Rob Ixer’s Day of Archaeology

A pretty average day, I am a geologist, or to be specific a mineralogist who did a little archaeology in the 1960s.

Now I look at rocks, pots and ores for archaeologists to try to determine their geographical origins using a couple of rather large and now ancient microscopes. I am retired and like to think of myself as a 21st century Victorian ‘Divine’ so self funded mainly but free to look where and at what I want or am asked to.
After looking at some Neolithic pottery from the West Country to decide if more work should be done on them, slicing them and grinding them to make thin sections. Some is commercial work and some is from interested amateurs and done for the joy of knowing.

However, today I have two main tasks:

To look at rocks from the Sacred Valley (‘septic valley’) in Peru as part of a long standing, over 30 years, study of Inka use of stone in their pottery and buildings. The Inka produced very large very beautiful pottery now called ATF ware now but it was called Inka Fine Ware or Cuzco Inka -it seems that the use of certain rocks from certain places was very special to the Inka.

To start to read and review two very splendidly illustrated Conference volumes on ancient gold and silver (as a mineralogist I specialised in gold, silver and PGE minerals), Recently a number of books on exotic ‘well-furnished’ grave goods have appeared from Wessex and from Europe.

I shall take a day off from my ‘day job’ working on Stonehenge although I shall trawl the Stonehenge blogs to see what is new, always something.

So a very typical day, slow progress (I hope) in old style data-gathering archaeology. I hope not to hear the words post-processualist all day.

Dr Rob Ixer, FSA

Virgil Yendell: Geoarchaeologist and his lovely sediments

Here are some shots of a trial pit under a former pub in Victoria. The lovely sediments from the base show c. 10,000 yr old fluvial gravels over lain by sandy deposits of a substantial tributary of the Thames, possibly the Tyburn, running through Victoria. During the prehistoric this river appears to have silted up and a waterlogged woodland is evident from the brown peaty deposits, which later developed into possible clayey water meadows that would have been used for pasture during the historic period.