Experimental Archaeology

Albion Experimental Archaeology Studio (US)

Member of EXARC

The mission of the Albion Experimental Archaeology Studio (AEAS) is to provide a venue for experimental archaeology in the pyrotechnical crafts, teach and mentor students, and perform public outreach. Experimental archaeology is a fast-growing field that allows for a wide range of investigative techniques and research questions. From potting to smelting to stone-working, experiments yield a tremendous amount of information on manufacturing processes and technical knowledge of ancient peoples. The finished products may also be used in practical and experiential studies, from cutting hides with stone knives to recreating dining practices.

The founder of AEAS, Dr Mara Horowitz of Purchase College, SUNY, used experience from archaeological fieldwork and experimental archaeology in Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze and Iron Age Cyprus and Turkey to establish a venue for experimental work in pyrotechnical craft s in the United States located on a 4.5 acre former farm. Based in Danbury, CT, (70km north of NYC and connected by train) the studio has both modern and traditional pottery technologies from a professional electric kiln and power wheel to a custom-made kick wheel, outdoor pit kiln and improvised updraft kilns.

The Arrowheads of the Squared-Mouthed-Pottery Culture: Reconstruction and Shooting Experiment

Maddalena Sartori (IT)
11th EAC Trento 2019
***This international experimental project focused on the production of replicas of different models of flat-retouched flint arrowheads (stemmed, with flat base, and ogives -with rounded base-) in use within the Neolithic Squared-Mouthed-Pottery Culture (SMP) of Northern Italy. The aim was to test their efficiency in order to understand if...

Basalt Handaxes: Preliminarily Testing the Lithic Translation Strategy Hypothesis and Comparisons with the Fontana Ranuccio Site Bifacial Tools

Giorgio Chelidonio (IT)
11th EAC Trento 2019
***The oldest bifacial “handaxes” known so far belong to the “Kokiselei 4” site, dated to 1.76 Ma (West Turkana, Kenya; Texier, 2018). They have been manufactured by direct lithic percussion on magmatic effusive stone materials. Considering that the evolution of “fully operational intelligence” (Wynn, 1979) has been associated with the so-called...

The Contribution of Experimental Archaeology in Addressing the Analysis of Residues on Spindle-Whorls

Vanessa Forte (UK),
Francesca Coletti (DE, IT),
Elena Ciccarelli (IT) and
Cristina Lemorini (IT)
11th EAC Trento 2019
***This contribution focuses on residues developing on spindle-whorls during spinning. Such a kind of tools is largely diffused in archaeological contexts where spindle-whorls were used in textile activities or deposited in burials as grave goods. Scholars recently approached...

Making, Multi-Vocality and Experimental Archaeology: The Pallasboy Project

Benjamin Gearey,
Mark Griffiths,
Brian Mac Domhnaill,
Cathy Moore and
Orla-Peach Power (IE)
This paper outlines The Pallasboy Project, which set out to craft a replica of the eponymous Irish Iron Age wooden vessel. We consider the process and progress of the project, as it developed in a number of slightly unusual directions. The paper includes a description of the experimental work, alongside personal reflections and comments by...

Grupo de Estudos de Arqueoloxía, Antigüidade e Territorio, Universidade de Vigo (ES)

Member of EXARC

The Group of Studies of Archeology, Antiquity and Territory -GEAAT- is a research group of the Faculty of History of the University of Vigo composed of 42 researchers who provide diverse perspectives, all linked to the study of the territory and natural resources of Northwestern Iberia from the first human occupation until late time.

One of its research lines is Study of the phenomenon of prehistoric metallurgy, study of anthropological models of interpretation of the past and archaeological experimentation applied to the knowledge of the operational technical chain.

Researchers of the group participate in the teaching of the subject Ethnoarchaeology and experimental Archeology, within the framework of the interuniversity master in Archeology and Sciences of Antiquity (University of Santiago, University of Vigo and CSIC)

Universitat de Barcelona (ES)

Member of EXARC

Since 1995 the Grup de Recerca d’Arqueologia Medieval i Post-medieval (GRAMP-UB) is an in-terdisciplinary team lead by University of Barcelona, formed by members of different national and international institutions.

Its target is to study the medieval and post medieval archaeological re-mains. The new Degree in Archaeology offers to the students the possibility to collaborate in the excavation campaigns in medieval sites, and also some practices in Experimental Archaeology: for instance, they can do some experimental training at the AREA in l’Esquerda, Roda de Ter, an Open-Air Laboratory dedicated to experimental works.

Universität Hamburg (DE)

Member of EXARC

Since the 1990s, experimental archaeology has been anchored in teaching and scientific research in pre- and early-historical archaeology at the University of Hamburg, and has been applied in different ways and considered in individual theses with a clear archaeological experimental contribution.

By 2004, the Experimental Archaeology with its own seminar and adjoin practice part is an integral part of the curriculum of Prehistoric and Early Archaeology. In addition to the introduction to the history, theories and methods of experimental archaeology, the seminar offers students the opportunity to develop their own projects with archaeological-experimental questions. The supervision of the students takes place on the whole by two experimental archaeologists and is supplemented by further experts for certain questions.

Bilecik Seyh Edebali Universitesi (TR)

Member of EXARC

In archaeology, where practice and experimentation are important research components, new approaches and methodologies are continuously developed. In our country we now have a number of interdisciplinary studies on public archaeology, as well as archaeo-parks and open-air museums, and these are an extremely important tool to sensitize the general public regarding issues of cultural heritage. 

This notwithstanding, in Turkey there are presently no institutional structures that allow the formation of new researchers or the continuity in practice and education, and therefore experimental archaeology struggles to become a tool for research. One of the main objectives of this center is to offer a session of introduction and formation on experimental archaeology to both Turkish academics and students at the master and doctoral level.

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (NL)

Member of EXARC

The University of Groningen has seen numerous experimental archaeology projects throughout the years, such as the construction of a medieval sod house and experimentation with growing crops in salt marshes in Frisia. These projects were guided by research interests, but it is not (yet) incorporated firmly in the curriculum. Introductions to flint knapping are provided for new students each year. 

The student-led Workgroup Experimental Archaeology Groningen (WEAG) was founded in 2019 to create an environment where fellow students can be introduced to experimental archaeology. They get to know natural materials otherwise only encountered during excavations, while at the same time practising with the creation and implementation of research designs, as well as their execution and presentation.