation in maritime archaeology and came across the article 'In situ conservation of cannon and anchors on shipwreck sites' by Ian Donald MacLeod in a 1996 issue of Studies in Conservation. In the article the author explains how a wrought iron anchor and a cast iron carronade from the wreck of HMS Sirius (1790) received In situ electrolysis treatment using sacrificial anodes in the shallow waters off Norfolk Island in the South Pacific Ocean.This pre-treatment stabilises the artifacts and ensures that they can be safely recovered and transported.

Monitoring on the seabed and in the laboratory showed that approximately 80% of the chlorides had been removed from the carronade before excavation. The cathodic
pre-treatment results in a significant improvement in the quality of the surface of the metals. He argues it is possible to maintain artifacts on the seabed by continued use of sacrificial anodes.

>> Read the full article for free



Monday, 9 December 2013

Digging deeper (literally): 150 years of the London underground

For this month's Digging Deeper we are turning to the interdisciplinary publication The London Journal: A Review of Metropolitan Society Past and Present and its recent special issue celebrating a number of significant milestones in the history of the London underground.

In the case of London’s underground railway system, the focus of this special issue, several key dates vie for commemorative attention: 1890, the date of the first deep-level, wholly underground line, when new technologies — electric traction and deep-level tunnelling — were united; 1933, the key political–managerial date, when the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) took over control of almost the entire Underground network; even 1853, when the North Metropolitan Railway, which became the Metropolitan Railway, first received Parliamentary authorisation, and the process of planning and building the Underground began in earnest. The last two dates have the satisfying arithmetic quality of being exactly 80 and 160 years ago, and the first was, in fact, celebrated (albeit modestly) as the ‘Tube Centenary’ in 1990. But 150 years is a more obvious anniversary, not least because it marks the longest period of operation of any underground railway, reminding us that the first section of the Metropolitan, the ‘world’s first underground railway’, opened to the public in January 1863, employing tried and tested technologies but in a novel combination to solve a new problem: how to handle traffic in cities that could no longer be traversed comfortably on foot. Ideas about traffic and comfort have changed since then, and will continue to change in the future, making us mindful of both marked continuities and the contingency of change.
 
The article "Celebrating the Underground's Architectural Legacy" provides a retrospective of the statutory protection of the London Underground’s built heritage since 1970, when the first Underground listing, St James’s Park Station and 55 Broadway, Westminster took place. It sets out the criteria used in assessing Underground buildings for designation, with illustrated examples from a comprehensive resurvey undertaken by English Heritage in 2010–11, which resulted in seventeen new listings and four upgradings:
 
"London’s Underground system has endowed the capital and its suburbs with some of its most outstanding examples of architecture and design. Seventy Underground stations, approximately one-quarter of the total on the network, are now included in the National Heritage List for England. Statutory listing, introduced by the Town & Country Planning Act (1947), is a recognition of special architectural or historic interest in a national context. Over half a million buildings are listed nationally, graded under three categories: Grade I (of exceptional interest); Grade II* (of more than special interest); and Grade II (of special interest). These account, respectively, for approximately 2.5 per cent, 5.5 per cent and 92 per cent of all listed buildings. Most pre-1840 buildings are listed; after that date, increasing selectivity is applied. Buildings under 30 years old are listed only exceptionally, and must be of outstanding interest and under demonstrable threat in order to be considered; this is because the lapse of time is usually insufficient for their significance to be properly understood."

>> Read the full article for free

Monday, 2 December 2013

Volunteer at SAA 2014!

The 79th Society for American Archaeology (SAA) Annual Meeting will be held in Austin, TX on April 23-27, 2014. SAA is looking for volunteers to assist with all on-site meeting services.

Volunteer Requirements:
There is only one requirement for volunteering: You must be able to work a total of 8 hours (two four hour shifts). In return for your time, you will receive a free meeting registration that gives you full access to the 79th Annual Meeting.

Training:
Training will be provided through detailed and targeted manuals sent to you electronically prior to the meeting along with on-the-job instruction. Volunteers must pick up their registration packet at the volunteer registration table in the registration area at the beginning of the annual meeting. As always, SAA staff will be on hand to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have!


Continuing this year:
Session attendant volunteers (please see note under the description for session room attendants as there are changes) will be allowed to request specific sessions once the Preliminary Program is available in December. If you submit an application before the Preliminary Program is available, you can revise your shift availability to reflect those sessions you would like. Please send any changes to Josh Caro, and please note that these requests will be taken on a first come, first served basis. We may not be able to accommodate all of your choices. We will send an e-mail to all session attendant volunteers to let them know when the Preliminary Program is available.


If you would like to volunteer, please complete the application form at the bottom of this page and send it to SAA headquarters. The deadline for the application is February 3, 2014. Be sure to press the Send Form button at the bottom of the page. Volunteer opportunities are limited so please respond ASAP. If you are a presenter, we understand you will not know your schedule until the Preliminary Program is online in December and you will never be scheduled for a shift that conflicts with your session. You will receive an email confirmation if you are accepted as a volunteer within two weeks of the receipt of your application. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Josh Caro at josh_caro@saa.org or by phone at +1(202)559-7382.



Friday, 22 November 2013

Rudolph, how did you get your nose so bright? PhD opportunities in reindeer archaeology

So it's a tenuous link, but Christmas is just around the corner, I wanted to write a festive blog post and this is as close as I could get. 

Fully-Funded PhD Research Project (UK/EU students only) Department of Archaeology, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen




Supervisors: Dr. Kate Britton, Dr. Rick Knecht, Dr. Vaughan Grimes (external, MUN)
Application deadline: Friday 6th December 2013
Start date: Flexible, but should be between February 1st and August 1st 2014 (a later start date in Autumn 2014 may be negotiable)

Details: This studentship is part of a new, large international AHRC-funded research project at the University of Aberdeen, Department of Archaeology, led by Dr. Rick Knecht – Understanding Cultural Resilience and Climate Change on the Bering Sea through Yup'ik Ecological Knowledge, Lifeways, Learning and Archaeology (ELLA). Focusing on the precontact village site of Nunnalleq (AD 1350- 1700) in the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) Delta, this community-based archaeology project aims to use both the products and processes of archaeological research to understand how Yup'ik Eskimos in coastal Western Alaska adapted to rapid climate change in the late prehistoric past, in order to inform and empower descendant Yup'ik communities struggling with contemporary global warming. 

This PhD studentship will focus on the isotope ecology and biogeography of caribou in late Holocene Western Alaska, a key subsistence species for the precontact Yup’ik. Caribou continue to play an important role in the seasonal subsistence menu today, but recent climatic shifts have influenced the seasonality, distribution and migrations of herds, impacting subsistence activities. The impact of larger scale climatic change on this species, such as that experienced during the Little Ice Age (a pre-modern global temperature excursion event), is not known, but may provide vital clues about future variability. 

Through the sequential-sampling and subsequent strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of archaeological caribou teeth, this project will reconstruct migratory behaviour of this species in different phases of the Nunalleq site, mapping variations in the behaviour of this prey species during the Little Ice Age. Archaeological data will be compared to the behaviour of modern herds in the region, in order to establish any broad-scale diachronic trends, providing insights into the long-term effects climate change may have on caribou in the Y-K Delta. Data will be compared with isotope data from on-going palaeodietary studies and procurement technologies at the site, relating possible changes in the ecology of this species to subsistence choices and technology. The importance of caribou to modern and archaeological groups in the Y-K Delta will be explored, with reference to their subsistence, technological and ideological roles. 

Analytical work will take place in laboratories at the University of Aberdeen, and at Memorial University, Newfoundland. 

We are looking for talented and ambitious researchers in the relevant discipline.
Your qualifications should include: 
• an undergraduate degree in Archaeology (or related discipline) with first class honours or upper second class honours (or equivalent) 
• a master's degree in Archaeology (or related discipline) with an excellent academic record 
• excellent command of English and good academic writing skills 
• experience of archaeological laboratory work is essential, experience with stable isotope analysis, zooarchaeology, and/or Arctic archaeology is highly desirable 
• student must be prepared (and eligible) to travel to the USA and Canada, and is expected to participate in archaeological fieldwork in Alaska  

In addition to the online form, applications should include the following: 
1) A personal statement introducing yourself, describing your motivation to conduct the research, and placing your interests/experience within the context of the project and the range of work conducted by the Department of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen, and the ELLA project. 
2) A full CV demonstrating academic excellence, including publications and presentations (if applicable)  

The third supervisor on this project is Dr. Vaughan Grimes (external advisor, Memorial University, Newfoundland)  

The start date for this project is flexible, but should be between February 1st and August 1st 2014 (a later start date in Autumn 2014 may be negotiable.

Funding notes:
Available to UK nationals who have been normally resident in the UK for the three years prior to nomination for funding. If a student is a national of a Member State of the EU other than the UK, they are eligible for a full studentship award if they can establish a relevant connection with the UK and Islands, i.e. if they have been ordinarily resident in the UK throughout the three year period immediately preceding the start of their course. EU students who cannot establish a relevant connection may be eligible for fees-only award. For full details please visit this website.

 


Application Procedure 

Formal applications can be completed online

You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form. You should also indicate that you are self-funded.

Informal enquiries can be made to, Dr Kate Britton (k.britton@abdn.ac.uk) or Dr Rick Knecht (r.knecht@abdn.ac.uk), University of Aberdeen. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit (cpsgrad@abdn.ac.uk). 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Digging deeper: Late Holocene Dietary Change in the San Francisco Bay Area

This month's Digging Deeper comes to you from California Archaeology and one of the most popular articles in its online archive, 'Late Holocene Dietary Change in the San Francisco Bay Area' by Eric Bartelink.

Scholars of California prehistory continue to debate the importance of different food resources to the native diet during the late Holocene. Resource intensification models for central California predict temporal declines in the abundance of large game relative to smaller fauna, as well as a shift towards greater use of vegetal foods. These changes are commonly linked to human-driven resource depression and overpopulation, although climatic factors may also have played a role.

This study uses data from stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes of human bone to evaluate evidence of paleodietary change among late Holocene human populations (ca. 4950-200 cal B.P.) from the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, California. Carbon and nitrogen isotope values of bone collagen demonstrate significant temporal variation and indicate a shift in emphasis from high trophic-level marine protein toward a greater emphasis on terrestrial resources and lower trophic-level marine foods. Carbon isotope values of bone apatite provide additional information not recorded in bone collagen, and suggest an increased emphasis on vegetal resources during the latter part of the prehistoric sequence (after ca. 2150 cal B.P.). Alternatively, the isotopic data presented here could provide evidence for regionally specific diets or variation due to human population movement throughout the San Francisco Bay area.

The following is an extract from the article's introduction:

"With an estimated population of at least 310,000 individuals, native California was one of the most densely settled landscapes in North America at the time of European contact. Early researchers attributed this demographic anomaly to California’s natural resource abundance of large game, fish, shellfish, and plant foods. This abundance is often cited as the reason agriculture failed to develop in prehistoric California—it simply was not needed, although some scholars have argued that intensive use of stored food staples (such as acorns and small seeds) can be considered a type of proto-agriculture. The richness and diversity of the central California landscape described in early ethnohistoric accounts further advanced the notion that native peoples had little impact on their natural environment, producing an archaeological record lacking evidence of significant culture change.

Recently, this paradigm has been questioned by scholars arguing that rebounds in game populations during the historic period occurred only after human population numbers declined due to the spread of foreign-introduced infectious diseases. Resource abundance in prehistoric California has been seriously challenged by a number of recent zooarchaeological studies. Archaeofaunal research in the San Francisco Bay area, the Sacramento Valley, and the Pacific Coast shows evidence of resource depression, measured by temporal declines in high return, large game relative to low return, smaller fauna in late Holocene sites. The widespread distribution of mortar and pestle technology, beginning around 4500 cal B.P. in California, has been linked to the shift toward more intensified use of lower return vegetal resources such as acorns and small seeds. These different lines of evidence all suggest that an expansion in diet breadth occurred during the late Holocene in central California."

>> Read the full article for free

Monday, 11 November 2013

What we're looking forward to at Museums 2013

This week we are exhibiting at Museums 2013, the annual conference and exhibition of the Museums Association, in Liverpool, UK and in this week's post Laura Bradford, one of our Publishing Executives, shares her thoughts on the programme...

"This is my first Museums Association conference and judging by the flurry of announcements about themes and keynote speakers, it’s not going to disappoint. In a time of on-going turmoil for the museums and heritage sector, the range of sessions and topics here promise to address the challenges organisations face today and question how they can adapt to survive and flourish. The Museums Association provides a vital resource for news and commentary on the museums sector and I’m sure their conference will once again set to inspire and encourage delegates to tackle the challenges facing museums and heritage organisations today.

Museums 2013 aims to address the matter of wellbeing. Liverpool is leading the 2012 Decade of Health and Wellbeing national campaign and so is perfectly placed to ask these questions. Can museums play a part in improving the wellbeing of their audiences? Should museums concentrate on engaging with audiences rather than protecting their collections? How can museums do this whilst building foundations for the future?

Three key themes set the structure for the conference; ‘The Therapeutic Museum’ asks how museums can play a part in improving mental health and wellbeing. Sessions will look at the partnership and funding opportunities between museum organisations and health and social care providers; engaging and empowering older people to take an active role in museums; and ensuring museums publicise the difference they make to encourage more organisations to follow. Research at the New Walk Museum in Leicester did just that—they studied frequent and infrequent visitors to the museum, and conducted interviews and self-reported data using the State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Participants reported a reduction in their levels of anxiety after visiting the museum. The full study was published in the peer reviewed journal Museums & Social Issues.

‘Tomorrow’s World’ aims to address how organisations can learn from the challenges we face today in order to plan for a sustainable future—not just for the short term, but changes that could shape the museums experience for our grandchildren and great grandchildren. In a time of severe cuts in funding and depleting resources, museums have had to become savvy to new sustainable measures and money saving techniques. Sessions on this theme will explore how to implement new and perhaps leftfield ideas, looking at the unconventional ways in which museums can engage with audiences. The International Museum of Women (IMOW) for example is an online-only museum which has harnessed online technology to create a new way of engaging. Journal of Museum Education has dedicated an issue to the growing use of digital technology in museums and one article by Katherine Whitney explores how the IMOW specifically has used technology to accomplish their aims.

‘The Emotional Museum’ will run sessions addressing whether museums are doing enough to engage with their audiences. In recent years, museums have realised that they need to revolutionise their exhibitions in order to attract diverse audiences—reams of information just doesn’t cut it anymore. Audiences seek more interactive and empathetic information to allow them to engage with the exhibition and make it a memorable experience. Sessions focus on case studies including how some museums have challenged social attitudes relating to prejudices and discrimination, and how other museums have tried to adapt their exhibits to make them more engaging. Journal of Museum Education published a special issue recently on this topic, entitled ‘Protecting the Objects and Serving the Public: an On-going Dialogue’, which seeks to discover how museums can prioritise the visitor engagement whilst maintaining the exhibition of artefacts.

I’ve only looked at the key themes and already run out of space! There is so much to explore at this year’s conference including keynote speeches from the director at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights Ricardo Brodsky, shadow culture minister Helen Goodman, and TV presenter Lucy Worsley; networking events and tours around Liverpool’s top cultural hotspots; workshops on all aspects of museums engagement, as well as CV building workshops and internship management advice. Last but not least, don’t forget to visit the Museums 2013 Exhibition for your chance to meet and network with the world’s leading suppliers and consultants. It’s going to be a busy one!"

Monday, 4 November 2013

I've got the sea, I've got the secret: groundbreaking discoveries at the Sea of Galilee

Column capital and column shaft fragments by the side
of the street in modern Migdal
The Sea of Galilee is quite the hot bed of archaeological activity these days - two articles recently published in Tel Aviv and Palestine Exploration Quarterly have caused a bit of a stir in the archaeology and heritage communities.

'Archaeological Evidence For A Previously Unrecognised Roman Town Near The Sea Of Galilee' by Ken Dark suggests the remains of Dalmanoutha have been discovered, the Biblical town on the shores of the Sea of Galilee mentioned in the Gospel of Mark as the destination of Jesus after he fed 4,000 people with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. The article has been picked up by a number of outlets including Sci-news.com, The Independent, NBC News and The Huffington Post.

Professor Dark offered us his reaction to all the attention:

"My recent paper ‘Archaeological Evidence For A Previously Unrecognised Roman Town Near The Sea Of Galilee’ in Palestine Exploration Quarterly was very widely reported in the world media. While these reports generally accurately summarised the archaeological material, the tentative identification of the site with Biblical Dalmanoutha in my paper is over-emphasised in many of them, sometimes giving the impression that the search for Dalmanoutha was the focus of my research. In fact, the site reported in my paper was found in fieldwork undertaken as part of a far wider multi-period project examining the landscape around the Sea of Galilee, rather than as site-centred ‘Biblical Archaeology’.

What I said about the identification of the site was just that, as this seems to be a large, probably urban, settlement on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, it is logical to suppose that it is mentioned in textual sources. Historians working on this region in the Roman period had suggested that there were textually-attested towns called Tarichaea, Gennesaret, Dalmanoutha and Magadan/Magdala on the coast. As Tarichaea seems to have been south of Tiberias (and so far from this site), Magadan/Magdala is usually said to be the site currently being excavated just south of this ‘new’ settlement, and Gennesaret may be a region-name rather than a locality, that leaves Dalmanoutha. However, I stressed in the conclusion to my paper that this wasn’t the only possible identification."


The Sea of Galilee is Israel's largest salt water lake
'Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Southern Levant' by Dafna Langgut, Israel Finkelstein and Thomas Litt has been published in the latest issue of Tel Aviv and presents a study of fossil pollen grains in sediments extracted from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee which reveals evidence of a climate crisis that traumatised the Near East from the middle of the 13th to the late 12th century BCE. It is claimed the crisis brought about the collapse of the great empires of the Bronze Age. The article was the focus of a lengthy piece in the New York Times as well as being picked up by National Geographic and Phys.org.  

"In a short period of time the entire world of the Bronze Age crumbled," explains one of the authors, Prof. Finkelstein. "The Hittite empire, Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Mycenaean culture in Greece, the copper producing kingdom located on the island of Cyprus, the great trade emporium of Ugarit on the Syrian coast and the Canaanite city-states under Egyptian hegemony – all disappeared and only after a while were replaced by the territorial kingdoms of the Iron Age, including Israel and Judah.

>> Download ‘Archaeological Evidence For A Previously Unrecognised Roman Town Near The Sea Of Galilee for free

>> Download 'Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Southern Levant' for free

Monday, 28 October 2013

Register Now! CHAT 2013 ‘Experience’, London, 8th-10th of November 2013


Register Now! CHAT 2013 ‘Experience’, London, 8th-10th of November 2013
 
The 11th Annual Contemporary and Historical Archaeology in Theory (CHAT) Conference will be held at University College London from the 8th-10th of November 2013. Hosted by UCL Institute of Archaeology and jointly organised by UCL Institute of Archaeology and Atkins, the international conference will explore the experience of archaeology and the archaeology of experience in the present and recent historical past.
 
The conference will present a wide range of innovative new research on contemporary and historical archaeology, heritage and museum studies, as well as film screenings and artworks, to a broad interdisciplinary and international audience. A preliminary conference programme is available on the CHAT website.
 
‘Experience’ represents a significant concern across a wide variety of academic disciplines. We might think of the importance of ‘experience’ to sociological studies of everyday life; it’s central position as a concept within phenomenological approaches to landscapes and the past; the emphasis on the lifeworld in ontological perspectivism and the ‘new’ materialism; the role of experience within certain spiritual and intellectual traditions; the focus on emotional experience in studies of affect; the place of experience in the study of craft and in ethnoarchaeology; and the role of experience within contemporary educational pedagogy.
 
‘Experience’ is central to studies of modernity, which emphasise the peculiarity of the experience of progress, speed, time and place it produces. In The Experience Economy, Pine and Gilmore argued for a late modern shift from a service-based economy to an experience-based one: goods and services come to be valued not so much for their function, but in terms of their engagement of the senses and the experiences that surround their purchase and use. It could be argued that this experience economy is simply a reflection of a broader experience society in which there has been a shift in focus from ‘exhibition’ to ‘experience’, from the ocular to the embodied, in relation to processes of consumption, learning, knowing and ‘being’.
 
Increasingly, ‘experience’ determines the viability of heritage sites and dictates their interpretation: the contemporary heritage landscape—heritage-themed destinations, heritage-led regeneration and branding of place through the enlisting of ‘the past’—explicitly reflects a new concern with experience. In doing so, it exposes major differences in philosophies and taste amongst ‘professionals’ (archaeologists, architects, public historians, heritage managers) and the public. The practice of engaging with and ‘capturing’ oral history, which we might think of as memories of experience, plays an important role in contemporary archaeological narrative. Recent ethnographies of archaeological practice have similarly emphasised the experience of archaeology and its accompanying field and laboratory practices in understanding its history as an academic discipline.
 
Registration for the conference is now open. Fees of £40 for waged participants and £20 for unwaged participants will be used to cover the cost of room hire, tea/coffee, refreshments and lunches. Payments may be made using a credit or debit card. Participants should register in advance of the conference by following the link on the conference website.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Digging Deeper: Ychsma textiles from a Late Horizon burial at Armatambo


For this month's Digging Deeper we are travelling to South America, specifically Peru, to learn about the Ychsma textile style during the Late Horizon. An excavation in 1982 at Armatambo provided the basis for describing the Ychsma textile style during this period and is the subject of the most popular article in the Ñawpa Pacha: Journal of Andean Archaeology online archive, 'Ychsma textiles from a Late Horizon burial at Armatambo' by Mary Frame, Francisco Vallejo, Mario Ruales, and Walter Tosso. The textile data (types of garments, images, design lay-out, fibers, fabric structures, yarn spin, colors, etc.) are extensive enough to distinguish many types of Ychsma-style garments from those of other styles, and to identify similar textiles in museum collections.

The valleys of the Rímac and Lurín rivers were inhabited by the Ychsma polity prior to the Inca and they are known for having built some 40 pyramids associated to the irrigation system of the valleys. They are not known, unfortunately, for their textile style "due to the intensive looting of archaeological sites during the past five centuries".

"Ethnohistoric sources indicate that the señorío of Ychsma occupied the lower and middle sections of the Rimac and Lurín Valleys of coastal Peru during the Late Intermediate Period and Late Horizon. According to Rostworowski (1990), the sub-groups that comprised the señorío shared a common language or dialect and mythical origin, as well as a shared style of dress. In 1982, just ahead of the bulldozer, three of the co-authors of the present article excavated a tomb that contained many fancy textiles in the local style. This important context provides a basis for describing the elite Ychsma textile style during the Late Horizon...burial contexts with concentrations of textiles in the elite local style are rare."

"Textiles recovered by archaeologists in the course of
long-term excavation projects at Pachacamac include plain and checked textiles from a Late Intermediate Period burial, as well as more elaborate textiles that have been identified as Ychsma. The published textiles provide useful data on fibers, colors, and structures of specific Ychsma textiles, but the small number of examples gives a limited picture of the style. Attempts to separate Ychsma textiles without provenience (sometimes referred to as “Rimac” or “Pachacamac” style) from other styles have highlighted certain distinctive types of textiles, such as cotton tapestries, but again, the picture of the style is far from complete."


 >> Read the full article for free





Friday, 11 October 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road? Archaeologists are about to find out...

You may have noticed there's been a lot of news concerning chickens lately, and it's for a good reason. A new research project looking at the history of chickens is hoping to shed light on how the relationship between people and chickens has developed over the last 8,000 years. The project will see researchers dive into archaeological records to investigate the history of the world’s most widely established livestock species, which is descended from the wild jungle fowl of South-East Asia.
 
The project will also investigate the ancient and modern cultural significance of the birds in, for example, religious rituals and cockfighting. Research will include metrical and DNA analysis of modern and ancient chicken bones to trace the development of different breeds. The results of the research will form the basis of a series of exhibitions in museums and other venues throughout the UK making up ‘The Chicken Trail’ that will tell the story of the chicken’s domestication in Europe and there are also plans to display some of the research findings in butcher shops. The project, entitled “Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions”, was made possible with the help of a £1.94 million grant from the AHRC under the Science In Culture Awards Large Grants call. The project will also involve collaboration with academic colleagues across Europe and with poultry breeders and other interested members of the public.

Researchers from Bournemouth University, as well as the Universities of Durham, Nottingham, Leicester, Roehampton and York, will be examining when and how rapidly domesticated chickens spread across Europe and the history of their exploitation for meat and eggs. Bournemouth University is also offering two fully-funded PhD studentships on the subject - 'The Ecology of Chickens Past and Present' and 'Chickens and Archaeological Material Culture'.

These studentships are two of nine that are associated with the Cultural and Scientific Perception of Human-Chicken Interactions Project. This project is largely funded by the AHRC Science in Culture Large Grants scheme but, in addition, seven PhD studentships have been fully funded by four of the six universities involved in the project.

For further details of the projects and how to apply visit the Bournemouth University Graduate School website.  




Friday, 4 October 2013

NEW EVENT: American Anthropological Association 112th Annual Meeting

The 112th AAA Annual meeting will be held at the Chicago Hilton November 20-24, 2013 in Chicago IL. The 2013 annual meeting theme is Future Publics, Current Engagements. The annual meeting starts on Wednesday November 20 at noon and continues through Sunday November 24.

Join the AAA to present your work, exchange ideas and network with colleagues from around the globe. Historically the AAA Annual Meeting has approximately 800 scholarly sessions, 200 special events, and 60 exhibitors.

The 2013 annual meeting theme Future Publics, Current Engagements invites discussions about how anthropological theory and method can provide insight into the human past and emerging future. Anthropologists have long been engaged with diverse publics and with other social sciences. The influence of anthropological methods, concepts and research is growing, as witnessed by the fact that over half of us are now employed outside the academy. Our journals are experimenting with new formats to link research to contemporary concerns. We engage with rapidly changing media technologies to reach diverse audiences and explore different pathways to activism, collaboration, and scholarship. By locating the human at the center of its inquiry, anthropology through all of its fields provide crucial methodological and political insights for other disciplines.

The 2013 annual meeting is dedicated to examining our efforts to transform our disciplinary identity and capacity in terms of knowledge production and relevance in a world of radical change. What is the nature of anthropological knowledge in a world of heterogeneity, interconnectivity and risk? How can we rethink collaborations beyond the categories of researcher/subject, expert/lay, or anthropologist/other? How can we fruitfully participate in interdisciplinary exchanges and projects that engage big questions? How do we nurture and support younger scholars who are struggling to expand the questions and parameters that define the field for a new century? How do ethical considerations shape the practice but also the substance of our scholarship in an imperiled world?

We are at a historical moment when there is healthy interdisciplinary dialogue about theory and method and a search for effective methods for studying globalized futures. Anthropology can take a lead in confronting questions of the human, culture and life itself that engages many disciplines.

Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) is the world's largest organization of individuals interested in anthropology. Although there were several other American anthropological societies in existence at the turn of the 20th century, this new, national organization was formed "to promote the science of anthropology, to stimulate and coordinate the efforts of American anthropologists, to foster local and other societies devoted to anthropology, to serve as a bond among American anthropologists and anthropologic[al] organizations present and prospective, and to publish and encourage the publication of matter pertaining to anthropology".

>> Visit the conference website

Friday, 27 September 2013

Not just for decoration? The significance of jewellery in the Iron Age

It was reported last week that the Yorkshire Museum is trying to raise enough funds to buy an Iron Age bracelet found in North Yorkshire before it is sold privately at auction. The torc is one of two found separately in 2010 and 2011 by metal detector enthusiasts at Towton, near Tadcaster, UK and has been valued at £30,000. The torcs have been dated to about 100 BC to 70 BC and are the first examples of Iron Age jewellery found in the north of England.

I took a look in the online archive to find out more about Iron Age jewellery and came across "Iron Age Hoards of Precious Metals in Palestine – an 'Underground Economy'?" an article by R Kletter published in Volume 35 of Levant. In it the author investigates how hoards of precious metals discovered in Palestine may not only have been for ornamental purposes but perhaps also had social and economic significance.

The following is a excerpt from the article's introduction:

"Hoards containing objects made of precious metals (silver/gold), often buried underneath floors, are a source of immense fascination. They are extremely photogenic, even mysterious: we wonder about the living persons who once held them, and why they concealed and never retrieved such hoards. What happened to the owners? In view of this fascination with hoards, this study should open with an apology for not including beautiful illustrations: but the discussion will concern the economics rather than the art-history of hoards. There will not be an exhaustive description of each hoard, nor a detailed typology of the jewelry found in it. Many types of jewelry were manufactured and kept for long periods of time, and their artistic merits have already been discussed at length. Most of the Iron Age hoards from Palestine contain damaged or cut pieces of jewelry and shapeless silver pieces (‘Hacksilber’), rather than whole objects. Hence, they indicate amalgamation of wealth. This is an attempt to understand the meaning of such hoards in terms of economic conditions and possible economic developments in Bronze and Iron Age Palestine."

Although the author goes on the conclude that caution should be used when interpreting hoards of precious metals as anything but that, hoards of precious metals:

"What about the ‘underground economy’ mentioned in the title of this paper? One ponders over the place of hoards in human societies. In dragon-based societies, hoards govern the economy, and influence the neighboring societies of Dwarves and Hobbits alike. By modern economic theory, ‘underground’ hoarding is not logical – capital should be ‘put to work’ to raise more capital (e.g., by interest-bearing loans). There is a famous debate about ancient economics. According to Polanyi, the notion of gain was not crucial, economy was embedded in the society; markets in the sense of price-determining mechanisms did not exist, and modern economic theory is not valid. This has been criticized sharply, and some rule that ancient and modern economics are one and the same. Perhaps Iron Age hoards in Palestine were perfectly logical for a world in which banks were scarce and violent threats common. The age of plastic credit cards and virtual reality, still full of conflicts and wars, does not mark the end of the phenomenon of hoarding."

>> Read the full article for free

Monday, 23 September 2013

Digging deeper: The Personal Carriage of Arrows from Hastings to the Mary Rose

It's time to dig deep in the archives again and this week we will be looking at 'The Personal Carriage of Arrows from Hastings to the Mary Rose', the most popular article published in Arms & Armour.

The article is written by Jonathan Waller and John Waller and focuses on the often overlooked aspect of archery in the Middle Ages - how one transports one's arrows. It details the variety of manners in which this was done over the centuries - quivers, girdles, and cases all feature - and uses the specific (and fascinating) example of arrows used in King Henry VIII's campaign in France and the sinking of the Mary Rose in 1545.

The authors explain that "Certainly by the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, English arrows were fitted with smaller heads on lighter shafts. But how did Henry VIII’s principal archers carry their lighter sheaf arrows? We are very fortunate to have many illustrations of Tudor archers in the Cowdray Engravings. These engravings were copies of the original paintings in Cowdray House at Midhurst in Sussex. This was the home of Sir Anthony Browne, Master of Horse to Henry VIII. In this capacity he accompanied the King on his expedition of France in 1544. Sir Anthony commissioned five large paintings which accurately portrayed the king’s campaign in France and the events in the Solent in 1545 including the sinking of the Mary Rose. In 1785, these paintings were copied, at the behest of the Society of Antiquities of London, as engravings. These were published in 1788. This was very fortunate as Cowdray House was largely destroyed by fire in 1793 and the paintings with it. This left the engravings as the only detailed pictorial source of reference of Henry’s campaign and the sinking of his flagship the Mary Rose."

They go on to conclude that "When the principal archers, each with his bow in its case and a sheaf of arrows in their soft quiver, were about to embark they would cover the fletchings with its soft leather cover and close the top with its drawstring. Then tying their girdles around the middle of their quivers with a constrictor knot, to hold the arrows more firmly, they would wrap the remaining ends of the girdle around the soft body of the quiver and loosely tie the ends together. This would ensure the protection of their arrows by the collective strength created. It would also make it easier for them to carry both their bow and arrows on board and stow them in any space the archers were given for their berths on the ship. If and when they were called to action it would be a matter of seconds to release the girdle from around their quivers, uncover the arrows, sling the girdles over their shoulders, string their bows and they were ready for action. Associated with some spacers found on the Mary Rose, were traces of woven material, pieces of soft leather and what are described as strips of leather, some of which were tied around of the remaining arrows in spacers.

These are probably the remains of some Cowdray quivers and similar in construction to the ‘lost quiver’ examined by Grose. If the quivers were full and still tied at both ends, which we shall never know, this could perhaps mean that some of the archers on board the Mary Rose, never readied their arrows for combat. Records tell us that at no time before her sinking during the battle, was the Mary Rose at a fighting distance close enough to the French ships, during the battle, which would have allowed for advantageous deployment of her archers. We shall never know how many archers were standing to, bows in hand, arrows in their quivers at the ready, when the ship went down. What we do know is that some archers left their arrows in their quivers unused when the Mary Rose sank to the bottom of the Solent on that fateful day in 1545. Now, after 500 years, however, perhaps we have gone some way in shedding some light on the connection between Mr Grose’s ‘Ancient Quiver’ and the remains of the quivers on the Mary Rose, and helped explain the practicalities of the ways in which arrows could be carried and drawn."

>> Read the full article for free

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Return of Aesthetics to Archaeology


Ancient Egyptian funerary mask at the
Oriental Museum, Durham University
Why is ‘aesthetics’ a dirty word in archaeology? Can its archaeological study be reinvigorated, particularly with the help of philosophers and anthropologists?
 
Come and join the discussion at a workshop to be held at the University of London’s Senate House on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th November 2013.
 
The workshop is organised within the framework of an AHRC-funded Research Network Group project focused on ‘The Ethics and Aesthetics of Archaeology’. 
 
This wider project brings together philosophers, archaeologists and museum and heritage practitioners in order to focus on the relation between ethics and aesthetics, and explore how this relation shapes the understanding and practice of archaeological stewardship. The main premise underlying our multidisciplinary project is the idea that research into the ethics of stewardship (including moral obligations, duties and respect) will be enhanced significantly by an increased understanding of the role played by the aesthetic character of historical objects in influencing the moral relations we have with them and their makers.
 
The project is directed by two members of staff from Durham University: Dr Elisabeth Schellekens Dammann (Department of Philosophy) and Dr Robin Skeates (Department of Archaeology). They are assisted by Dr. Andreas Pantazatos (Co-Director of the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage).
 
The London workshop is generously sponsored by the University of London’s Institute of Philosophy. It is open to all, free of charge. Visit our project website for further details.
 
If you intend to attend, do please let us know, by sending an email to Dr Elisabeth Schellekens Dammann.

Friday, 6 September 2013

The first free African-American settlement and resistance against slavery

It was reported earlier this month that archaeologists from the University of Maryland and Morgan State University have uncovered evidence that suggests Treme, in New Orleans, is not the oldest free black community (it was established in 1812) in the US as first thought. Findings from the dig at The Hill in Easton, MD including bits of glass, shards of pottery and oyster shells indicate that the community was established in 1790 by former slaves who had bought their freedom.
 
The founding of such communities presents the often overlooked theory of a cultural resistance to slavery, something considered by Kalle Kananoja in his article 'Pai Caetano Angola, Afro-Brazilian Magico-Religious Practices, and Cultural Resistance in Minas Gerais in the Late Eighteenth Century' which is included in a special issue of Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage on Atlantic approaches on resistance against slavery in the Americas. In the issue's introduction, Ana Lucia Araujo explains that:
 
"The authors examine unexplored aspects of individual and collective actions led by enslaved men and women, by developing a broad definition of resistance that does not always encompass violence, but also includes cultural and religious forms of resistance. Using several kinds of primary sources and approaching resistance from an Atlantic perspective, the authors examine slave rebellions, runaway slave communities, slave and abolitionist networks, as well as African religious traditions...numerous studies addressed the issue of violent collective resistance against slavery, especially in the USA and the Caribbean. However, with some welcome exceptions, most recent scholarship that attempts to provide an international perspective to resistance and the fight against slavery also continues to privilege the English-speaking world and the North Atlantic region.
 
Moreover, by defining resistance as a synonym with rebellion and envisioning the Haitian Revolution as the only successful rebellion in the Americas, most book-length studies barely address the role of everyday forms of individual and collective resistance. As a result, despite their great value, these works fail to discuss cultural forms of resistance and address the role of women in slave resistance."

>> Read the full introduction for free

>> Read the full article for free

>> "Archaeology dig may uncover nation's earliest free African-American settlment"



 




Thursday, 29 August 2013

Structure from Motion Based 3D Modeling: A realistic option for archaeological recording and digital heritage management

In this week's blog post the Journal of Field Archaeology editorial team provide an overview of the exciting progress that is being made with motion based 3D modeling software and its applications to field archaeology.
 
Figure depicting how the site of Tel Akko was modeled using PhotoScan Pro
"Following recent developments in structure from motion based 3D modeling software, which allows one to create a 3D model using a collection of digital photographs, archaeologists have sought to utilize such technologies in the field. While the incorporation of 3D modeling in archaeology is not a novel concept, previous attempts using expensive laser scanners or complex modeling programs prevented the majority of projects from adopting a 3D approach for various facets of the archaeological process.  In “The Tel Akko Total Archaeology Project (Akko, Israel): Assessing the Suitability of Multi-Scale 3D Field Recording in Archaeology,” an article published in the latest issue of the Journal of Field Archaeology, Brandon R. Olson, Ryan A. Placchetti, Jamie Quartermaine, and Ann E. Killebrew argue that with the release of a handful of programs capable of creating 3D models using digital photographs over the last 3 years, most notably PhotoScan Pro, it is now possible to three dimensionally model any archaeological target of interest ranging in size from an individual artifact to entire sites and landscapes. The authors note that their approach does not suffer from the shortcomings of previous 3D applications. Their system is simple and straightforward, taking less than an afternoon to train project members to use the technology and, at less than $4000 USD to purchase a program license and moderately equipped desktop, cost effective.
 
Already others have adopted Tel Akko’s approach and commented on its utility and potential, as evidenced by a blog post from The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World. Now that a protocol for producing accurate and photorealistic 3D models of archaeological features has been created, one must now question how and in what way this technology can be harnessed to address specific archaeological questions and facilitate digital heritage management over the long term. Ultimately it will be up to the archaeological community to continue to foster the development of 3D technology in archaeology, but the authors rightly point out its potential in stating:
 
'Archaeological documentation is often developed with the scholarly community in mind [and] has a public mission to reveal the past and preserve it in a way that is culturally meaningful. In the past, sensational archaeological discoveries were built around spectacles of gold and monumental finds. The grandeur of spectacular archaeological finds may have diminished, but public fascination remains. By developing visually rich and easily accessible resources, archaeologists can invoke wonder at the ancient world. In the same way that the archaeologists of the past inspired public interest in archaeology by filling museums, the modern archaeologist can contribute to a virtually limitless digital repository'."