Culture

A Day with Macedonian Archaeology – Archaeological site Stybera, R. Macedonia (PHOTO)

Archaeological site Bedem (Stybera),  near the village Cepigovo, Prilep, Macedonia. Excavations at the ancient city of  Stybera that existed from 3rd century BC to 4th century AD. In previous research campaigns we have discovered a temple dedicated to the protector of the city, the goddess Tihe and a gymnasium complex. In this year excavations we discovered four objects : the city altar, a metallurgy workshop, a sanctuary of the god with a bird face – perhaps Horus and a monumental building  with walls decorated in luxury stucco technique and  a lower zone colored in red – maybe the Bouleuterion of the city Stybera. By Dusko Temelkoski, project manager, NI Institute and Museum Prilep

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Bouleuterion

The city altar ( I – II century AD)

The metallurgy workshop ( I – II century AD )

The sanctuary of the god with a bird face – perhaps Horus ( II – III century AD )


Archaeology in the margins

Some days, archaeology only creeps into the margins of one’s day or one’s plans. It might be in one’s social media “feeds” or compilations of news tidbits; it might be in “calls for proposals,” conference announcements, or correspondences with fellow archaeologists.

Today for instance, my immersion within pure archaeological bounds/boundaries was quite minimalist, not necessarily by design, but rather, because that’s how some things play out.

In one regard, that frustrates me, especially when hearing and seeing what is being done around the globe in investigation, lab work, preservation, conservation, education, etc. as it just feels as though I could and would want to do more, but it is something I accept the same too.

When I teach, it primarily is sociology, cultural anthropology, or nowadays, even biological anthropology (human evolution specifically); there just are not the archaeology courses left to teach. Even still, I keep the archaeology in the margins, mixing it in as examples relate, as questions correspond, or as it supports learning and increases engagement. I also informally educate K-12 students in informal workshops when I can, with mock dig boxes, pseudo-soil stratigraphy boxes (use paint chips as Munsell charts!) In that regard, the passion for archaeology is still there, but it is leveling out with my passions across all disciplines of anthropology, along with my work experiences as a more generalist, and as an anthropologist.

While I still read up on archaeology and keep current that way, I see myself and identify myself more as an anthropologist first rather than as an archaeologist, in part because it steers more away from “where/when was your last dig” or even, “how do you get a job in that” discourse. The archaeology identity is there, but like much of textual analysis and translation; it is more in the margins than sprawled across the daily or even the monthly calendar personally.

For that reason, although I blogged since the inception of Day of Archaeology in 2011, I think I am going to transition into reading the entries and in that way leave archaeological blogging in the margins. It has been an enjoyable time, and the more I get to know the bloggers, the more I know I will still have the means to relate and to exchange information, just like good marginalia notes do for translations and for deep textual analysis. I will forever support this international blogging cause, as I will always be an archaeologist at heart.

Maya Research Program’ s 23rd archaeological field season in Belize

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What is the Maya Research Program?

The Maya Research Program is a U.S.-based non-profit organization (501C3) that sponsors archaeological and ethnographic research in Middle America. Each summer since 1992, we have sponsored archaeological fieldwork in northwestern Belize and ethnographic research in the village of Yaxunah, Mexico. The Maya Research Program is affiliated with the University of Texas at Tyler.

Our goal is, first and foremost, to conduct research that helps us better understand the complex ancient societies of the Americas. MRP is proud to have a diverse staff of talented scientists contributing to this goal and many of our affiliated scholars are recognized as leaders in their fields. Recent support has come from the Archaeological Institute of America, National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, the Heinz Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. In addition, the Blue Creek field school has been certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists and the project was recognized as the winner of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Excavation Outreach contest.

Another key MRP goal is to encourage the participation of students and volunteers — anyone who wants to experience the real world of archaeological or anthropological research and understand how we learn about cultures may join us. We see this as a critical educational component of MRP’s work and it helps us accomplish our research goals as well. The ages of our participants range from 18 to over 80. So many of our participants return year after year that MRP has become an extended family. About half of our participants are university students under 30 years old and the other half are professionals and retirees. While the majority of participants come from the United States and Canada, we have students from Australian,  European, Latin American, and Japanese institutions as well. For students, academic credit can usually be arranged either via UTT or the student’s home institution. Many of our students go on to become successful graduate students in archaeology or a related field and return to focus on MRP projects for their theses and dissertations.

In 2014 and 2015 we again offer opportunities to participate in our field program and learn about the Maya of the past and today. The Blue Creek Archaeological Project is open to student and non-student participants, regardless of experience. The field school has been certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists and participants will receive training in archaeological field and laboratory techniques. Academic credit and scholarships are available. We invite students and volunteers to participate in the Maya Research Program’s  archaeological field season in northwestern Belize.

2014 Season Dates:
Session 1: Monday May 26 to Sunday June 8
Session 2: Monday June 9 to Sunday June 22
Session 3: Monday June 30 to Sunday July 13
Session 4: Monday July 14 to Sunday July 27

2015 Season Dates:

Session 1: Monday June 1st to Sunday June 14th

Session 2: Monday June 15th to Sunday June 28th

Session 3: Monday July 6th to Sunday July 19th

Session 4: Monday July 20th to Sunday August 2nd

If you are interested in joining the team this summer or next  – please get in touch soon as space is limited! If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to contact us:

Maya Research Program
1910 East Southeast Loop 323
#296; Tyler, Texas 75701
Phone: 817-831-9011
Email: mrpinquiries@gmail.com

MRP’s 23rd archaeological field season in Belize

The Maya Research Program is having a very successful 23rd archaeological field season in northwestern Belize! This summer we are concentrating on the site of Xnoha. Xnoha is a medium sized Maya center located on the edge of the Alacranes Bajo. We are delineating the architecture of the site core, three of its elite residences, and a possible shrine structure. In addition, we have recorded and conserved the mural recovered from Tulix Mul, secured numerous soil samples from wetland features, and finalized excavations at “Alvin’s Cave” and “Rice Mill Cave 3.” Our bioarchaeology field school is active this session and we are looking forward to our 3D modeling and photogrammetry workshop next week.  If you are interested in seeing weekly updates from the field – you can follow our progress on our Facebook page or via the photo gallery on our website.

 


Living Kirkyards in the Clyde and Avon Valleys

Written by Sarah Phillips, Built and Cultural Heritage Officer, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership

Graveyards capture a sense of place unlike any other historic sites. Wandering within their walls, visitors reading the richly detailed gravestone carvings and inscriptions are rewarded with glimpses of a day-to-day life long since lost.  Today, these historic graveyards are also outdoor museums teeming with life from the fauna and flora which live there.

Dr Susan Buckham, Kirkyard Consulting

Over the past few months the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) has been working with graveyard specialist Dr Susan Buckham to develop a conservation strategy and action plan for rural, historic graveyards within the project boundaries. We think these are valuable places, both for their natural and cultural heritage, which need our care and attention.

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St Patrick’s Churchyard, Dalzell

In January, CAVLP commissioned Dr Susan Buckham, of Kirkyard Consulting with Fiona Fisher from the Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust to undertake a conservation strategy for our local kirkyards because..

Although graveyards are often found in every community, actually we know surprisingly little about them. Eight different graveyards have been surveyed as part of this project to identify interesting gravestones and buildings and the habitat, aesthetic and amenity values of their landscapes. Fieldwork also measures how well this important resource is faring against the effects of time, the elements and management issues. Studies like this help us better understand what’s unique and special about graveyards so that we can ensure their protection and promotion to a wide audience.

Dr Susan Buckham, Kirkyard Consulting

The burial grounds surveyed all have interesting aspects to focus on, from churchyards such as St. Ninian’s at Stonehouse to cemateries like the 1906 lawn cemetery, also at Stonehouse.  There are small estate burials, such as Mauldslie and  a pet cemetery at Dalzell. Glassford boasts a fine collection of 18th century gravestones, including one with a rare “Tree of Life” symbol carving, while Dalserf has a hogback stone, likely to date to the 10th or 11th century.  We also have a World Heritage Site in our collection, as the non-denominational burial ground for New Lanark, one of our partners,  is on our doorstep (yes, my office is in a World Heritage Site).

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Where I get to come to work everyday – New Lanark World Heritage Site

Today, I am reviewing the final report and identifying initial actions from the plan to take forward to help achieve CAVLP’s overall aims and objectives.  It really has provided me with a comprehensive plan to take forward, we may not be able to do everything identified but we can definitely add to our understanding of these valuable resources.

There has been a considerable amount of work done by different community groups on recording the graveyards in the area, in particularly Stonehouse Heritage Group for their local churchyard and Lanarkshire Family History Society.  Some groups are interested in recording inscriptions; others have focused on the Covenanter graves in the area.  Looking at the report, the first action will be matching information recorded to site plans, and filling in the gaps; include creating site plans for a few of the sites.    A key element of this will be developing a full photographic record for each of the burial grounds.

Community involvement will be key in doing this and we hope to pull in individuals and groups already interested in the graveyards, as well as develop new interest in local communities.  Our village network events allow us to chat to communities and hear what is important to them, and certainly the burial grounds are of interest but often people are not sure what they can do to help.

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John Young, Stonehouse Heritage Group, providing an engaging tour of the churchyard.

A new aspect for me, as an archaeologist, is the importance of the kirkyards as “living”; places to encourage a diverse range of wildlife. There has been less information collected about this element of the sites, and so this has been a great opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues in the partnership on how we can involve volunteers and experts to undertake natural heritage surveys to begin to understand their importance as habitats for wildlife.

The report also suggests many ways we can promote this information to local communities through interpretation and events.  We have already had one event, where Stonehouse Heritage Group provided a walking tour of the Stonehouse Kirkyard and a series of short talks from a range of speakers including Peder Aspen, a geologist who spoke about the issues of stone conservation and the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis about raising funds for their conservation work.

So today, will hopefully result in me moving forward on what we can do next.  The passion and enthusiasm from our consultants has really brought these sites to life for me.  I hope through the developing projects with communities we can do the same for others, and at the same time update and enhance the historic record for the CAVLP area.

 

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Adopt-a-Monument

Hello, my name is Cara Jones and work for Archaeology Scotland, as the Adopt-a-Monument Project Officer. Adopt-a-Monument is a five year scheme which supports and facilitates local archaeology groups who wish to conserve and promote their local heritage. The scheme is community led and we work through-out Scotland – from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway. In addition to our more traditional projects, we are also funded to do outreach projects – taking archaeology to non-traditional heritage audiences.

My Day of Archaeology post is about one of our Adopt-a-Monument outreach projects – The Claypits. In 2011, Adopt-a-Monument was contacted by the Friends of Possil Park to see if we could help with their greenspace improvement initiative for an area of apparent waste land in central Glasgow. Flanked by the Forth Clyde canal, the area has a industrial past, linked to the development of Glasgow in the 18th and 19th century. On first impression, the Claypits does look like an un-inviting, littered and burnt out car dump kind of place – the type of place you avoid and definitely not a space where you would enjoy and appreciate. However, once you start to work there, get to know the local people and start researching the past and present use of the site, Claypits transforms into a valuable greenspace within urbanised landscape. I enjoy many things about this project, but one great aspect is that isn’t just about archaeology – we are working in collaboration with ecologists (it’s a great newt and frog site!), artists, a lovely local councillor, fishermen (Get Hooked on Fishing – a great youth engagement project), canoeists, mountain bikers, the local allotment association, Scottish Canals and the Waterways Trust. I’m sure I’ve missed someone out, but it is a great example of successful partnership working.

Team meeting before the event starts

But I digress! My Day of Archaeology was the ‘Bats, Beasties and Buried Treasure’ event, held at the Claypits on the 30th June 2012. Aimed at local people (and in particular local families) the open day encourages the use and enjoyment of their local greenspace. We ran several activities which included the dig box and ancient crafts, a treasure hunt and storytelling – all linked to the archaeology and local history of the area.

(The Dig box!)

Situated at ‘Base Camp’, the dig box contained replica finds (cattle bone, shell, beads, burnt pot, bone comb etc) which (after discovery) we encourage each child to think like an archaeologist – ‘what do these finds tell us about this location?’, ‘What would we find if we excavated your front room’ – introducing the concept of material culture within a context they understand. Next to the dig box we also had grinding activities (both a replica saddle quern and rotary quern) where children could grind grain into flour, which they could then take away with them. We also had a ‘make your own Neolithic pot’ areas, where children can make a small pinch pot and try and copy groove ware decorations.

Neolithic pot making!

We also organised a treasure hunt – developed by Kate (our placement from Newcastle University) who buried objects which relate to the past use of the site (some old brick from the iron foundry, an old milk bottle from quarry). While guiding them through the site, Kate encouraged children to find the object and then try and think about why the object was there and how it relates to the past use of the landscape. Our storytelling activity did the same thing – Erin (our crack storyteller) developed stories around the local history of the site and surrounding area. Her stories ranged from the time local football club Partick Thistle beat Celtic 4:1 in 1971, to a story about a young girl who disguised herself as a man to work in the quarry on the site at the time of the building of the canal. Storytelling is for us, a new way of disseminating the archaeological and historical background of the site and something we hope to develop further as Adopt-a-Monument goes on.

Erin and her storytelling hour!

Of the 100 to 130 visitors to the site on the day, 59 children took part in our activities, which, taking into account we didn’t have canoes or newts to attract children is not bad going!

Team Archaeology Scotland!


Mystery, Diversity and the Joy of Archaeology

Human beings are odd beasts. So much more than political animals, our ‘habits’ are so varied that they sometimes seem far from habitual. Capable of action on all scales, from building enormous monuments that take millions of people over many generations to a single individual caring for a companion in the face of incurable illness.

Yet, go with any person to the place they sleep and you will learn much about them, their society, economics, politics, aesthetics and so on. You can learn from the materials of that space – Do they sleep on a bed? under blankets? are they clean? Do they have Justin Beiber posters? Picasso prints? Turner originals? Is there water by the bed? is the cup glass, pottery or metal?

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Globalisation

Its 30min past Day of Archaeology here in Estonia, so not too late to post my thoughts from the day.

I was sitting in my office in Tallinn, working with the dataset from Hungary for the University of Southampton and thinking about the TED’s talk I went to see day before (over live link from Edinburgh) about the globalisation and openness. Pankaj Ghemawat told us that when looking the data, there is actually no globalisation, or at least not at the level we’d like to think about it. He encouraged us to look for our own answers based on the data.

And here I am, working with the database gathered over half a dozen years or more. Main question I struggle with is how my work (merging and preparing  datasets for analyses) might change the end results… and how the people who are going to analyse the data trust someone like me to play with it and to make it “eatable” for them?

I do not agree with Pankaj about the globalisation, but i do think we need to know the data we draw our conclusions from much better, or even if we help someone else do it.

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The Archaeology of Archaeology

 

Quite often we are engaged with something which later becomes our profession. As time goes by we are seized by the obligations and responsibilities of our profession so that forget why we choose the one which models our life. Whether we have done it because we love the activities related to the specified profession, we believe in its contribution to improving the world or simply have decided to deal with something because it brings us earnings or prestige in society? Particularly The Day of Archeology gives an opportunity once archaeologists to rethink their motives and wonder why we started to deal with archeology. Any of our responses will guide us to answer the question what archeology is about us and how it is seen in the eyes and minds of those who are not archaeologists. Therefore, regardless of our individual motives to become archaeologists and (not)objective reasons to stay still archaeologists, however most agree about our understanding of archeology and its objectives.

 

Archaeology is a science i.e. scientific discipline that officially exists for only three centuries. Although in the past millennia there was consistent tendency to comprehend the past, yet the first archaeologists with Bachelor appear very late, even in the 18th century. However, in comparison with many other social and natural sciences, the later institutionalization of archeology is just formalizing what thousands of years is one of the most existential human issues – the past. Man has always had an interest in what happened in the past and how it contributes in creation of the present. And particularly in the answers to this question, archeology is considered as the most competent, especially due to its possibility to have direct insight into what people left behind. Despite other sciences that considers distant past, the archeology has the privilege directly to penetrate into the items as they were and not like others had wrote and spoke about them. Perhaps such a privilege for a forensic understanding of the past is the motive that stimulates archaeologists to be attracted by the possibility for a voyeuristic glimpse into ancient cultures. Surely, such scientific voyeurism as much it is exciting that much it bears responsibility, mostly in the interpretation of the function and significance of objects and buildings in the past.

 

 

Interpretation is actually the essence of archeology, from which emerges the greatest responsibility of archaeologists as the official interpreters of the past. Archaeologists are not adventurists which digs the fields and hills or distributors of artifacts for embellishment of collectors and governors. Yes, there were any and there are some still, but most of us feel the responsibility to thoroughly examine and understand the past cultures and through argumented interpretation to share our knowledge. Although there are enormous temptations for personal glory and creating national policies through artifacts, yet we remain consistent to our responsibility with arguments to interpret the past and present as a cultural heritage. The hours spent under the blazing sun on sites or inside wet museum storages make us stronger in the determination of comprehensive understanding of the human past, as well as in its explanation to people today. Therefore, a day in honor of archeology reminds us of our scientific ethics and confront us with the challenges and responsibilities we have for a current and future generations. In a way, it brings us back to the initial motives why we became archaeologists. The desire to know the past and thoroughly to talk about it is the urge that stimulated us to be persistent in our choice and intention to contribute to the understanding of the millennia of humanity changes and achievements. We believe that this urge will still keeps us in our scientific endeavors and will further stimulate the sharing of our knowledge of Macedonian and World cultural heritage.

 

Macedonian Archaeological and Scientific Association

 

Human Remain Detection Dogs Help Archaeologists Find Unmarked Graves

As you probably know by now if you have been following us on twitter (@FPANNrthCentral), we have been out at Munree Cemetery in Tallahassee today. We have been working with specially trained dogs called Human Remain Detection Canines, or HRD dogs. They have been helping us to find unmarked burials that are at minimum 100 years old! The Munree Cemetery is a historic African American cemetery with over 250 known burials, most of which do not have any type of marker present. Some of the graves are visible at the surface, but some areas we were unsure about. Of course, we wanted to avoid excavating in a cemetery, so we brought in the dogs! Two of the dogs and their handlers came all the way from Louisiana to help us out today! We also had a local dog handler and her HRD dog volunteer  to help us out. The dogs were able to identify several areas that possibly contain human burials. Tomorrow morning we are going to bring out the ground penetrating radar (GPR) to see if we can find any anomalies in those areas. The cemetery is five acres, and it would take us days to GPR the whole thing, and even longer to process all that data, so the dogs have helped us narrow down the areas to those that have the greatest probability of containing burials.

Jada and Dixie, both specially trained HRD canines, traveled all the way from Louisiana with their handlers to help us today!


Doing Archaeology, Digitally

This Day of Archaeology doesn’t see me out surveying or excavating, nor in a lab.  Instead, it finds me sitting at my desk at MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University in front of my Mac Book Pro, two large Apple Cinema Displays (powered by an old, yet remarkably reliable, Mac Pro), an iPad, an iPod, an Android handset (Droid X2 if you are interested), and a Galaxy Tab 10.1.  This (extremely technological) state of affairs results from the fact that its been a long time since I’ve actually stuck a trowel in the ground.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a great field archaeology pedegree.  I spent my elementary, highschool, and undergrad years (my father is an archaeologist as well) working on sites in the Northern Plains (mostly Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta – and a little bit in Montana and North Dakota).  As a graduate student, I worked in Indiana and Illinois.  My primary area of research as a graduate student (as well as my archaeological heart), however, rested in Egypt – Predynastic Egypt to be precise.  I worked several seasons with Fred Wendorf and the Combined Prehistoric Expedition at Nabta Playa.  The bulk of my work in Egypt, however, was at Hierakonpolis, where I excavated a variety of Predynastic household sites and did research into Predynastic household economy.

As a graduate student (and even as an undergrad, to be quite honest), I found myself increasingly interested in how information, computing, and communication technology could be applied to archaeology for teaching, research, outreach, and scholarly communication.  Fast forward several years and I find myself sitting at my desk at MATRIX in front of a dizzying array of devices.  My transformation from a “traditional” archaeologist (if you will – though, to be honest, is there really such thing as a “traditional” archaeologist) to a digital archaeologist is complete.

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