Nearch

My day of Archaeology at the prehistoric lab of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki!

THe microscope working place at the AUTh prehistoric lab.

The microscope working place at the AUTh prehistoric lab.

It is the second time I am joining the “Day of Archaeology” and I am really content to feel part of this broader archaeological community.

My 29th of July was spent on two different archaeological fields, let’s say…

The first was the preparation of an action to be implemented for European Heritage Days at the end of September 2016 and has to do with the combination of digital social media and mobile phone technology to raise public awareness on antiquities which are hidden under the modern urban development. The action is aiming at re-introducing seven hidden archaeological sites of ancient Thessaloniki (my place of work, research and living) and turn them into places of memory, combining them with people’s everyday life. The action will be implemented through the use of mobile phones and tablets. Seven posters with QR codes will be designed to highlight each one of these places. The placing of posters in various spots of the city will be widely publicized through social media. The audience, using their mobile phones, will be able to connect with a data base and find information, texts and photos of these unknown and forgotten parts of the ancient city. An initial elaboration of this approach has been prepared in my MA thesis on Museology in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, completed this January with Kostas Kotsakis and Kostas Kasvikis as my tutors. The full action is under the umbrella of NEARCH project www.nearch.eu.

On the Day of Archaeology I worked in particular to review the material (mostly photos) to be used at the data base and also went through the evaluation sheet (prepared together with Kostas Kasvikis) for the action. I had also a skype meeting with the graphic designer and architect Kleopatra Alagialoglou, responsible for the lay out of the project, to decide a few technical details and to produce a timeschedule for our workflow.

After finishing with the reviewing and the managing of the action to come, it was time to do some work for my personal “archaeological demon”, my research for my PhD thesis. My thesis is about the bronze jewlery from an Early Iron Age Cemetery at Stavroupoli near Thessaloniki. After having indexed and reviewed the material and selected the samples for analyses I now have in hand the polished sections of my samples. I have to work on the metallographic microscope to define their structure and other technological features. Today I am taking pictures of the samples as can be seen in the photo uploaded.

A draft poster for the action we are planning!

A draft poster for the action we are planning!

Sometimes It is hard to devide your time and energy in different research fields but at the same time it can be really rewarding. My engagement with the public regarding archaeological heritage has provided a different way to think about my basic research and to re-evaluate my scientific and professional ethics. And that is something I wanted also to share with you for my Day of Archaeology!

The Talking Stones! The Day of Archaeology in the Prehistoric Lab of AUTh

A few years ago, at this time of the year, I used to participate on excavations or salvage with the Ephorate of Antiquities around Greece, or systematic field work with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. For some time, after I started my PhD at AUTh, and after participating in European projects (first Archaeology in Contemporary Europe, now NEARCH (http://www.nearch.eu/), I have left –temporarily I hope-the field. On hot July days I do some research regarding archaeology and public outreach: how archaeology is perceived by people and how it influences their lives, if at all.

Having as a starting point the idea of Kostas Kotsakis to repeat 23 years after the same survey (which was conducted back in 1992) at the Toumba neighborhood of Thessaloniki very close to the AUTh University excavation,we prepared (himself, Kostas Kasvikis, and I) a questionnaire based upon the old one. The starting point for this survey was the relationship between archaeology and the public and more precisely the social role of archaeology and its connection to social reality.

The particular objective of the survey was to determine and understand the ways the community and common people of the neighborhood have towards general ideas such as cultural heritage, history and archaeology. Another goal was to understand how people’s ideas about public archaeology and public history change through time. The survey took place in May 2015 and it was done with the method of personal interviewing using a questionnaire which consists of different type of questions (multiple choice, yes or no choice, free answer etc) targeting at quantitative and qualitative features. We have compiled 107 questionnaires and we are processing them.

On 24 July Kostas Kasvikis (he also takes part in the NEARCH network) came to the lab, and we had a meeting overviewing the questionnaires and discussing the results of the survey. We have started to prepare our common paper for the EAA conference at Glasgow. We have drawn the key points of the paper and decided the major issues to be highlighted.

After that I was left alone with a few things to do on my PhD. My thesis is on the bronze jewelry from an Iron Age cemetery in Stavroupoli, a site northwest of Thessaloniki. At this point I have had official permits to cut samples from the bronze artifacts in order to prepare metallographic specimen for optical and electron microscopy. With these analytical methods I will probably identify alloys and recognize chemical and material properties as well as different technological features. I am now taking photographs of the samples cut from the artifact on the microscope before sending them to the lab to prepare metallographic sections.

In between I have done all the side work research in a lab always brings…from administrative issues, phonecalls, emails to coffee making!!!

Postholes, people and perceptions

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At the moment of writing I’m in the second year of my four year PhD trajectory at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University. My PhD research is part of the European NEARCH project which aims to explore the various dimensions of public participation in contemporary archaeology and bring to the field, which is strongly influenced by economic and social developments in society, new ways of working and collaborating. More specifically, I’m looking at the social and economic impact of public activities in archaeology in order to better understand what the effects are of those activities on people’s lives. Understanding, revealing and predicting the actual impact of public archaeological activities is getting more important each day, since those two factors are gaining importance in local and international policy making, which is in turn based on pressure on governments to deal with rapid social and economic change.

Two weeks ago I was on a lovely and sunny field trip in the South-western part of Germany, in Landau, near Karlsruhe with my friend and colleague from Leiden University, Arnout van Rhijn. There, a huge flower park is created in order to celebrate the ‘Landesgartenschau‘. The show opened spring this year and will close coming fall, giving people all over Germany (although most visitors came from nearby, actually) a chance to visit this beautiful place and enjoy the views and smell.

Interesting for me was that within this flower park a Linearbandkeramik longhouse was recreated by a nearby archaeology and history museum called Museum Herxheim,  based on the results of local archaeological digs, but also based on international literature (there was actually a blog about this on last year’s Day of Archaeology, if you remember). The longhouse was not fully reconstructed (the roof was not closed, for instance) and also done by means of modern tools instead of authentic ones, but this was no problem since the reason to create this reconstruction was to give people an impression on how large and tall those early farms were and to arouse their curiosity. Alongside the longhouse, several authentic plants are presented as well (including, for instance, einkorn wheat and poppy) next to the reconstruction of a Neolithic wooden well an Iron Age smelting oven/furnace and a giant adze created by local art students.

DSC_0865

We were invited by Museum Herxheim, and were able to perform a variety of studies there in order to gain insight into two things: peoples behavior on such a public site, and the impact of this activity on people’s perceptions: a perfect case study for my PhD research. In that one week of fieldwork, we were able to perform two different types of research:

1) We performed a visitor-tracking study, to see how people move around the plot, at what point they would halt and start to read explanations or start to have conversations with each other. We also tried to keep kind of the seconds people would halt. However, the longhouse turned out to be a great visitor attraction, and at sometimes there were more than 40 people (including lots of school classes) in and around the house so it was impossible for us to keep track (and time) of everybody.

2) Furthermore, we asked people to fill out a questionnaire in order for us to gain an insight into the social impact of such a public archaeological activity. We asked questions if the visit made them happy, for instance, or whether or not they would visit Museum Herxheim afterwards. In the end, more than 100 people took their time to fill-out the questionnaire and we tracked more than 200 peoples movements around the longhouse plot.

At the moment of writing, on the actual Day of Archaeology, I’m busy working out the results of those two studies in both Excel and through an online tool called SurveyMonkey. The idea is to write an article about our findings, not only on the actual results, but also on a ‘best practices’ guide in doing these kinds of research, which is, quite frankly, something not every archaeologist (nor heritage manager for that matter) has a feeling for or has experience in. This week provided me with lots of useful data, but, perhaps more importantly, a wonderful experience.

I hope you had fun reading this small entry and wish you a pleasant Day of Archaeology! Oh and if you are in the vicinity of Landau before the 18th of October, please have a visit!

Krijn Boom, Leiden University / NEARCH

Following the Day of Archaeology

Luckily for me, the majority of my Day of Archaeology will be spent following the Day of Archaeology online. And that’s what I’m actually supposed to be doing!

So why am I able to spend a day at work following the wonderful Day of Archaeology?

As the Communications and Access Manger for the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) one of my tasks is following the participation of partner institutions from the New Scenarios for a Community-involved Archaeology (NEARCH) project.

NEARCH follows on from the ACE project, which aimed to promote contemporary archaeology at a European level, by emphasising its cultural, scientific, and economic dimensions, including its manifold interest for the wider public. Coordinated by the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap), the NEARCH project, supported by the European Commission Culture programme, is a European-wide network of 14 partners from 10 countries willing to explore these changes and their consequences. More specifically, NEARCH aims to study the different dimensions of public participation in archaeology today, and to propose new ways of working and cooperating in a profession strongly concerned by the current economic crisis. As a low-cost, highly accessible way to explore the real daily working lives of archaeologists, the NEARCH project is very pleased to be part of Day of Archaeology, both as sponsors and participants.

The main themes of the NEARCH project are:

A. Archaeology for the community: informing and involving peopleNEARCH_BLUE_RVB
B. Archaeology and the imaginary: crossroads between science and art
C. Archaeology and knowledge: teaching and sharing information
D. Archaeology in a changing economy: towards sustainability
E. European archaeology and the world: dependencies and mutual development

The Day of Archaeology fits wonderfully under theme A , which is about informing people about archaeology and involving people in archaeology. What better way to inform people about the rich diversity within the archaeology profession than the Day of Archaeology, which highlights all the exciting, and in some cases not so exciting but very real, archaeology going on around the world on just a single day.

As a result, from the very beginning of the project, NEARCH was interested in collaborating with the fantastic Day of Archaeology Team. The ADS is coordinating this collaboration which will use NEARCHs collective networks to ensure greater participation from archaeologists across Europe. Starting next year, NEARCH partners will also provide translations for the ‘How to take part’ sections of the website and volunteer as moderators, so that more people can post in their native language if they so choose. In the following years we hope to also explore creative ways for people across Europe to use the site and provide support to the Day of Archaeology Team for technical development.

The collaboration with NEARCH and the Day of Archaeology doesn’t officially start until the Day of Archaeology 2016, which is why those translations are not yet available. But plenty of NEARCH partners are planning to take part this year and I get to follow and record all their posts and tweets.

Here are a few that have already been posted:
DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY – A VIEW FROM THE GERMAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE
Michael Krumme writes about his day working at DAI the German Archaeological Institute.

CONTRACT MUSEUM ARCHAEOLOGY IN SWEDEN
Delia Ní Chíobháin Enqvist tell us about her work in the Contract Archaeology department at Bohusläns museum,Uddevalla.

“ARCHEOLOGIA SECONDO ME”
Remo Bitelli from Istituto Beni Culturali della Regione Emilia-Romagna advertises the NEARCH ‘You(r) Archaeology Competition. This is an art competition asking people in Europe to submit drawings, videos, paintings and photographs depicting what they feel archaeology. To find out more about the competition check out the NEARCH competition page.

SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW: CAD MIGRATION AND ARCHIVE ACCESSIONING AT ADS
This is a post from Georgie Feild, ADS’s newest digital archivist, writing about her day archiving ADS-easy datasets and migrating CAD files.

BIAB – DISTRACTION AND ABSTRACTION
This is another post from ADS, this time its Jo Gilham talking about the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography‘s (BIAB) move to ADS from CBA.

I look forward to investigating how the NEARCH collaboration with Day of Archaeology evolves over the next few years, as NEARCH partners go all out to encourage participation in their home countries.

While I go back to this, my colleague Lei Xia is also busily working on the NEARCH project, creating a mobile app to help inform people about the archaeology around them, so keep an eye out for this in the future.

 

DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY – A VIEW FROM THE GERMAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

You/r Archaeology” – portraying the past

You/r Archaeology” – portraying the past

I‛m archaeologist – but no shovel today… The day starts with a sit-in-front-of-the-computer at the office in Berlin writing and sending emails. Together with my colleague Isabelle Frase we have to answer on questions for an competition we launched in Germany this week. It‛s called “You(r) Archaeology” – portraying the past”, in German “(D)eine Archäologie – Deine Bilder der Vergangenheit”, asking for the ideas and views of the public on archaeology. Everyone from all over Europe should answer that by making drawings, photos, paintings, or videos. The competition was created by our Italian colleagues of the IBC – the Istituto per i beni artistici, culturali e naturali. We are among the partners of the large EU project NEARCH – New scenarios for a community-involved archaeology.

We are based at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Cooperations like the NEARCH project is an important part of the Institute’s work. We collaborate with numerous partners worldwide in scientific research aimed at understanding fundamental issues of human history and ancient cultures as the foundation of the civilisations of the modern world. The Institute is conducting research in the archaeological sciences and classical studies in many partner countries.

As a remaining duty for today I have to read proofs for an article I wrote. An important part of archaeology is publishing the results of our research, whether fieldwork or archival studies. The article is on Carl Weickert, an German archaeologist, who worked as director of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin from the 1930s onwards. History of scholarship is not yet very common in archaeology, but as in the sciences it is important to understand competing paradigms or conceptual systems in a wider context. Weickert ended his career in the 1950s, thus spanning the difficult period before and after 1945. He worked also at the excavations of Miletos – an old photograph shows him on site in the 1950s on the left side at the table. The excavations in Miletos are a old and still ongoing research, project first of the Berliner Museen and later of the German Archaeological Institute. And I‛m going there for fieldwork later in September!

Miletos in the 1950s – Carl Weickert

Miletos in the 1950s – Carl Weickert

Miletos

Miletos


NEARCH and ADS looking forward to Day of Archaeology 2015!

ADS LogoOk wait, isn’t this Day of Archaeology 2014? It’s time to think about 2015 already?!

Yes!…and 2016, 2017 and 2018, as the New Scenarios for a Community-involved Archaeology (NEARCH) project prepares to work with the Day of Archaeology from next year. NEARCH follows on from the ACE project, which aimed to promote contemporary archaeology at a European level, by emphasising its cultural, scientific, and economic dimensions, including its manifold interest for the wider public. Conducted by the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap), the NEARCH project, supported by the European Commission Culture programme, is a European-wide cooperation network of 14 partners from 10 countries willing to explore these changes and their consequences. More specifically, NEARCH aims to study the different dimensions of public participation in archaeology today, and to propose new ways of working and cooperating in a profession strongly concerned by the current economic crisis.

The main themes of the NEARCH project are:

A. Archaeology for the community: informing and involving people
B. Archaeology and the imaginary: crossroads between science and art
C. Archaeology and knowledge: teaching and sharing information
D. Archaeology in a changing economy: towards sustainability
E. European archaeology and the world: dependencies and mutual development

The NEARCH project is delighted to be joining forces with the Day of Archaeology, and while this work technically falls under theme A, it has relevance across every theme. ADS is coordinating the collaboration, and we are currently discussing how best to work together. Broadly though, the first year will likely entail working across our collective networks to ensure greater participation from archaeologists across Europe, and providing translations for the ‘How to take part’ sections of the website, so that more people can post in their native language if they so choose. In the following years we hope to also explore creative ways for people across Europe to use the site.

Looking forward to next year!

EU Culture Logo

 

 

The NEARCH project has been funded with the support of the European Commission.

Photo above titled: From fragments to pixels: digital representation of a tomb painting of the 4th century BC, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece by Pierre Buch © Buch Edition. From the ACE Portal for Publications and Outputs.