Diversity in Archaeological Work: One Archaeologist’s Journey

The mission of the Day of Archaeology project has been to show the diversity of work done by archaeologists around the world as a group, and what a success it has been!

In this post, I want to demonstrate that a single archaeologist can have diversity in work throughout their career too, and to emphasise that there is (paid) work to be found in this field. I started my career with a focus on the archaeology of the Byzantine and Islamic periods in the country of Jordan. While I am still on this chosen path of mine and continue to be active in both excavation and research, I spent the actual Day of Archaeology this year writing a conservation management plan for a cemetery founded at the end of the 19th century in Australia!

I write this post especially for those younger people who might be interested in pursuing their interest in archaeology as a career but who may be discouraged (either by themselves or through the warnings of elders and peers) by the myth that there is no work in archaeology. The skills one develops as an archaeologist are transferrable. I don’t necessarily mean to jobs in the mainstream, though that is also true (but you just might have to try extra hard to convince employers of that!) – I mean in the field itself, and in related fields. With hard work and effort, supported by flexibility, a dedication to networking, a little bit of entrepreneurship, and of course (as with anything else), luck, an archaeologist can find work across a range of interesting projects and disciplines while getting paid.


Commercial to Community Archaeology – A Day of Great Change

Hi, I’m Nina, an archaeologist working for Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service.

Until this Monday I spent most days out in a field, or on a building site digging things. On Tuesday it felt like a revolution occurred – I began my new job and was launched into the wonderfully eclectic world that is community archaeology. I would have liked to gain more digging experience before leaving the field, but due to various health issues (mostly exacerbated rather than caused by my job) being a commercial digger is not for me. I’m thrilled to be moving into community archaeology though, as that has always been my goal. There is something very special about being able to share the past with others – it is a great privilege.

So, I find myself sat here on Thursday morning in a warm and dry office with a desk of my own (a novelty after 18 months of scrounging for desk space during lulls in fieldwork!), with the immensely exciting task of sharing our archaeological and historical knowledge.

My day began at the civilised time of 9am (fieldwork usually runs 8am – 4pm). In my inbox was an email about a test pit dig of a WWII site that we are trying to arrange for the Worcestershire Young Archaeologists’ Club. As World War II is not my area of expertise, much googling followed.

Researching was cut short by a social media training session that ran until lunchtime. I need not tell you how important social media is for outreach work, as that would be preaching to the converted. Along with several other colleagues, I learnt more about creating a coherent plan for using our various social media channels and assessing the impact of what we do. All useful stuff and some interesting new ideas too.

After lunch I spent some time with our knowledgeable archive team, as my outreach role covers both archaeology and archives. My limited understanding of how archives work has now expanded – I even semi-understand the referencing system! I also got my first look in our archive strongrooms, which are kept carefully temperature and humidity controlled to aid preservation. Excitingly, I got to see Shakespeare’s marriage bond, which is just one of many historic documents held in Worcester!

WAAS archive strongroom with Shakespeare’s marriage bond in the right hand case (image taken by author)

A helpful handover and ideas chat with another outreach colleague, about school resource packs and upcoming events, led to a last minute flurry of emails before the end of the day. My diary is starting to fill up with site recces, events, project meetings and a first aid course. I think I am starting to feel more like a community archaeologist and less like a misplaced digger.

If you’d like to explore the archaeology of Worcester or know more about where I work (a.k.a. a shameless plug), you can find us here:

Explore the Past blog

WAAS Facebook page


Finds and More: Being on the Post-Ex Team

I’m currently in Greece on an excavation. I can’t tell you exactly where – we have to keep the location secret to protect the site and to abide by the reporting restrictions imposed by the Greek authorities – but I can tell you it’s currently going very well. I am the finds specialist, which means I work in the local museum processing and registering all the finds from the excavation.

This involves washing ceramic sherds, entering details and measurements of every object into a database, taking photographs of every find, drawing all the diagnostic pottery (rims, handles, bases and decorated pieces), and making sure all the finds are safely stored away for study by specialists next year. Luckily I have other members of the dig team to assist me!

We have some free time in the afternoons, which I also fill with archaeology. I’m a member of the Well Built Mycenae team and my job is to publish an important part of the Cult Centre at Mycenae. This area was excavated in the 1960s but the site turned out to be so complicated that publication took much longer than expected. However, I’m now at the stage that involves editing images for which I need to use my more powerful desktop computer. Obviously I wasn’t able to take that with me into the field(!) so I can’t do any work on that project at the moment. Instead I’ve been using the afternoons to produce an article based on my PhD research, which investigated how metal vessels fitted into the social and political system of Late Bronze Age Greece. It may seem strange at first to think of the use of metal pots as an important way of expressing social status and significance. Yet even today, expensive metal vases are often awarded as a prize; just think of the trophy handed out to the winners of the English FA Cup! Publishing articles is a vital part of archaeology as it allows research to be shared amongst the archaeological community and makes it available to future generations. It’s also one of the best ways to gain recognition in your field, which is essential when you are a post-doctoral researcher like me. The archaeological job market out there is highly competitive at the moment, so I’m hoping that the work I do now will eventually be enough for me to land a long-term university position.


Rare Books from the National Museum Wales Library

This post has been published on behalf of Kristine Chapman, Principal Librarian at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. 

Although I am not an archaeologist, I often work closely with staff in the Archaeology Department here at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, as I am the Museum Librarian.

The Main Library at Amgueddfa Cymru

The Museum Library was created right after the founding of the Museum in 1907. There was a Librarian in place before there was a Museum building, that’s how important it was to the first curators!

Much of my work consists of making sure staff have access to the resources they need. Most of the books that make up the Archaeology Library reside in the Archaeology Department, which means they are closer to people who need them. The walls of the curator’s offices are lined with books, and they consult them on a daily basis.

Amgueddfa Cymru’s collections of British Archaeological Reports (BARs)

However, we also have a number of rare books that are kept in the Main Library, a room originally built in the 1920s. Whenever we have Open Days, we get out a few examples to show visitors. A recent favourite was Nenia Britannica: or, a sepulchral history of Great Britain; from the earliest period to its general conversion to Christianity (1793) by Rev. James Douglas (1753-1819). Its popularity is due to the stunning aquatint illustrations that depict discoveries at barrow excavations.

Title page from Nenia Britannica (left) and Plate from Nenia Britannica showing a human skeleton in a grave (right)

When it was first published, Nenia Britannica was not that well received, it was considered too scientific. Later it was recognised as significant, because of the way Douglas systematically illustrated and recorded the artefacts.

Another favourite is Itinerarium Curiousum, or, an account of the antiquitys and remarkable curiositys in nature or art: observ’d in travels thro’ Great Brittan (1724), by William Stukeley (1687 – 1765). Stukeley recorded and collected objects, during journeys around England. Those observations formed the basis of this book.

Title page and frontispiece from Itinerarium Curiousum

Although not as well-known as his later publication on Stonehenge, it is important to us because it was donated by George Boon, who was a member of our Archaeology Department from 1957-87, first as Assistant Keeper, and then as Keeper.

Recently we have been taking a closer look at Mona Antiqua Restaurata: an archaeological discourse on the antiquities, natural and historical, of the Isle of Anglesey, the antient seat of the British Druids (1723) by Henry Rowlands (1655–1723) because the Eisteddfod will be in Anglesey this summer.

Title page from Mona Antiqua Restaurata

The author lived on Anglesey, and spent much of his time investigating nearby stone circles, and Prehistoric remains. His investigations led him to conclude that Anglesey (Mona) was the ancient centre of Druidic worship, and did much to popularise interest in Druid culture.

Image of a Druid from Mona Antiqua Restaurata

Over time some of his conclusions were shown to be inaccurate, but his descriptions and drawings of the sites of ancient monuments still hold merit, and we are looking forward to showcasing his image of a Druid at the Eisteddfod.

You can learn more about the work we do in the Library on the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales blog, or you can follow us (@Amgueddfa_Lib) on Twitter.

The Young Archaeologists’ Club: Archaeologists of the Future

This Day of Archaeology found me multi-tasking as many archaeologists do. The bulk of my day was spent with the Mersey and Dee Young Archaeologists’ Club, on my day off from the History of Place project with some PhD reading and Society For Post-Medieval Archaeology Treasurer tasks in the evening-the life of an archaeologist is varied, exciting and never stops!

The image shows a sign that reads 'Galkoff's and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place: Stories from a fascinating Liverpool community'

Galkoff’s and the Secret Life of Pembroke Place: Stories from a fascinating Liverpool community

I joined the Mersey and Dee Young Archaeologists Club at their ‘summer school’ for a day working on the joint Museum of Liverpool/Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine project ‘Galkoffs and the secret life of Pembroke Place’ in a session run by Placed

The Museum of Liverpool and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine are working together to preserve, record and display the heritage of two important buildings on Pembroke Place, Liverpool-the decorative tiles of P Galkoff butcher shop which opened in 1908 (although the tiles were added later in 1933) and one of the three last remaining examples of courtyard housing in Liverpool. Courtyard housing in Liverpool is of particular interest to me as it forms one of my PhD case studies. The team involved in delivering the project have planned a full schedule of engagement activities to enable the public to participate.

A handwritten list of reasons why we should save old buildings;They can show us how people used to live,

The YAC’s debated why we should save historic buildings or why we should demolish

Placed (Place-Education) deliver hands-on, creative activities to excite, empower and engage the public, in particular young people, about the built environment. The workshop they delivered involved a number of activities designed to inspire the young people to consider potential new uses for the buildings on Pembroke Place. We started the day debating the reasons why we might want to reuse a historic building or why we might want to demolish. We then looked at maps of the local area to consider who might be future users of the buildings and other environmental factors such as access, roads and the physical space available.

A young boy stands looking at a model of two rooms

A member with one of the models showing potential reuse

We investigated Pembroke Place by looking at historic maps and photographs, who lived and worked in the buildings previously and what is significant about the heritage of the buildings. We worked in teams to repurpose the buildings using design images for inspiration and then we built models showcasing our designs. The teams created models of a ‘tropical’ frozen yoghurt shop (linking with the school by providing healthy ‘tropical’ snacks), a community library/coffee shop that sold hot chocolate and a public indoor ‘zoo’ to showcase some of the worlds most poisonous creatures.

a number of young people stand gathered around a table on which a model of a building stands

The YAC teams all presented their visions of reuse

We had so much fun using the historic buildings as a template for our creative ideas for the future. None of the young people wanted to demolish the buildings-all wanted to creatively redesign them to be reused.

Working with young people to help them to participate in archaeology is important to me. Currently I’m working for Accentuate on the History of Place project. A major part of the History of Place project is to engage young people, particularly young people who identify as Deaf or disabled, in their heritage. The project is researching 8 sites of disability in England, spanning 800 years.

A young boy is helped by a teacher to hold a windmill toy

A student at the Royal School for the Blind explores a hand held windmill as part of our ‘tunnels and seaside visits’ sensory story

In Liverpool, where I’m based, we are researching the Royal School for the Blind-the first of its kind in Britain (after Paris) and the oldest in continuous existence. Established in 1791 by a group of men, three of which were themselves blind, the school aimed to provide safe residence and training in the mechanical arts to blind men, women and children. Through our research we have uncovered some previously unseen objects and stories and are working to create a fully accessible exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool in January 2018. We have also been working with young people to create a sensory story, a mobile phone game and film about the history of the school.

A group of students are sat in a circle telling stories. One student holds a suitcase full of objects to help inspire a story.

Students from St Vincent’s School in Liverpool at a games workshop

I mentioned earlier some additional activities I did on Day of Archaeology. I’m involved with the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology as Treasurer and I did some general tasks such as checking our bank balance, updating records and checking e-mails. To complete my Day of Archaeology I did some reading towards my PhD. I’m in my final year (in real time although i’m a part time student) at the University of Liverpool investigating how a combined approach of archaeology and oral history can enhance our understanding of working class housing from 1790-1970. I find researching incredibly rewarding and as much as I’m excited to submit my thesis i’m also sad that my PhD experience is almost over. I am incredibly lucky to be working with so many brilliant people and on so many different themes. The final picture shows me at Pembroke Place with YAC in the background surveying where one of the two rows of courtyard housing stood.

are members of the Young Archaeologists Club carrying out geophysical surveying at Pembroke Place.

Here I am at Pembroke Place

“It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, cz. 2 – uzupełnienie do artykułu: ZDJĘCIA

Poniżej zamieszczone zostało uzupełnienie do tekstu popularno-naukowego “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary w postaci materiału ilustracyjnego, a przygotowanego w związku z międzynarodowym Dniem Archeologii. Z pracą można zapoznać się tu:










The Avertok Archaeology Project

The 2017 Avertok Archaeology Crew! Top from left to right: Laura, Emma G., John, Jacinda, Robyn, Maryssa, Bottom from left to right: Ida, Emma L.S., Kayley, Deirdre.

Checking in from Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, this is Ida Semigak, an archaeology summer student with the Avertok Archaeology Project. The Avertok Archaeology Project is part of the larger Tradition & Transition: PiusituKaujuit Asianguvalliajuillu project, which is a partnership between Memorial University in Newfoundland and the Nunatsiavut Government. Avertok is the name of the original Inuit settlement where Hopedale is located. It means “a place of whales.” The project started when the Hopedale community asked Dr. Lisa Rankin from Memorial University to conduct archaeological research in the area. John Piercy and I have been hired as summer students to work on various aspects of the research.

We begin every day at the Moravian Mission, where we have set up our archaeology lab in the Mission House. The Hopedale Mission was established in 1782, and the building is the earliest surviving Moravian structure on the Labrador coast. The building was completed between 1850-1861. We organize, clean, and catalog artifacts with archaeologists Dr. Laura Kelvin and Emma Gilheany. The building is very cold, but John particularly enjoys cleaning the nails and metals recovered from site. I enjoy cleaning and examining the ceramics. Some times we have visitors in the lab like cruise participants and the kids from the Hopedale literacy camp. We give them tours of the lab and tell them about what we do in the lab.

Doing an “archaeological survey” with the kids from the literacy camp. They found a lot of “artifacts” (toys and candy).


Dr. Kelvin showing visitors from a cruise ship artifacts in the lab. Photo Credit: Rosie Edmunds.


A soap stone artifact found this season at the Old Hopedale site. Photo Credit: Laura Kelvin.

This summer we have been looking at archival photos from the past that show what Hopedale used to look like. We have been taking photos and videos of these same spots around town to see what has changed.


Then and Now: The Moravian Mission 1886 (top) and 2017 (bottom) . Photo Credit: The Rooms Archives A7. 103, Laura Kelvin.

Then and Now: Hopedale 1930 (top) and 2017 (bottom). Photo Credit: The Rooms Archive VA 110-67.2, Ida Semigak.

We sometimes spend our days digging in town at the Old Hopedale site or at the nearby site of Karmakulluk being excavated by Jacinda. Emma Lewis-Sing, Robyn Fleming, and Deirdre Elliot trained us in excavation techniques. I really like digging for artifacts! For example, yesterday I found a piece of wood with a hole where a nail would have been decades ago.


Ida working at Karmakulluk. Photo Credit: Laura Kelvin.

John digging at Karmakulluk. Photo Credit: Ida Semigak.


Karmakulluk. Photo Credit: Ida Semigak.

Dr. Kelvin, John, and I are also interviewing community members to find out more about artifacts and traditional culture. Two of the interviews we have conducted dealt with traditional Inuit kayak-making. We are currently putting together a video, which will be posted to our YouTube page, showing the interviews. The video will also feature the cardboard kayak we made for the Rhubarb Festival’s cardboard boat race. Our kayak came in second place! In addition to interviewing community members, we have also been interviewing other members of the archaeology team.

In the last three weeks, I have enjoyed working with the archaeologists, going to the Karmakulluk site, and finding artifacts. Interviewing community members about kayak-making made John interested in helping make a kayak in the near future.

Ross Flowers showing Laura and John the sealskin kayak he made. Photo Credit: Ida Semigak.


John making a video about Hopedale. Photo Credit: Laura Kelvin.


John and Elder Andrea Flowers during an interview. Photo Credit: Rosie Edmunds.


Making a cardboard kayak for the Rhubarb festival’s cardboard boat race. Photo Credit: Rosie Edmunds.


Our cardboard kayak. We came in second in the race! Photo Credit: Laura Kelvin.

The Long View of Archaeological Data: Making it All Work Together

One of the most important concepts to understand about archaeology is the value of information over artifacts. We learn about the past by studying not only objects, but their position in space relative to each other and the landscape, as well as their quantities and distribution on one site or across many.

All of this data is what makes up archaeological records. Archaeological records can be field notebooks with quick observations, detailed maps and measurements made on paper, photographs, sound recordings, digital data collected from surveying equipment and GPS units, databases with detailed descriptions of individual artifacts, the raw data and results of specialized laboratory analysis, the list goes on and on. It’s a lot of material, and without it, boxes of artifacts do us very little good toward understanding the human past.

Many of these archaeological excavations have been written up into publications and organized reports, summarizing this information and interpreting the sites’ uses and significance. But even great reports are written within constraints and to achieve specific objectives. As years pass between excavation and interpretation, being able to revisit the original data and records is key.

A view of the study collection room, with documents arrayed on a table and a laptop open for cataloging.

Creating an inventory of archaeological records collections at the Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources



Powyższy tytuł stanowi nie bezpodstawne jego zapożyczenie od irlandzkiej pieśni powstałej w 1912 roku. Choć co prawda powstała ona przed wybuchem I wojny światowej to z czasem upowszechniła się ona wśród żołnierzy, lecz przede wszystkim sam zwrot „it’s a long way to Tipperary” zaczął także oznaczać nie tylko długą drogę do domu, do ukochanej, ale przede wszystkim do pozytywnego efektu wyznaczonego celu. Archeologia wymaga bowiem sukcesywnej i mozolnej długiej pracy u podstaw, a która doprowadza w efekcie końcowym do sukcesu przekładającego się także na osobistą satysfakcję – stąd i tytuł.

Realizowany przez ze mnie aktualnie projekt dotyczy obrządku pogrzebowego społeczności kultury unietyckiej (dalej: KU) z obszaru Śląska, Wielkopolski oraz Ziemi Lubuskiej. Pod względem chronologicznym tematyka ta związana jest z wczesnym okresem epoki brązu (dalej: WEB), tj. z latami ok. 2300-1600 p.n.e.

W pierwszym etapie prowadzonych prac prowadziłem kwerendy w archiwach, bibliotekach jak też muzeach pozyskując w ich efekcie zbiór liczący 167 stanowisk sepulkralnych, a także 106 osad związanych bezpośrednio z KU lub datowanych na WEB, a ponadto 216 punktów osadniczych, 25 znalezisk luźnych a także 20 depozytów. Co warte uwagi wśród ww. liczby cmentarzysk wystąpiło łącznie 132 kurhany datowane na WEB oraz 18 kurhanów KU, a ponadto także 457 grobów płaskich, z czego 27  to pochówki zbiorowe i 51 to domniemane groby. Wspomniane powyżej rodzaje stanowisk tworzą regionalne  skupiska (patrz: ryc. 1) zróżnicowane pod względem wielkości i odległości pomiędzy poszczególnymi ich rodzajami, a występujące w rejonie Kietrza i Kędzierzyna Koźla, Dolnego Śląska, w okolicach Nowej Soli-Głogowa-Żmigrodu, Wielkopolski a także na obszarze wschodnio-odrzańskim.

W swej pracy choć skupiam się w głównej mierze na stanowiskach sepulkralnych, to także wykorzystuję stanowiska innego rodzaju (np. osady, punkty osadnicze itp.) dla określenia charakteru osadnictwa w danym rejonie i współzależności między tymi stanowiskami a cmentarzyskami. Sama statystyka choć nie jest „romantyczną” dziedziną wiedzy to już na pewną należy do jednej z bardziej wymagających i jest jednym z podstawowych etapów badań, które następują po kwerendach i umożliwiając tym samym przystąpienie do dalszych konkretnych analiz. Dzięki tworzonym analizom statystycznym a także mapom rozkładu sieci stanowisk sepulkralnych i innego rodzaju stanowisk na badanym przez ze mnie obszarze ( przy zastosowaniu programu  GoogleEarth) zaistniała szansa na pełniejsze zrozumienie rozkładu ww. problemu współzależności lokacji stanowisk z WEB.

Naturalnie choć główne analizy nastąpią w kolejnej fazie projektu, to jednak sama statystyka nie pozostaje jedynym zagadnieniem jakim się zajmuję. Jednym z ciekawszych problemów, którymi się zająłem jest kwestia kremacji dla WEB, a w tym właśnie interesującego mnie tu ugrupowania. Przygotowując w tym zakresie artykuł udało mi się pozyskać materiał obejmujący łącznie 53 stanowiska z terenu Europy Środkowej, tj. z dorzecza Odry i Warty (12 stanowisk), Niemiec wschodnich i południowo-wschodnich (8 stanowisk), Austrii (12 stanowisk), Czech (8 stanowisk), Słowacji (8 stanowisk), Węgier (4 stanowiska) a także zachodniej Serbii (1 stanowisko). Co ciekawe choć większość z nich reprezentuje tzw. groby płaskie to wystąpiło kilka przypadków kremacji w grobach pod-kurhanowych  (np. Gola Górowska, gr. I oraz III w Polsce, Gross Gastrosse w Niemczech, Tešinov w Czechach). Co więcej wspólnym elementem funkcjonującym w obrządku grzebalnym społeczności WEB jest występowanie pochówków wziemnych ze skremowanymi szczątkami umieszczanymi bezpośrednio w jamach bądź popielnicach. Ponadto jedynie dla dwu regionów (tj. Śląska oraz obszaru Węgier i Serbii) występują pochówki ciałopalne datowane na początki WEB, podczas gdy w pozostałych przypadkach są już wiązane z BrA2 bądź z całym przedziałem BrA, a w mniejszej liczbie także z przełomem BrA2/BrB1.


Ciekawszą kwestią jaką się zajmuję w badaniach nad obrządkiem grzebalnym kultury unietyckiej są stosowane konstrukcje grobów. Jednym z najlepszych przykładów jest tu kurhan w Szczepankowicach, dla którego został napisany osobny artykuł. Kwestia analizy konstrukcji kurhanu wymagała konsultacji specjalistycznych, a które zostały wykonane we współpracy z dr Wiesławem Słowikiem z Katedry Architektury Politechniki Warszawskiej. Problem z wspomnianym kurhanem był wielowątkowy. Po pierwsze badania wykopaliskowe kurhanu były prowadzone w latach sześćdziesiątych, a zrekonstruowany wówczas obiekt został współcześnie całkowicie zniszczony. W efekcie pozostały jedynie dane źródłowe i archiwalne dotyczące obiektu. Jednak jak można z pewnością ustalić kurhan powstał w  zasadniczo w dwu fazach swego funkcjonowania, tzn. najpierw zbudowano obiekt składający się z drewnianej komory, nasypu kamiennego i płaszcza ziemnego a w kolejnej fazie w starszy płaszcz wkopano dwa pochówki i usypano większy płaszcz ziemny. Głównym problemem pozostawała konstrukcja komory głównej. W niemal wszystkich interpretacjach badacze powtarzali za Wanda Sarnowską, badająca kurhan, iż konstrukcja komory grobowej tworzona była przez trzy słupy boczne (patrz: ryc. 2)  i ewentualnie jeden centralny oraz ściany boczne utworzone poprzez cienkie gałęzie. Niestety to rozwiązanie uznałem za mało prawdopodobne, co zostało potwierdzone przez dr Wiesława Słowika i dalej prowadzone analizy (więcej w moim artykule pt. Analiza konstrukcyjna kurhanu w Szczepankowicach). Dla prowadzonych analiz zbudowanych zostało pięć modeli komór grobowych kurhanu uwzględniających wersję Wandy Sarnowskiej, tj. trój-słupową, aż po wersję cztero-słupową komory grobowej z płaskim zadaszeniem bez słupa centralnego (patrz: ryc. 3 i 4), dodatkowo także zbudowano model kurhanu składający się z poszczególnych warstw płaszczy ziemnych (patrz: ryc. 5 i 6). Całość przeniesiono do środowiska 3D (przy zastosowaniu programu Gimp2, Photoshop) całość zestawiano i porównywano. W efekcie prowadzonych analiz okazało się możliwym zanegowanie obowiązującej dotychczas hipotezy dotyczącej formy konstrukcyjnej komory grobowej analizowanego kurhanu. Co więcej ustalono możliwy surowiec i sposób wykonania tejże komory, co dodatkowo potwierdziły obliczenia matematyczne ale i elementy pośrednie jak choćby konstrukcja nasypu kamiennego tego obiektu.

Sama konstrukcja grobów stanowi jedynie o określonych umiejętnościach i wiedzy, czy innym są jednak według mnie stosowane układy zwłok. Ten elementem obrządku pogrzebowego przekazuje informacje tak pragmatyczne jak sposób ułożenia zwłok względem stron świata, położenia ich na konkretnym boku, stopnia ich skurczenia ale też określonego położenia kończyn. Osobno – są  to surowe dane, aczkolwiek w połączeniu umożliwiają korelację nie tylko z innymi ugrupowaniami poprzez potencjalne kontakty w sferze paneuropejskich wierzeń w danym regionie ale jednostkowo ukazują także „coś” o czym archeolodzy czasem zapominają badając groby: szkielety to nie „zabytki”, a ludzie, którzy zmarli przed nami: Kochali, nienawidzili, tworzyli, burzyli, wędrowali, budowali, zakładali rodziny – byli naszymi przodkami i w jakim sensie pozostali w nas poprzez DNA. I choćby przez to należy się im szacunek, a nie traktowanie jak przedmiot poprzez odkładanie na półkę w worku do magazynu. Zabrzmiało to mało naukowo, ale sądzę, iż czasem warto zastanowić się nad ludźmi z przeszłości i poprzez to także nad nami – archeologia jest nauką o przeszłości, która uczyć winna nie tylko wiedzy o przeszłości ale także lepszej przyszłości. Prowadząc analizy układów zwłok korzystam z metod statystycznych, ale także wykonuję rekonstrukcję wybranych pochówków. Choć w swych analizach mam dostęp do źródeł obrazujących sposób w jaki złożone zostały do jamy grobów szczątki zmarłego, to jednak dopiero rekonstrukcja 3D (rekonstrukcje układów zwłok dokonywane są przy użyciu oprogramowania Archeos, MakeHuman, Blender) umożliwia pełniejszy jej rozbiór dający potwierdzenie lub negację określonych założeń (np. ułożenie czaszki powyżej kości szkieletu mogące świadczyć, iż znajdowała się na niewielkim podwyższeniu – rodzaj podparcia). Z ciekawymi przykładami pochówków, jakie chciałbym tu przytoczyć, są groby z Nowej Cerekwi, Marszowic a także Tomic. Pierwszy z nich (patrz: ryc. 07) został odkryty co warte uwagi na osadzie (nie na cmentarzysku) grupy nowo – cerkwiańskiej i wystąpił w układzie nie anatomicznym, tzn. czaszka szkieletu została odwrócona o 180°  i znajdowała się w nieznacznym oddaleniu od szkieletu.

Wykonana przez ze mnie rekonstrukcja przedstawia zarówno stan faktyczny odnalezionych szczątków (dół ryciny) oraz prawdopodobny układ zwłok w wypadku gdy nie dokonano by dekapitacji (górna część ryciny). Drugi ww. pochówek (patrz: ryc. 08), tj. grób nr 11 z Marszowic, jest grobem zbiorowym gdzie złożono szczątki trojga osób – jednej dorosłej i dwojga dzieci. Warte jest jednak uwagi, że dzieci zostały złożone  pomiędzy szeroko rozsuniętymi ramionami dorosłego oraz  skierowane w jego stronę. W ostatnim ze wspominanych pochówków (patrz: ryc. 09), tj. grobie nr 29 z Tomic, do jamy złożono szczątki kobiety (w wieku ok. 22-25 lat) i kilkutygodniowego dziecka o nieokreślonej płci. Szczątki kobiety zachowały się w stanie dobrym, zaś szkielet dziecka w stanie fragmentarycznym. Kobietę ułożono na boku prawym w pozycji skurczonej, zaś szkielet dziecka znajdował się na wysokości żuchwy i klatki piersiowej, a tym samym dziecko znajdowało się pomiędzy ramionami kobiety. Refleksję – bez analiz naukowych – na temat tylko tych trzech pochowków pozostawiam czytającym.

Na zakończenie pragnę zauważyć, iż prowadzone przez mnie badania to nie tylko kwerendy, statystyki czy analizy naukowe ale także próba dostrzeżenia człowieka w badanym „materiale”. Brzmi to irracjonalnie jednak według mojej opinii poprzez analizę obrządku pogrzebowego dawnych społeczności możliwe będzie nie tylko powiększenie wiedzy w zakresie przeszłych społeczności ale w pewnym sensie rozwoju nas samych. Nie należy bowiem zapominać, ze niektóre rozwiązania czy zwyczaje dość długo trwały w świadomości społeczności mimo oczywistych zmian kulturowych.

Więcej w zakresie wiedzy naukowej i popularnonaukowej można znaleźć na poniższych stronach, gdzie staram się regularnie zamieszczać swoje wyniki badań:

—mgr Wojciech P. Zgurecki

Brick and tile, and hospitals

Roman roof tile

Tegula – fragment of Roman roof tile

What do I have on my plate at the moment? Not all of it is archaeology, but it’s certainly historical in nature. I am currently working on some ceramic building materials (CBM) from a site in East Yorkshire. This involves recording every fragment, unless very small and unfeatured:


*fabric (these days I just do a site fabric series, as I have no central series to tie it into)



*dimensions (only if there is a complete length, width or thickness; in effect, this normally tends to mean thickness unless there are brick samples)

*comments – this could be if the fragment has a fingerprint, pawprints, ‘signature,’ sanded edges, and so on

After this, I create a database from the paper forms I used to note down the information above. Much sorting of the database takes place, as I look for trends and differences. Then it’s writing up the report time, which is always the difficult bit …

While this is going on, I have other projects to keep on the boil. Looming large is an exhibition at York Castle Museum‘Home Comforts: the role of Red Cross Auxiliary Hospitals in the North Riding of Yorkshire 1914-1919’. I only have a small part to play, having formulated a display board about the St Johns Voluntary Aid Detachment hospitals in York, using photographs from a local society image collection. Setting up will take place on 1st August.

VAD Hospitals in York WW1

VAD Hospitals in York WW1

In September, I’m off for another week in Ravenglass, cataloguing finds ready for sending off to specialists. And when I get back, I’ll be thinking over the results of brick recording in Cawood – volunteers will have recorded the bricks on local buildings, after I gave them an introduction to the wonderful world of bricks earlier in July.

Talking about brick in Cawood

Talking about brick in Cawood