I tweeted throughout my day of archaeology so I’ve storified the tweets, its a tale of trains, bones, coffee and diseased chickens, enjoy.
I tweeted throughout my day of archaeology so I’ve storified the tweets, its a tale of trains, bones, coffee and diseased chickens, enjoy.
I am a part-time postgraduate student, currently working towards an MSc in Archaeological Research at the University of Nottingham, which will take two years to complete. I’ve come back to archaeology after a long break, during which time I have pursued my career in research and academic computing. However, I am still in love with archaeology so my long-held ambition to do a further degree in the subject is at last being realised and I am really enjoying it, despite all the late nights reading and working on essays after I’ve finished my day job. As a mature student, I was concerned at first that I would find it difficult to fit in. However, the staff and my fellow students have been really encouraging, which is helping to make the whole experience very satisfying.
The taught part of our course has finished for this year, so it’s now time to get down to preparing for the research work which will form the basis of the 15,000 word dissertation we must submit and which accounts for a third of the credits on our course. I’m interested in the application of scientific techniques in archaeology, which has influenced my choices of modules, including archaeobotany and zooarchaeology, and my research will be using a fascinating technique, stable isotope analysis, to try to answer some interesting archaeological questions. Continue Reading →
Centro di Documentazione Intercomunale di Archeologia Medievale e Postmedievale della Bassa Val di Cecina
The excavations started in 2005 and were completed in 2010, now we are completing work on the opening to the public.
The team is composed of professional archaeologists and researchers from the University of Pisa. In these months we are studying the finds (pottery, metal and bones) and organizing the archaeological record for final publication and WebGIS.
Thanks to archaeological research in the municipality of Montescudaio (PI), which started back in 2004, today we achieved a complete map of the main evidences and the most important monuments of cultural interest.
Among these, since the beginning of the survey emerged the so called “Badia” (abbey), the Benedectine convent dedicated to Saint Mary born at the end of the XI century. Its significance is due both to the importance of the site through the centuries and to the strong connections between the monastery and the town community.
And it’s exactly in the area known as “Badia” that, since the summer 2005, with the cooperation between the municipal administation and the University of Pisa, the archaeological research is recovering the remains of this beautiful church ad the surrounding cloister.
(Italian National Association of Archaeologists)
Andreazzoli F., Baldassarri M. 2006, Il monastero di S. Maria di Montescudaio e l’insediamento medievale in Bassa Val di Cecina: nuove acquisizioni dalle recenti indagini storico-archeologiche, in Marucci C., Megale C. (a cura di), Il Medioevo nella provincia di Livorno. I risultati delle recenti indagini, Livorno, Pacini Editore, pp. 75-88.
Baldassarri M. 2008, Il monastero di S. Maria e l’insediamento medievale nel territorio di Montescudaio (Pisa), in Campana S., Felici C., Francovich R., Gabrielli F. (a cura di), Chiese e insediamenti nei secoli di formazione dei paesaggi medievali della Toscana (V-X secolo), Atti del Seminario (10-11 Novembre, S. Giovanni d’Asso), Firenze, All’Insegne del giglio, pp. 391-422.
Baldassarri M. (con testi di Andreazzoli F., Baldassarri M., Dadà M., Giorgio M., Pagni G.) 2009, Lo scavo della Badia di Santa Maria a Montescudaio, in Storia di Montescudaio, Pisa, Felici Editore, pp. 71-94.
Baldassarri M., Del Greco S., Giorgio M., Naponiello G. 2012, Il monastero di Santa Maria di Montescudaio (PI): un cenobio femminile nell’organizzazione territoriale della Bassa Val di Cecina medievale, in Atti VI Congresso Nazionale di Archeologia Medievale, Firenze, All’Insegna del Giglio, pp.
Baldassarri M., Lemmi F., Naponiello G., Otera C. 2012, Dallo studio del territorio ad un webGIS 2.0 per la Bassa Val di Cecina, in Pre-Atti Opening the Past. Archaeological Open Data, http://mappaproject.arch.
Its the third season for the field school and community archaeology project at Blackfriary, Trim, Co. Meath. Blackfriary is a 13th century friary, the buildings were sold off for stone the 18th however sub-surface foundations and other features still survive and archaeological excavation is ongoing to discover extent of these.
Photo 1 Exposed masonry on site
Today, the 29th of June, ends the fifth week of season three at Blackfriary. The season has been flying in and we have already seen a number of students come and go. We are nearly half way through the season with only six weeks left on site for 2012.
The excavation at Blackfriary is also part of a community archaeology project; the field school works alongside the local council and community groups to provide a programme of events to engage the local community with the project, from understanding the archaeology of the site to integrating the Blackfriary as part of the Trim townscape.
As an intern with the IAFS the first thing I have learned is that no day on site is ever the same! This is due to the coming together of different groups of people from schools groups to students, and from local visitors to tourists (as well as the unpredictable Irish summer weather).
On a daily basis the field school teaches students the skills and techniques for excavating features along with skills such as planning and drawing that help to record finds and features and assisting in the archiving of the site. Another key learning outcome for non-Irish students is how to make the perfect pot of tea!
Photo 2 Students practicing excavation and recording skills
The second thing I have learned as an intern at the Blackfriary is to be prepared for a lot of bones (and it’s a good thing that I’m not squeamish)!
On site, to date, there have been nine burials found, and countless amounts of disarticulated human bone. We had a resident bio-archaeologist on site for the month of June, Professor Rachel Scott of Arizona State University.
Photo 3 Contemplating an infant burial
She gave a module on bio-archaeology and osteoarchaeology, teaching students the techniques to excavate, record and process human remains. Following this module, one of our students, Anna from Macalester College, was able to give a presentation to a groups of forty plus high school students visiting from the USA, presenting and explaining the bones found on site.
Photo 4 Excavation in progress – Rachel and the infant burial
Photo 5 A presentation on bones to students
The site is located in the centre of a housing estate which many people walk past or use to walk their dogs on a daily basis. This means there is a lot of interaction with residents of the local community and a common part of a days dig can be showing locals around the site and explaining to them both what is being excavated and being found.
Photo 6 Giving visiting high school a tour of the site
A further mix of interactions is with tourists who visit the site through Cultural Tourism Ireland. Through CTI members of the public with an interest in heritage and archaeology come on site and experience the process of excavation for themselves.
Throughout the dig the coming together of this large and diverse group of international budding archaeologists, Irish students, local community members, site visits from school children and those with a keen and common interest in the heritage of Ireland adds to (and in my opinion enriches) the experience of being on site.
Photo 7 Blackfriary crew in action
Caroline Henry, Heritage Intern with the Irish Archaeology Field School: reporting for Day of Archaeology 2012
Although we are zooarchaeologists, not a single archaeological animal bone has passed across our desks this week! Instead we’ve been working on sector support projects. Today we have been working on the Animal Bones and Archaeology Guidelines. This is one of the English Heritage guidelines for best practice in archaeological science, which we will be publishing in 2013. The Guidelines will provide advice about how to ensure that due consideration is given to the information potential, recovery and analysis of animal bones from archaeological projects, from the start of a project to final archiving of animal bones, and publication. It covers general project management, field and laboratory procedures (sampling, assessment, analysis and archiving of animal bones), and general methodological (for example, taxonomic identification or biometry) and specialist taxonomic sections (eg. small mammals and amphibians, bird bones, fish). The specialist sections have been written by colleagues working in a range of universities, and archaeological units, along with some sections we’ve written ourselves. They have all now mostly been submitted and we are beavering away on management and procedural sections. We are planning on holding a preliminary review of the Guidelines at the next PZG (Professional Zooarchaeology Group) meeting planned for Saturday, July 14th, so working hard to get it all pulled together in time!
For us the PZG is one of the highlights of our role within zooarchaeology. It’s an interest group, which we’ve helped coordinate from its inception about seven years ago. It now has about 80 members, all animal bone specialists working in the commercial, academic and public sectors (have a look here if you’d like further information on the group). We meet twice a year to study a particular topic, often taught by members themselves, with anywhere from around 15 to 25 members attending. The meetings consist of seminars and practical hands-on work, short presentations of particular case studies, of work recently completed or in progress by members (employer agreement permitting!), and we also hold a mini taxonomic workshop, during which we review the identification criteria for distinct taxa and run blind tests, just to keep us on our toes!
We are hosting the forthcoming PZG, so another of today’s tasks was administration and planning for the meeting. Its taxonomic workshop will focus on distinguishing sheep and goats’ bones and teeth – they are more similar than you might think! Over the years, focused studies have identified several criteria, which can tell them apart, so today we have been compiling worksheets which draw together relevant references that we’ll use at the workshop to test out the criteria on some our reference skeletons. In the afternoon of the meeting we’re planning a visit to the Iron Age farm at Butser, where Peter Reynolds originally set up different experiments in Iron Age husbandry. We’ll have a tour of the structures and activities, and in the evening Butser is also holding the Lughnasa festival. Who says you can’t combine work and play!
This is the first ‘Day of Archaeology’ that we (Eastbourne Ancestors) have taken part in and so we are quite excited to be involved!
I’m also excited as this is my first full time job in archaeology as the Project Co-ordinator for Eastbourne Ancestors. I work in the commercial world of archaeology as an osteoarchaeologist (human and animal remains) in my spare time too, as well as excavating with a local society and the Eastbourne Museum Service. Archaeology is for everyone and I strongly believe in the community aspect, getting hands on.
You can follow our progress here: http://www.facebook.com/EastbourneAncestors
Although the ‘Day of Archaeology 2012′ fell on 29th June, I was in meetings which wouldn’t have made for exciting reading…but today is a different story.
We are a Heritage Lottery Funded project run by the Eastbourne Museum Service in East Sussex. Our aim is to To fully examine all the human skeletal remains in our collection from the Eastbourne area in order to produce a demographic profile of the past populations that were living here.
The skeletal analysis will include determining the age, biological sex, stature, metric and non-metric traits, ancestry, health, diet, handedness and evidence of pathology. We will also be conducting research into migration studies using isotope analysis, physical appearance using facial reconstruction and family connections, DNA and C14.
As part of this project, we will be giving volunteers the opportunities to participate in artefact conservation, osteoarchaeology workshops, field work, study days, talks and demonstrations and much more. We will conclude the project with academic and public published material as well as an exhibition.
On Friday, Jo (the boss) and I took a road trip to Bournemouth University to deliver 30 skeletons to students to study for their MSc dissertations. We also have a student from Exeter University studying clavicles for two weeks with us for her research. In a few months time we will be taking some of the collection to Canterbury University to be studied by their MSc and BSc students too.
Today is our first volunteer day, we have 5 volunteers busily cleaning skeletal remains from an Anglo-Saxon cemetery site in Eastbourne. Each day for a month, volunteers will be helping to get the remains ready for analysis, which they will also receive training for as part of the Project.
By the 2013 ‘Day of Archaeology’ I hope to have some interesting findings to write about: Where did these people come from? Are they local? How did they live and die? What did they wear? What did they look like?
The University of Bradford’s Department of Life Sciences is a busy place. The Phoenix South West Building, a former 19th century mill, is home to disciplines of archaeological science, biological anthropology, environmental sciences and forensic science. On any given day it is a hive of activity full of undergraduates, taught and research postgraduates and staff. On Friday the 29th of July the department was a hive activity with staff and postgraduates’ alike, working hard at their research and general day to day duties. Below are just a few of the activities, taking place in the department, on that day.
For many years I would be on my way to Egypt at this time of year, trying to figure out how to stretch the grant money to cover as much time in the field as possible. But this year I’m in my research lab at the university, working on the final stages of several projects.
As an archaeology student I discovered that I was mainly interested in the people themselves, rather than their garbage. So my specialization is in human skeletal remains (bioarchaeology). I’m particularly interested in how human skeletons reveal aspects of the interrelationships between culture, environment, and health. I have excavated ancient cemeteries in Egypt and Pakistan, and have studied human skeletal remains from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley Civilization, and from historic cemeteries of the Fur Trade Period in western Canada.
Today I’m examining 2,000 year old human bones and teeth for evidence of fractures and various forms of disease.
Usually there are one or two interesting or important discoveries made in the field, but often the significance of your work isn’t clear until you’ve had a chance to examine all of the finds and to determine where they fit in the big picture of the site, and of the ancient culture more broadly. That process usually takes years!
I also study the historic and prehistoric ways in which people dealt with their dead. With this research I don’t excavate, but instead I examine the above-ground and archival record of historic cemeteries in western Canada in order to assess the fit between archaeological interpretive models for prehistoric cemeteries and the documented evidence for burial practices.
If you’d like to learn more about my research, please check the website on my profile.
This is my last summer of ‘freedom’ before I start writing up my PhD thesis, and so I thought I would spend some time avoiding my database and volunteering for the WEA, who are now well into the first year of their Inclusive Archaeology Education Project. The project is being rolled out across Yorkshire and the Humber, and aims to provide opportunities for people under-represented in archaeology to learn about and participate in archaeology.
The three year project will enable 300 people, including adults with learning disabilities, mental health service users, adults with physical disabilities and members of black, asian and minority ethnic communities to get involved in archaeology. The courses include a classroom component and then a number of field trips to archaeological sites across the region.
This week I was involved in a ‘bones’ session with the Sheffield group. A couple of us from the Osteoarchaeology group at the University of Sheffield ran a session looking at both human and animal bones. This involved an ‘exploding sheep’ activity, where each of the learners were given some bones from a sheep and had to work out what part of the body they were from, and re-fit them. We also did a similar activity for our human skeleton. We also talked about bones from different animals and the learners had to guess which animals some bones belonged to. It was a great afternoon, the learners were very enthusiastic about the activities, and we had loads of fun!
I’m very much looking forward to volunteering on some of the upcoming field trips with the group over the next month. It has been a pleasure working with them!
To find out more about the Inclusive Archaeology Education Project then visit their blog here: http://digability.wordpress.com
To find out about Zooarchaeology and Human Osteology at the University of Sheffield go to: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/archaeology
Rescue excavations – the curse and boon of our profession. We may bleed for the heritage sites that are lost forever, but without the expansion of modern society we would get very little chance to peek into prehistory on a grand scale. This summer there are a lot of archaeologists crawling around Gamla (Old) Uppsala in Sweden, the idyllic suburb north of present day Uppsala, where the impressive great burial mounds of some undisclosed Iron Age VIPs still stand.
Urbanisation came late to this part of Northern Europe, but Uppsala was probably one of the first places in Sweden where this happened, sometime in the Early Middle Ages (or Late Iron Age as the period is still called here in Scandinavia). Exactly when – and how – is a matter of fierce debate, so you can imagine the gleeful joy with which archaeologists here greeted the fact that the railroad drawn straight through Gamla Uppsala needed to be expanded. It’s a massive project involving thousands of square meters of Iron Age and Medieval settlement sites as well as an Iron Age cemetery. It is also one of the most protected heritage areas in Sweden, so the project is a collaborative effort involving our own firm SAU, the Uppland County Museum, as well as the archaeological unit of the National Heritage Board. The more the merrier!
Not that I get to stick my fingers into the rich, dark culture layers with amulet rings and bear claw clasps, stuck behind a desk as I am doing administrative work as usual. But I manage to sneek out now and then and visit my colleagues in the field. So far the SAU team have found parts of a smithy and several pit houses, as well as long houses from the Vendel and Viking periods (c. 550-750 CE and 750-1050 CE respectively). The cremation cemetery that was identified in a field during last year’s test excavations has turned out to be much larger and more well preserved that we had expected – which is fun but, as we all know, also a bit of a headache for the County Museum that oversees the excavation. The osteologists from SAU will have their hands full, analysing all the cremated human and animal bones.
Still, contrary to popular opinion not all archaeologists are out in the field during the summer. Some have been chained to their desk to finish up a report on sites in that we excavated a few years ago. These Bronze and Early Iron Age sites and burials in Northeastern Uppland were established during a perod where the region changed from archipleago, to coast, to inland due to the shore displacement going on since the end of the Ice Age. Today we were frantically double and triple checking the text and illustrations before handing in the manuscript to the Uppsala County Board, who will decide if it can be published.
Afterwards we celebrated. On Monday we continue with other projects at hand, or in a few cases, actually take a vacation…
If you find yourselves in the vicinity of Uppsala this summer and autumn, be sure to visit us – we have guided tours in English as well.
#dayofarch on twitter
Webby: Download and display the #dayofarch poster at work! http://t.co/RSahYxlxqr #archaeology #crmarch http://t.co/Xy9yjJb0Ut
Kelly M: Link to PDF poster has been added to original blog post. Feel share to share/RT!> Day of Archaeology 2013 http://t.co/cyrbqq8WnC #dayofarch
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