Day of Archaeology – a little of this a little of that

Yo and Mo

Yorke Rowan and Morag Kersel at Marj Rabba

This day of archaeology was filled with not one single task but a variety of “to dos” in the lives of archaeologists. This is a study season for the Galilee Prehistory Project. We are not excavating, we are analyzing and writing, working toward a timely publication of the Chalcolithic (c. 4600-3600 BCE) site of Marj Rabba. It is sometimes difficult to get motivated each day to head to the containers to get boxes of flint for analysis or to comb through field notes and databases pulling together descriptions. We miss being in the field. But a large part of our commitment to the discipline is our obligation to publish the results of our research.

Artifacts from Marj Rabba in storage

Artifacts from Marj Rabba in storage

Yorke studying the lithics from Marj Rabba

Yorke studying the lithics from Marj Rabba

Natalie Munro and Ashley Petrillo taking samples of Chalcolithic animal bones.

Natalie Munro and Ashley Petrillo taking samples of Chalcolithic animal bones.

In the morning Ashley Petrillo, a grad student from the University of Connecticut, dropped by to look at some animal bones – she’s getting samples from the Chalcolithic for her dissertation work. Later in the day we met up with a group of archaeologists at the American Colony garden bar. In Israel it is legal to buy archaeological material from one of 60 licensed shops in the country. One of the licensed antiquities shops is located at the American Colony, so I continued the Day of Archaeology by stopping by and checking on the material for sale or “not for sale” in the shop.

Archaeological artifacts "not for sale" at the American Colony

Archaeological artifacts “not for sale” at the American Colony

My day started with a query from a museum professional about a potential donation from a private individual. The items for donation were purchased from a licensed antiquities dealer in Israel but there were still questions about the legal and ethical dimensions of accepting artifacts purchased from the market. The day ended as it began thinking about artifacts for sale in the legal marketplace in Israel. Truthfully the day ended with some martinis in the American Colony garden bar and a lively discussion about “diseases you have contracted while on excavation”… additional martinis were required.

Archaeologists and drinks at the American Colony

Archaeologists and drinks at the American Colony

A reminder from my Day of Archaeology last year – protect yourself from the sun!

The Bitterley Hoard – An Introduction

PAS Logo

Part of working for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) means that I have handled more important artefacts than the average field or museum archaeologist. I am going to try (technology permitting) to give a flavour of this today by using a relatively recent find to highlight the work we do and how one find can shed light on a much bigger picture .

A hoard of silver coins

The Bitterley hoard

The hoard of coins was originally found in February 2011 (a long time before this day of archaeology) by a metal detector user. The hoard dates from the civil war and they have been slowly working their way through the treasure system. The find reached a crucial stage yesterday – when Mr John Ellery, HM Coroner for Shropshire, found that they constituted a case of treasure. This offical opinion is based upon hours (and weeks) of careful research by the staff of the British Museum, me and other colleagues at the PAS.

Over the next few posts today I hope to show you the different facets of the PAS and Treasure. I’m hoping to do this throughout the day in small bite size chunks. I hope you enjoy the journey and this day of archaeology for 2012.


Peter Reavill

Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire

Portable Antiquities Scheme.


ps: this is me – getting my hands dirty

Peter Reavill at work