Date: January 6 & 7, 2012
Venue: Organised by the University of York (UK)
Content: 12 lectures, 13 posters
See: Conference review by Ruth Fillery-Travis
SESSION 1: EXPERIMENTS IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL GEOSCIENCES
Reconstructing past water availability with plant stable isotope ratios: re-assessing a method by using experimental archaeology
Pascal Flohr, Gundula Müldner, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading (UK), Emma Jenkins, School of Applied Sciences, Bournemouth University (UK)
It has been argued that stable isotope ratios of archaeological plant remains can be used to reconstruct past water availability, both as rainfall and related anthropogenic practices such as irrigation. The use of the method is based on the relationship between plant carbon stable isotopes and water availability as attested in modern crops. Because this method is potentially very valuable but its application to archaeological samples is relatively new, this research seeks to improve its empirical basis and test the suitability of archaeological samples, using experimental archaeology.
The relationship between water availability, other environmental variables, and plant stable isotope ratios was assessed by using experimentally grown cereals. Wheat, barley and sorghum were raised at three sites in Jordan for up to three years, each receiving five different amounts of irrigation. Results indicate a relationship between water availability and carbon stable isotope ratios of wheat and barley grains, but one that is site-specific. No relationship between nitrogen stable isotope ratios and water availability was found, but significant differences in nitrogen stable isotope ratios were present between sites.
Because archaeobotanical remains are often preserved in a charred state, the possible effect of charring on stable isotope ratios was assessed. Isotope ratios of grains experimentally charred in a muffle furnace and in open fires were altered in a few cases, but these can be corrected for.
In addition, samples were buried at sites in the UK and Jordan and retrieved after up to two years to assess possible effects of soil processes on their isotopic composition. Results indicate that burial for this amount of time does not alter isotopic ratios in any systematic way. This paper will thus argue that based on these experiments the method can be applied to archaeological samples for reconstruction of past water availability, but with some limitations.
Identifying formation processes in the archaeological record using experimental geoarchaeology
Rowena Y Banerjea, Centre for Sustainable Heritage, University College London, (UK), Wendy Matthews, Alex Brown, Michael Fulford & Amanda Clarke, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading (UK)
Both experimental archaeology and geoarchaeology have an important role to play in our understanding of the formation processes in the archaeological record. Understanding formation processes and post-depositional alterations within the archaeological record is crucial for archaeologists’ interpretation of stratigraphy and the material culture within archaeological deposits. Experimental archaeology enables targeted examination of, for example, activity areas, specific depositional processes and chronological timescales. Geoarchaeology enables archaeological sediments to be examined at high resolution.
Geoarchaeological fieldwork at experimental sites and micromorphological analysis of occupation deposits from experimental buildings has produced important information and observations concerning: the variety of depositional pathways of materials into deposits; the formation processes of different deposit types; and post-depositional processes within roofed and unroofed spaces. The observations from experimental sites were used to assist with interpreting archaeological results from Insula IX at Silchester, UK.
Experimental field observations and micromorphological analysis have identified: depositional pathways of materials, such as rock fragments, building materials, artefacts and ecofacts coming into buildings; transportation routes and cycles of materials within buildings and key areas within building for the deposition of activity residues. Micromorphological analysis of experimental occupation deposits has identified localised distributions of activity residues including eroded building materials and assemblages. Experimental archaeology at Butser and Lejre has made key observations concerning post-depositional chemical alteration, trampling, and mesofaunal bioturbation and the impact of these on different geological substrates and timescales in the life-history of buildings.
There are striking similarities in sediment attributes between the experimental and archaeological deposit types from Insula IX at Silchester, indicating that experimental data should be broadly applicable to archaeological settlements in temperate environments. The application of micromorphological comparatives from experimental archaeology has enabled a greater degree of certainty to be applied to micromorphological results from archaeological materials from Silchester. Experimental research has enabled questions concerning formation processes in the archaeological record to be addressed in two different geological settings, on chalk at Butser, and on Glacial till at Lejre.
Environmental magnetism (frequency dependent magnetic susceptibility) as a proxy for differentiating between natural and anthropogenic burning in the hominin archaeological record.
Sally Hoare, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool (UK), Professor John Gowlett, School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool (UK)
The identification of human controlled fire in the hominin record prior to 780,000 ka is extremely problematic where obvious remains such as ash or charcoal have not been preserved. Reddening of clay deposits can provide an indication of burning whether by natural means such as grass/bush fires or by human activity, and numerous examples of these deposits have been discovered at early hominin sites such as Chesowanja, Koobi Fora, Kenya and Gadeb, Ethiopia. Previous experimental work suggests that magnetic susceptibility, palaeointensity studies, isothermal remanent magnetisation, anhysteretic remanent magnetisation, temperature and coercivity of remanence studies all produce unequivocal evidence in identifying human controlled fire in the hominin archaeological record. However, a number of problems are apparent in each of these approaches and results so far for all early hominin sites have never produced conclusive evidence in support of early human use of fire. A further magnetic parameter which has never been utilised as an indicator of differentiating between natural and human fire events in the archaeological record is frequency dependent magnetic susceptibility. Frequency dependent magnetic susceptibility or Χfd% measures the concentration of superparamagnetic grains present in a sample. Superparamagnetic enhancement has been shown to occur during pedogenesis, presence of bacterial magnetoautosomes and through burning. This study presents the results of experimental work carried out on modern samples taken from a campfire and bushfire at Kilombe,
Kenya, the methodology was then applied to archaeological samples from Chesowanja, Kenya. It is expected that higher temperatures and multiple burn campfires will produce ultrafine superparamagnetic grains whereas lower temperatures, bushfires will produce viscous single domain superparamagnetic grains, thus providing a new methodology that can potentially be used to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic burning in the archaeological record.
SESSION 2: EXPERIMENTS IN ARTEFACT TECHNOLOGY AND FUNCTION
A matter of microns: reverse engineering of Egyptian Faience manufacture
Esme A. Hammerle, School of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology, University of Liverpool (UK)
Faience is considered to be the first ‘high-tech’ non-clay ceramic and has been produced for over 5,000 years. However, a ‘true’ replica of this material has never been made successfully. There have been many studies which have attempted and have come close, but it is still an enigma. This was one of the main issues that this project set out to examine. This PhD research started by trying to understand how the technology and chemical composition of faience in Egypt changed from the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 BC) to the New Kingdom (1570-1070 BC) by analyzing beads from dated tombs at Abydos, Egypt. This includes developing a methodology for determining the raw material sources utilized in the production of faience, specifically the colorants and the silica and alkali sources using several different analytical methods (SEM-EDS, crystallography, electron backscatter diffraction and strontium isotope analysis). Once the archaeological samples have yielded all of their ‘secrets’, the final question must be whether the knowledge and understanding gained is sufficient to enable accurate replicas to be produced? In theory once the analysis is completed (i.e. the raw material sources have been identified, the firing temperature has been estimated, glazing method and forming method has been determined) all of this knowledge should aid in producing exact replicas of the archaeological material, but does it? The results of the experimental work undertaken for this PhD research will be presented and compared with the archaeological material analyzed.
Experiments on Aurignacian clay structures, to reveal technology, firing and use
Malgorzata Kot, Institute of Archaeology, Warsaw University (PL)
So far from the period of the Palaeolithic only hearth or stove-like features discovered at the site in Dolni Vestonice were known and considered as the oldest evidence on the use of fired clay by man. This situation was changed by research carried out at site Klisoura Cave 1 in the Peloponnese in Greece. At Klisoura 1 layers dated to the Upper Palaeolithic yielded over 100 concave clay hearths. These forms were marked by having a circular outline and deep rust-red hue. There was a layer of ashes over most of these structures. Analyses of clay samples show that the rust-hued structures are made of fired clay.
Experiments were undertaken to determine the techniques of execution, possible firing and methods of using the clay hearths by Upper Palaeolithic people. Initially we tested various possibilities offered by burning fires over this type of structure, in order to test possible ways of using the clay hearths. During later stages of the project the focus shifted to the number of firing episodes and different ways of carrying them out and taking, if possible, measurements of temperature of the clay and the fire.
The project consisted of many individual experiments. A single experiment consisted of building an experimental clay hearth and fitting it with temperature sensors. The obtained structure was fired. Each form was fired once or several times depending on the assumptions of the experiment, each time taking measurements of the temperature of the fire and of the clay within the clay hearth. Based on experimental research and comparison with the results of analysis of animal and plant micro- and macroremains, the author developed two hypothesis on the possible uses of the Aurignacian concave clay hearths.
Recreating residues: an experimental approach to prehistoric cooking with ceramics
Cynthianne Debono Spiteri, BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York (UK)
Organic residue analysis (ORA) has been routinely applied to determine the content and function of archaeological ceramics and has been used to address key questions in European prehistory, particularly concerning changes in resource exploitation through time. Nevertheless, knowledge of how residues are formed within the walls of ceramic vessels is still fairly limited.
For example, mixtures of foodstuffs are difficult to interpret since they may originate from the simultaneous cooking of various products together or, alternatively, sequentially in the same pot. Also it is unclear how many cooking events are required to produce a detectable residue. Hence, when no lipid is found in a pot what must we conclude? Obtaining low quantities of lipids from archaeological residues is usually explained in terms of degradation; however this might not always be the case. Plants are a case in point. Vegetative material has largely been ignored as a significant commodity processed in prehistoric pots, because they are rarely identified using ORA, despite their perceived importance in the Neolithic diet. The apparent absence of plant residues may be related to our analytical techniques which favour lipid rich animal products, but this could equally be due to how they were processed, which might have left little residue in the first place. One way to address these questions is to conduct experiments. Here, I will review past cooking experiments, present new data on the processing of plant material, and consider the archaeological implications.
The shield in ancient Egypt: an experiment on the construction, functionality and performance of Middle Kingdom rawhide shields
William Stonborough, Department of Archaeology, University of York (UK)
This paper examines experimental archaeology carried out as part of an MA thesis, which critically reviews and contributes to current academic knowledge regarding the shape, materials and functionality of ancient Egyptian protective military equipment. Whilst a wide range of equipment is reviewed in this thesis, the experimental work focused on Middle Kingdom rawhide shields. Evidence for the use of shields in ancient Egypt dates back to Predynastic times, and they are ubiquitous in depictions of Egyptian soldiers throughout the Dynastic period. Despite this fact, very few shields have survived in the archaeological record, and little is known about their construction, evolution through time, or their functionality and
performance. As a result of this lack of evidence, scholars have often been forced to make assumptions on the nature of
Egyptian shields based on artistic representations or highly fragmented artefact remains.
The experiment carried out was intended to assess the validity of some of these assumptions. For this purpose, a replica of a Middle Kingdom rawhide shield was built using an experimental construction method. This replica was then tested with professionally made replicas of bronze weapons used in the ancient Near East and Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdom periods. The results of this experiment, supported by photographic record, will be presented in this paper. The conclusions which were drawn from these results will then be presented, and avenues for further study examined.
SESSION 3: EXPERIMENTS IN ARTEFACT USE AND TAPHONOMY
Microscopic analysis of experimentally abraded stone tools
Wei Chu, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading (UK), and Charlie Thompson, School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, and National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)
The vast majority of open-air Palaeolithic sites have been modified by fluvial processes but to date, methods to reconstruct post-depositional histories of Palaeoliths remain inapplicable and insensitive to the majority of finds. Recent work on fossil bone abrasion suggests that Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) of surface features can provide important clues to their taphonomy. An obvious goal is to therefore apply similar methods to stone implements. Developing these techniques for stone tools would allow archaeologists to analyze spatial context with greater resolution and provide a much needed method for cross-artifact comparison.
This paper describes experiments that apply SEM to flint fracture surfaces to identify features diagnostic of water flow from experimental archaeological sets abraded in annular flumes. Results indicate that flint surface morphology is a very sensitive marker of fluvial abrasion that can provide information on the nature of Palaeolith transport including transport type, and sedimentary context.
Controlled ballistic experiments with glass replicas of Levallois points: the effect of energy, momentum, and angle on fracture types
Radu Iovita, Department of Palaeolithic Studies, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz, Neuwied (DE), Holger Schönekeß, Dynamische Druckmessung, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig (DE), Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser, Department of Palaeolithic Studies, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz, Neuwied (DE), Frank Jäger, Dynamische Druckmessung, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig (DE)
In the last decade the body of evidence in favor of Neandertal hunting has grown. The concurrence of the faunal data, the discovery of the Schöningen spears, that of the Umm-el-Tlel stone tip embedded in a vertebra and the ever-increasing evidence for hafting in the Middle Paleolithic suggests that hunting with a variety of weapons is quite ancient. Despite much work on identifying fracture and wear patterns associated with stone projectile use, no unambiguous criteria for carrying out the identifications exist. We argue that this is because previous studies have not sufficiently controlled for confounding factors, and we describe here the first results of a rigorous experimental program which should enable us to create a reference collection of impact fractures. We test the effect of kinetic energy, momentum, and angle of impact on fracture patterns in identical glass copies of an archaeological Levallois point from Jabrud (controlling for shape and raw material fracture properties). The copies were cold-pressed as to not alter the brittleness of the glass, resulting in a material similar to archaeologically-available obsidian. A series of recent controlled experiments in flake propagation have further demonstrated the similarity of glass to many of the siliceous materials used by past hominins and, consequently, its suitability for experimentation.
In our experimental design, the projectiles are slot-hafted with beeswax in wooden shafts and are shot at homogeneous targets made of synthetic materials (ballistic gelatine, ballistic soap, and synthetic polyurethane plates which simulate the properties of cortical bone). They are first launched from a high-precision ballistic air-gun which measures the exact exit velocity with the aid of a photoelectric barrier. The test velocities are matched to those of experimentally and ethnographically observed speeds found in the literature. In order to test the effect of increasing momentum without changing the kinetic energy, and to simulate thrusting spears, a second experiment is carried out, where the spears are attached to a variably-weighted pendulum. The preliminary results of this work indicate that the variability of damage traces is much higher than expected for such tightly controlled conditions. However, of the factors investigated, the angle of impact seems to provide the most reliable indicator of damage extent on the tips of the projectile points. We present here the results of this experimental program and discuss implications for further work. This research is funded by the German Science Foundation.
From drawing board to workbench: revisiting Viking antler comb manufacture
Ian Dennis, Jacqui Mulville and Niall Sharples, Department of Archaeology, SHARE, Cardiff University (UK)
The role of the illustrator in understanding archaeological material is often underestimated, however when combined with skills in craft production this observation translates into action and new insights into artefacts can be realised. This paper discusses the development of a research project focused on antler comb production from the Norse site of Bornais, South Uist, Western Isles. This is the largest Norse comb working site in Britain outside of urban centres such as York and Dublin; why so many combs were produced at this one site remains a mystery.
Part of the process of studying the artefacts from this site is their illustration for comparison and for record. During the illustration of the many Norse antler combs, comb fragments and comb manufacturing debris from Bornais by Ian Dennis (ID) close study of the objects revealed numerous tool marks and construction techniques that provided new details on the methods of manufacture. Research into proposed techniques of bone working led to the development of a project to study every stage in antler bone combs production from modern red deer antler to finished object through the involvement of the illustrator/craftmans (ID). During this process it was possible for ID to make a series of observations about the processes. He become fully engaged with the physicality of the material (its properties, smell and texture) and with the decision making process (the chaine operatoire) that occurs in comb production.
The production of the first few complete combs has provided us with a deeper understanding of the stages of antler comb manufacture, the potential and limitations of the material as well as the decisions made regarding resource choice. It has also become apparent that the craftspeople that produced these combs had access to a range of high quality, specialised tools that do not survive nor previously recognised in the archaeological record. This paper summarises our results and considers the role of resources (both antler and tools), skills and individuals in the production of the various types of bone combs represented at Bornais and more broadly within British Norse assemblages. The combs, tools and working debris will also be presented.
SESSION 4: PRACTISING EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY
Practitioner, professional and the public: examining the impact of experimental archaeology on different user groups
Gaynor Wood, School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences, University of Central Lancashire (UK)
As experimental archaeology becomes a more mainstream study, there is also much debate over the definition of the term ‘experimental archaeology’ and the methodology of experiments undertaken, and perhaps more ambiguously ‘ownership’ of the area itself. However, what does appear to be missing from the literature is any discussion on the affect or impact of experimental archaeology on the different user groups of practitioner, professional and the public. In a discussion workshop I
would like consider what we think are the expectations of these three groups and invite the audience to discuss that we might mean by ‘impact’, how it could be measured and what assessment criteria might be used.
Learning and teaching in experimental archaeology
Ruth Fillery-Travis, Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UK)
The ways in which past peoples communicated knowledge is of considerable importance to studies of technological processes, and is an area in which experimental archaeology could prove highly informative. Whilst some teaching of experimental work takes place within traditional Further Education structures (c.f. Sheffield University), much of the techniques we seek to study are learnt or communicated in a strictly ad-hoc, informal, and sometimes solitary manner. In all cases, it is difficult to assess methods of past communication without codifying our own methods of teaching and learning.
In this context, I use the term ‘experimental archaeology’ to encompass not only strictly empirical hypothesis testing but also the domains of experiential work and the ‘re/creation’ of past technologies for demonstration, replication and pleasure. I argue against the act of seeking legitimacy in the eyes of ‘mainstream’ archaeologies (cf. Experimental archaeology session at EAA 2006) by focussing on empirical approaches, and for a rejection of the hierarchical perspective which privileges this. Rather I propose an integrated model where we accept that experimental archaeologists often work within multiple domains and that this contributes to deeper, more complex understandings of technological practices than any individual approach.
Within this structure I propose four distinct patterns to learning and teaching; describing these modes as self-taught, advisory assistance, formal apprenticeships and informal participation. I discuss their use in terms of the domains of practice discussed above, and crucially how these different teaching and learning relationships contribute to different understandings of the technological process itself. The teaching and learning environment has considerable and prolonged impact on our understanding of both the finished object and the technological process, and I explore how this has the potential to influence the way we frame and contextualise the practice of these technologies within our own work, and how this can echo beyond to confines of experimentation to the interpretation of archaeological evidence and its communication.
Understanding our own learning environments therefore forms an important part of a self-reflexive and critical approach, and is necessary in contexts where we position ourselves as experts, whether those are formal academic, informal exchanges of knowledge or experimental studies or interactions with the public. In identifying the way we have learnt our own skills by mapping these different learning environments, we are closer to understanding the modern context of our experimental practice, a necessary step towards relating our own experiences to past practitioners. Whether we consider ourselves empirical, experiential or re/creative experimental archaeologists, understanding current methods of knowledge communication should help us better ground our own practice and our research into past practitioners.
Breaking point: a new method for assessing impact fractures
Danielle Davies, Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter (UK)
This poster will detail a new approach to impact fracture experiments, in particular those regarding projectile point damage, which sees knapped stone substituted for porcelain clay. Unlike traditional methods which use flaked stone tips, this approach affords greater control over variables (such as size, shape and weight) by use of a single mould, is considerably more time efficient, and can be conducted by anyone with a basic ability in pressure-flaking. Its merits will be discussed alongside the experiment which piloted the method, including potential avenues for future research.
Women and weapons in ancient Egypt: the functionality of weaponry associated with women in the Dynastic Period
Rebecca Dean, Department of Archaeology, University of York (UK)
This paper examines experimental archaeology carried out as part of a PhD thesis. The thesis examines weapons used in ancient Egypt, focussing particularly on those weapons associated with women during the Dynastic Period i.e. c.3100BC - 332BC. The experimental work expands on previous work carried out as part of a master’s thesis focussing on the effectiveness of the mace, by also examining the axe, dagger and scimitar-like khopesh. Although these weapons appear throughout the Dynastic Period, they were particularly significant in the 18th Dynasty in the specific forms used in the experimental archaeology. They were also associated with women both in artistic portrayals and literary sources and made up part of female burial equipment. Therefore the experimental archaeology was designed to test the effectiveness of each of these weapons when employed by a woman, to test the hypothesis that the weapons associated with Egyptian women were functional objects rather than simply votive items as is so often assumed.
The experimental archaeology was carried out with specially commissioned replica weapons based ancient Egyptian examples and using a pig carcass as a human proxy. The results will be presented in this paper, together with photographs and video footage of the experiments themselves. The conclusions will then be presented, along with further questions raised during the process and the potential for future research in this much neglected subject area.
The application of skinning experiments to the interpretation of bone assemblages
Eva Fairnell, Department of Archaeology, University of York (UK)
The pelts of fur-bearing animals have sartorial significance when used to create garments. The different colours and features of fur-bearing species can be used to create patterns and particular effects. For example, the backs and bellies of squirrels can be used to create a distinctive pattern, and tails of stoat can be used as embellishments.
It is often presumed that skinning an animal for its pelt can leave traces of evidence of the process, for example as cut marks on particular bones and particular assemblages of skeletal elements representing the parts of the carcass retained or not with the pelt. However, skinning an animal, particularly when it has only very recently been killed, can leave no evidence at all, and the desired end product could mean an animal is skinned in a more specific way than the generic case and open techniques.
The skinning of stoats, hares and squirrels has been carried out with a view to informing the interpretation of archaeological assemblages containing fur-bearing species. Prior experience as a taxidermist was also applied. Some experiments were carried out to compare the use of different blades, and the skinning of different species. All recent skinning was also done while being mindful of the ways in which the fur could be used as part of a garment. The experience of skinning these small fur-bearing animals provides great insight into the subtle variability that can exist in the methods, tools and techniques involved, and the likelihood of diagnostic cut marks and bone assemblages existing.
The results of the experimental skinning, and the overview provided by experience of skinning, were applied to the taphonomic signatures revealed by a meta-analysis of assemblages of fur-bearing species. The latter analysis indicated that the most frequent depositions appeared to be of complete carcasses with no cut marks. The former experiments revealed, for example, how easy it is to pull the pelt free of the paws of small fur-bearers such stoat and squirrel, with no use of a blade. A skinned carcass can easily bear no trace of the skinning process. Conversely, an assemblage of, for example, just the paws of squirrels suggests a very specific process. Rather than representing skinning waste, i.e. deposition of the unwanted parts of a carcass, deposits of just squirrel or mustelid paws appear far more likely to represent the remains of an actual garment, on which the paws were a desired sartorial embellishment. There would be no need for paws to be left intact with the pelts at the time of skinning if they were not required for the end product, because to do so would be more time consuming than just pulling the pelt free.
José Miguel Gallego Cañamero, ARTIFEX, conservació i recreació del patrimoni arqueològic (ES)
For a long time in Spanish archaeology there has been little experimentation on weaponry of the Iberian pre-Roman people. The wider project will be reproducing the complete weaponry making process during Iberian times. This poster presents one part of the study: how the iron is acquired by a direct reduction process from the limited archaeological evidence. Some of the clearest recorded evidence is located in the Iberian settlement of Les Guàrdies (El Vendrell, Tarragona, Spain), dated from the last IIIrd Cent. BC. From this we have been able to propose a hypothetical reconstruction of an iron making furnace for experimentation. Despite having failed in our initial objective of making iron, we can talk about some of the hypotheses, although not definitive, that help us to understand this major part of the iron production process in Iberian times.
Prospects of testing haftings and use for Neolithic and Chalcolithic stone halberds
Christian Horn, Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg (SE), Tine Schenck, Freelance Experimental Archaeologist (NO)
As part of the discourse of the European Copper and Early Bronze age, metal-cast halberds are always accompanied by the discussion whether or not halberds made of stone existed; either as predecessors or as contemporary objects. Several types of blades have been interpreted as possible stone halberds, but this hypothesis has not been supported by evidence beyond the mere notion of the possibility. In recent years, experiments have been carried out on bronze halberds. However, stone halberds have never been subject to such experimental testing.
In recent years the theory has gained credibility with the discovery of Grave 2 from Spilamberto (Emilia Romagna, Italy). A stone blade was discovered placed parallel to the collarbone and was subsequently interpreted as a halberd because of its positioning. Furthermore, the dating of metal halberds in the 4th BC in the Western Carpathian Mountains and Italy provides a contemporary background for Klaus Ebbesen’s hypothesis of a presence of stone halberds in the Funnel Beaker period of the Western Baltic Sea since these regions were connected at the time. This poster presents an outline to put the suggested construction of stone halberds of both aforementioned types to an experimental test. It aims at several questions: 1. Is it possible to haft stone blades as halberds? 2. Did they have utilitarian properties? 3. Does the experiment leave use-wear and hafting traces distinguishable from actual dagger blades?
Nada Khreisheh, Bruce Bradley, Department of Archaeology, University of Exeter (UK)
Recognising skill levels in archaeological flaked remains is an important issue, especially if we wish to identify individuals and understand prehistoric learning and teaching practices. Experimental studies of individuals learning flint-knapping provide invaluable data on skill acquisition. Studying the products of learners can provide us with collections of knapped stone objects of individuals at different skill levels that we can compare to archaeological artefacts and form conclusions about the skill levels we can identify. However, identification of skill in experimental knappers can be hampered by raw material constraints.
Flakeable stone is rarely a completely consistent material and each stone blank is of different dimensions and holds different challenges, making it hard to make direct skill comparisons between individuals. In an effort to deal with the issue of raw material variability we have developed the use of porcelain precores in experimental knapping projects as a consistent and controllable raw material. Fired porcelain has comparable flaking capacities to flint or chert and, if made in a mould, the same shape and size of core can be produced repeatedly. Furthermore, the use of porcelain ensures that there will be no inconsistencies in the cores, which can be a problem with natural stone cores. The use of prefabricated precores allows direct comparisons of skill to be made between individuals. By eliminating raw material variability this method enables more secure and defendable results in relation to skill in experimental knapping projects. If we can better document modern skill acquisition, we should be able to better understand attainment of skill in archaeological flaked stone assemblages.
Experimental Archaeology in the OpenArch project
Leena Lehtinen, Miska Sliden, Kierikki Stone Age Centre (FI)
OpenArch is a Culture project funded by the European Commission and will be running from January 2011 to December 2015. The project partners are all members of EXARC, an ICOM Affiliated Organisation representing archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology. In OpenArch project, we are joining forces of 8-10 museums and EXARC itself to create a permanent partnership of archaeological open air museums throughout Europe. At this moment, OpenArch counts 9 partners: C.I. De Calafell (Catalonia, Spain, coordinator), EXARC, Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf (Germany), Archeon and Hunebedcentrum (Netherlands), Fotevikens Museum (Sweden), Kierikki Stone Age Centre (Finland), Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (Wales) and Parco Archeologico e Museo all’aperto della Terramara di Montale (Italy). We are currently searching for one or two new partners since two museums already committed to the project had to retract.
Our aim is to develop attractive and excellent experiences for the public, focusing on common European heritage, especially the intangible elements of past culture, and including European-wide exchanges of best practice and intensified co-operation between museums workers. The ultimate goal is to help museums and their broader network to become more professional, and to demonstrate the value of working on a European level for the benefit of the visitor experience. Our methods for achieving the goals are: workshops and seminars, staff exchanges and experimental actions. We have divided the tasks of the project into 7 Work Packages, of which the most important are 3) Dialogue with the visitors, 4) Dialogue with skills and 5) Dialogue with science.
What we will present at the conference is Work Package 5 – the dialogue with science, which Kierikki is coordinating. It will focus on experimental archaeology and how larger-scale experiments can contribute to make the visitor experience at archaeological open air museums even better – how to bring quality and get one step up in experimental archaeology.
Archaeological remains and objects need to be interpreted to give meaning today, and interpretation is dependent on experiments. Experiments are needed to understand how objects were made, how constructions can have looked like and not the least, how people in the past behaved and acted. So, large trans-national experiments are important in this Work Package. They will be defined in cooperation with experimental archaeology experts and universities, so that the experiments of this project add value and are not just replications of previous experiments. The experimental actions will, however, be limited to those that have an immediate result on the visitor experience, or that can be used as visitor attractions by themselves. All the partner museums will conduct experimental actions during the project. Our plan includes, for example, life experiments in Stone Age settings, reconstruction works and object replicating processes.
The Neolithic stone bracelets in the south of the Iberian Peninsula: experimentation on their manufacturing technology
Francisco Martínez-Sevilla, Dpto. Prehistoria y Arqueología. Universidad de Granada (ES)
Among the wide variety of elements of personal adornment which characterise the Neolithic in the south of the Iberian Peninsula, bracelets stand out because of their high degree of processing and the difficulty entailed in their production. Among the different stone bracelets present in the Neolithic, two types should be distinguished: wide bracelets and thin bracelets. Wide bracelets have a plano-convex section and are made out with materials such as marble, limestone and dolomites. On the other hand, thin bracelets have a flat section, and are mostly developed on slate, schist, mica shist and to a lesser extent, on limestone.
Research about the manufacturing technology of this adornment have been based only on the interpretation of the archaeological record. However, we propose an experimental protocol adapted to the specific archaeological problem. The method proposed is used to contrast certain hypotheses through the application of this experimental protocol. Taking into account that the interpretation of the archaeological record should depart from the first level of analysis, the experimental protocol is used to resolve problems which have come about because of the interpretation of the archaeological record. Our work has focused primarily on the study of the archaeological record which identifies the production of stone bracelets and the comparison with an experimental reproduction of the process.
In short, this paper presents the results of several experiments which have concluded with three main outcomes: the identification of working techniques, the reconstruction of the manufacturing sequences of stone bracelets, and the presence of skilled craftsmen.
Experimentation on the lithic technology of ophites rocks. The manufacture of axes heads in the South of the Iberian Peninsula
Antonio Morgado, Francsico Martínez-Sevilla, Dpto. Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad de Granada (ES), José Antonio Lozano, Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra, CSIC-Universidad de Granada (ES)
Geographically speaking, in the majority of the European continent, axe heads from late prehistory had flint as the raw material. However those found in the south of the Iberian Peninsula were made out with tenacious rocks (metamorphic and igneous). The raw material by which they were elaborated is important because it conditions their technical process. These rocks present an anisotropic fracture because of their holocrystaline and heterogranular structure. Places of exploitation related to the supply and elaboration of axe heads have not been recognized to date. One of the reasons for this is the absence of experimental references about the knapping of the rocks, particularly ophitic rocks.
This paper gives one of the first archaeological examples of the elaboration of axe heads in the South of the Iberian Peninsula. The Sierra Martilla site is located in the eastern sector of Trías de Antequera (Málaga-Granada, Spain) and is dated from the
Neolithic and Copper Age (V-III mil. cal. BC). At this site subvolcanic rocks (ophitic rocks) are exploited with evidence of knapping destritus in different levels of transformation.
Departing from the archaeological record, an experimental approximation has been designed with two objectives. The first aim is the recognition of the knapping stigmata of these rocks with an ophitic texture. This experimental reference has established the first technological distinction which enables us to distinguish between the knapping techniques used and the nature of the knapping tools. The second objective is to understand the different products of the knapping technique through the creation of an experimental method of the chaine operative of the elaboration of preforms of axes.
Overall, this paper establishes for the first time in the south of the Iberian Peninsula an archaeological and experimental analysis about the elaboration of axe heads with ophitic rocks as their raw material. This experimental technical process develops an understanding of the extraction technique of the raw material, the creation of supports for the axes, the façonnage of the axes, and their completion thanks to the polished.
Experimentation about building and burning a haystack at the AREA of l’Esquerda (Roda de Ter, Catalonia)
Imma Ollich, Montserrat de Rocafiguera, Maria Ocaña, Museu Arqueològic de l’Esquerda, Universitat de Barcelona (ES)
Haystacks are organic and perishable structures are part of any cereal agrarian landscape, even though mechanisation has made them disappear from our fields. Inside the experimental archaeology project developed in the area of l’Esquerda since 1990, some of these structures have been built with a double purpose. Firstly, as a necessary part of the agrarian storage project.
Secondly, to recognise the evidence of these structures in the archaeological soil. Two haystacks, one made with hay and the other with straw, have been abandoned and the degradation process has been under control. A third has been burnt in order to study the combustion process and the archaeological evidence remaining in the soil. We present the three steps of our experimentation: building a haystack in the ancient way (June 2010), burning it (February 2011), and then excavating the remains (November 2011). We have controlled the processes at every stage, and the data we will obtain from the burned soil will be contrasted with the archaeological data from the mediaeval site of l’Esquerda.
The shield in ancient Egypt: an experiment on the construction, functionality and performance of Middle Kingdom rawhide shields
William Stonborough, Department of Archaeology, University of York (UK)
See paper abstract
Nabataean farmhouse and reservoir
Maria-Louise Sidoroff (USA)
Bushcraft and Aboriginal skills
Ruth Watson, University of Bradford (UK)
The growth of interest in Bushcraft and Aboriginal skills as popularised by television personalities such as Ray Mears and Les Stroud (survivor man) has resulted in a number of commercial providers developing courses in primitive technologies such as bark work, flint knapping and bone, hide and antler work. This poster critically analyses one such offering and asks the question can a modern interpretation of skills common in the archaeological record help current archaeology students better understand artefacts and their production?