Archaeology of the Americas

Feeding Stonehenge – a view from the laboratory

Large pottery sherd from Durrington Walls

So, today is another day of laboratory work for me. I work as a research associate in the BioArCh group at the Department of Archaeology, University of York. I am part of a large team of archaeologists working on the AHRC funded Feeding Stonehenge project, which is investigating the provisioning and consumption patterns of people who lived at Neolithic Durrington Walls – the settlement site associated with the construction of Stonehenge. My role in the project is to analyse the distinctive Grooved Ware pottery for food residues and to see if there were differences in the types of food products that were being consumed by different households, and to see whether certain animals were selected for feasting. I have already looked at over 300 individual pottery sherds, and today I’ll be analysing another 10-20. I’ll also be supervising undergraduate students who have recently started their dissertation projects, working on pottery from other archaeological sites. One student is carrying out work on modern reference pottery that has been used to cook and process marine animals. The results from these experimental studies can be used to help us interpret what we find in archaeological pottery. The day starts off by coming into the lab and switching on the kit in the fume hood – we have to heat the samples to 70 degrees so I have to do this first so it gets up to the right temperature. Then it’s time for the first coffee of the day….


A Day in the Life of Tuzusai

Tuzusai is an Iron Age site in southeastern Kazakhstan that dates from 400 BC to AD 100.   Our 2012 field season began in early June.  Now one month into our excavations with local workers, we have discovered a house platform and its associated living surface.  In the two weeks a series of smashed storage vessels, jars and cooking vessels have been uncovered on the mud brick platform.  This is the first intact mud brick dwelling on the upper levels found, since large portions of the site have been destroyed by ploughing and re-surfacing, some which took place during the 1960s with the construction of the Big Almatinsky Canal.  Twelve burial kurgans (Iron Age burial mounds) were destroyed.