Updated: November 1, 2020
Paper 1: Wood Ash, Olla & Egg: Chemistry Between Pottery and Science
Igor Bahor and Milko Novič
Pottery Center Bahor (SL)
Roman potters are known as producers of exceptional pottery creations, of which their terra sigillata undoubtedly stands out. Their work is particularly remarkable given the fact that they did not know modern deflocculants, nor modern viscosity and density meters. What they had at their disposal were high-iron clay, wood ash (due to the burning of pottery kilns), and simple systems for concentrating the fine fraction of clay and simple density meters. It is known from the literature that wood ash can serve as a base for glazes, as it contains potassium carbonate, which acts as a temperature lowering agent for surface vitrification. The technique of glossing ceramics with ash has been known to the Chinese since about 1500 years B.C. It is also evident from the literature that the top layer of terra sigillata on Roman vessels is vitrified to a thickness of about 30 µm and that the vitrified layer is enriched in potassium. Based on these facts, we decided to study the potential benefits of adding wood ash to the clays in order to achieve the appropriate clay segregation and later to enable surface vitrification of a ceramic pot coated with terra sigillata produced in the above mentioned way. The concentration of the diluted fraction of fine clay particles we achieved by removing removing in a ceramic pot (biscuit fired, uncoated), where water seeps through the wall and evaporates, while terra sigillata concentrates in the interior. The density of the concentrated fraction was checked "by touch" (silky feeling), and by the "floating egg" method. Namely, at a certain terra sigillata concentration, raw egg begins to float on the surface. In the present paper optimization of the proposed terra sigillata production process and its application will be presented.
Paper 2: Different tension, same cloth? Investigating the impact of different loom weight masses on warp-weighted loom produced cloth
University of Leicester (UK)
Experimental archaeology can sometimes turn up unexpected results. On occasion, the result of an experiment calls into question long-held beliefs about craft technology. As an experimenter, this type of result can cause discord since the assumptions we operate with are usually qualified, either through previous experimental work or through ethnographic study. Nevertheless, when a good assumption is questioned, it can be disarming. In textile studies relating to warp-weighted loom technology, there has been a repeated basic mantra: loomweights of approximately equal mass and thickness would be suitable as a ‘set’. The experimental program conducted at the Center for Textile Research in Copenhagen has demonstrated the importance of consistent mass and thickness among loomweights and have made a substantial, evidential case for upholding this assumption. However, in a recent experiment I conducted exploring the differences of similarly made British Iron Age loomweights from two different regions that had different masses, I was surprised by my results. For this experiment, archaeological loomweight samples were used to create testable proxies from two different geographical regions in the UK, Danebury hillfort, Hampshire, and Burrough Hill hillfort, Leicester. Linen and wool yarns were used in weaving experiments to understand the technical differences in similarly-shaped loomweights, with masses differing by 600g. Contrary to what was hypothesized, they produced strikingly similar fabrics, prompting the question of whether a large disparity in warp tension visibly impacts the cloth as has been assumed. The results of this experiment are presented and contextualized for the regions in the study to offer a new perspective on the utility of typologies, and to offer a new direction in archaeological textile experimentation. Experimenting with textiles has encouraged a reprisal of an important assumption.
Paper 3: Arctic Iron Smelting in northernmost Sweden – an Experimental Approach
Carina Bennerhag1, 2, Jannica Grimbe1 and Daryoush Tahmasebi1
1 Norrbottens museum (SE)
2 Luleå University of Technology (SE)
Current archaeological research in Arctic Sweden has provided substantial evidence that iron technology was an integrated part of the hunter-gatherer subsistence already during the Early Iron Age (ca 200 BC). Archaeometallurgical analyses show evidence of advanced technological know-how in all the operational sequences of iron technology, including bloomery steel production and the mastering of advanced smithing techniques. In this paper we present recent results from the inter-disciplinary research project Iron in the North coordinated by the County Museum of Northern Sweden (Norrbottens museum) and Luleå University of Technology. The project aims to create a broader understanding of the emergence of early iron technology in the prehistoric Arctic through the integration of experimental and public archaeology into archaeological and archaeometallurgical research. As part of the project, we conducted an iron smelting experiment based on the reconstruction of a 2000-year-old iron production site located close to the Arctic Circle in northernmost Sweden. The experiment was carried out as a public event near the excavated iron production site, in close cooperation with the local community. The active participation of the local community provided valuable knowledge of the range of raw materials that was available in the nearby surroundings, and which, furthermore, was used in the smelting experiment. Results shed new light on the technological processes and skills of ancient smelters, as well as resource management and utilization of the landscape.
Paper 4: Get Scrumpy with it: Experimental Archaeology of the Crabapple and Anglo-Saxon Libation
Jessi Berndt (UK)
Cider, as a beverage, may seem innocuous. However, such a simple drink has had an impact on religious practices, politics, economics, trade, laws, medicine, burial practices, feasting rituals, socialization, and agricultural science. The study of cider in history and prehistory could lend new light to many subjects. However, it has been largely overlooked in archaeology as a subject of study. This presentation will discuss one of two experiments that were designed as an initiative to combat the lack of research on cider in archaeology. The particular experimentation to be highlighted here tackles the controversy over the interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon beverage known as beor. The primary question focuses on whether or not it is possible for the Anglo-Saxons to have had cider prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066. To do this, the characteristics of beor are identified through interdisciplinary research. This information was then used to design, execute, and analyze the results of an experiment to test a possible cider production methodology that would have been available to the Anglo-Saxons which would yield an end product that fit all the characteristics of beor. Several potential future projects of cider research in experimental archaeology will be outlined, with a brief look at the difficulties associated with research of cider production and consumption in archaeology, and how experimental archaeology may be used to combat these difficulties.
Paper 5:Surface treatment in prehistoric pottery: an analytical approach through experimentation
Sara Díaz Bonilla1, Ignacio Clemente Conte2, Xavier Clop García1, Niccolò Mazzucco2 and Ariadna Benavides Ribes3
1 Departament de Prehistòria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ES)
2 Departament d'Arqueologia, Institució Milà i Fontanals, Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (ES)
3 Free researcher, Escola d'Art i Disseny, Rubí (ES)
The surface treatment of handmade pottery is often described in ceramological studies of prehistoric collections, but it haas rarely been approached from a global and experimental perspective. We propose an experimental program about surface treatment on pottery and toolkit used, where the main variable being explored was the category of tool involved in the fabrication of prehistoric handmade pottery. Therefore, we start from the hypothesis that different tools generate differentiable traces. A catalogue of traces generated by several pottery tools (pebble, flint spatula, pottery spatula, shell spatula, linen rag, grass, leather, etc.) was created, with the aim of characterizing and systematizing them. From the experimental program it is also possible to analyze the differences of traces according to the drying state of the material, together with the working time invested. The resulting macroscopic analysis allowed a first qualitative classification of the traces. Microscopic analysis by confocal microscopy then confirmed the classification with quantitative data. The potential of the proposed methodology for traceological and textural analysis of surface treatment in ceramics is highlighted. The possibility of discriminating different surface treatment techniques opens new perspectives for the study of prehistoric pottery.
Paper 6: Weaving in the 3rd Millennium BC: the Loom Plates from Vila Nova de São Pedro (Azambuja, Portugal)
Pedro Cura1, Andrea Martins2, 3, 4, César Neves3, 4 and Joana Carrondo1
1 Prehistoric Skills (PT)
2 FCT (PT)
3 UNIARQ (PT)
4 AAP (PT)
As part of the VNSP3000 project - “Vila Nova de São Pedro, again, in the 3rd millennium”, an Experimental Archeology program has been developed in which the weaving theme clearly stands out. Vila Nova de São Pedro (VNSP) is a fortified Chalcolithic settlement (c. 3000-2000 BC) located in Western Iberia (Lisbon region), which was excavated three decades ago and where thousands of archaeological artefacts have been collected. Among these artefacts, we highlight the iconic VNSP pottery loom plates - objects with a rectangular or square shape and four perforations. In addition to the morphological specificity of the large collection (more than 500 elements), the majority have schematic motifs engraved on one or both sides of the artifact. Apart of these loom elements, several flax seeds were also identified, revealing that VNSP was a place during the Chalcolithic where weaving would have had a very important role. From the functional point of view, the presence of four perforations may indicate that they had a plate function arranged on a horizontal loom. The experimental archeology program started from this premise, using the four perforations for the crossing of the flax. Then, a horizontal loom was created where, depending on the movement of the plates, strips of different dimensions and patterns were produced. With this video presentation, we intend to show an unprecedented demonstration of the horizontal loom with VNSP plates replicas, proposing a hypothesis for its functionality. We also suggest that the iconography motifs present on these elements had specific functions, namely in the mnemonic of the weaving action and in the very representation of the woven pattern.
Paper 7: Experiments in Roman Minting
University of Liverpool (UK)
No flan moulds associated with official Roman mints have been found in the archaeological record. As a result, there is much debate surrounding Roman minting technologies. The experiments tested the suitability of a different mould materials (clay, limestone, bronze) for casting debased Roman silver coinage, typical of the third century. Silver-copper blanks with varying elemental compositions were cast in closed moulds to see what effect debasement has on casting. Previous investigations have failed to cast relatively small objects such as blanks directly into the mould. However, the current investigation proved successful in producing silver-copper blanks across the full range of compositions. Of particular note was the success of the bronze mould. The use of bronze moulds in antiquity could explain the lack of finds related to Roman coin minting, since any metal moulds would be melted down for their raw materials. The proposed video will include a PowerPoint presentation on the experiments in Roman minting carried out as part of my PhD thesis. In addition, the video will include footage of the actual casting experiments.
Paper 8: Long term experiment “Middle Bronze Age Tumulus” at MAMUZ Asparn, Lower Austria
Karina Grömer1, Franz Pieler2, Michaela Fritzl3 and Michael Konrad4
1Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien (AT)
2 MAMUZ (AT)
3 Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (AT)
4 Universität Wien (AT)
In 2018 and 2019 we carried out a series of experiments for cremating bodies (of pigs) on a stake in the archaeological park of MAMUZ Asparn, Lower Austria. In 2020 we started a long term experiment, both in continuation of the 2018 and 2019 experiments, and to widen the scope to gain additional data for the preservation of cremated and uncremated textiles and organic materials under conditions of a burial. We are currently rebuilding tumulus No. 26 from the Middle Bronze Age Cemetery of Pitten, Lower Austria. In the first chamber, we plan to place the salvaged and since thoroughly documented cremated remains from the 2018 and 2019 pyres. In the second chamber, we will place an uncremated body, with full dress and bronze applications and tools. The main focus is on studying the effects that bronze corrosion has on organic material and textiles. Of special interest is the genesis of “skin imprints” on bronze surfaces, as occasionally observed on original finds. How precise a picture does that phenomenon provide of the body surface? Does body paint or tattooing show? Is skin tissue discernable from leather surfaces? How well do textile or wooden structures show? Does bronze corrosion have any effect on the preservation of hair fibres? The mound will remain under surveillance for at least 20 – 25 years, to await excavation. All items used will be subjected to meticulous documentation. Analysis by a range of scientific methods will accompany each item throughout the course of the project, which will end only after the excavation in some 25 years.
Paper 9: Roman and Early Medieval Mosaic Beads and Millefiori Canes – the hot Glass Techniques of Manufacture
Sue Heaser (UK)
Mosaic beads from the Middle East from the first millennium AD are found in excavations across Europe to Scandinavia and the British Isles. They first appear in Roman times and various forms continue through to the 9th and 10th centuries. These beautiful and distinctive beads are usually inset with intricate millefiori canes slices of geometric, floral and face motifs.
Speculation on the manufacture of these beads in existing literature shows a lack of understanding of the working of hot glass and I have been using my skills in hot glass bead making to investigate the techniques used to make these beads. I have experimented with re-creating the ancient millefiori canes, testing different methods and coming to some unexpected conclusions. I use a simple low temperature gas blow torch to simulate ancient heat sources such as a small, single beadmaker furnace or open hearth and I use replica tools so I can understand how the ancient makers worked.
My presentation will include illustrations and videos showing the stages of manufacture of millefiori canes of bullseyes, flowers, and leaf motifs and their use in beads. My research has shown that specific millefiori canes can be traced throughout the region of study. Some are likely to be from the same workshop or bead maker which gives exciting possibilities for identifying travel and trade connections. I will show photographs of ancient mosaic beads from collections in museums in Britain and Europe and demonstrate how the trail of a single cane motif can be followed throughout Europe.
Paper 10: Medieval Agriculture in Experiment
Lauresham Open-Air Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology (DE)
The Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology has a special research interest in exploring different approaches to learn about medieval agriculture. Various long term experiments on site are focusing on crops, subsistence strategies, field systems, and draft animals, but also on manuring and agricultural implements. All these questions are not only valuable in order to gain more knowledge about our agricultural past, but also to address some of the challenges we face in a 21st century context. This paper gives a brief overview into the project, and on its potential and possible future perspectives. With other projects on site focusing on house-structures or indoor-climate for example, and through ongoing cooperation (e.g. EXARC Twinning with UCD Dublin) we also could - if suitable - think about acting as hotspot during that World Tour. Nevertheless, primarily I would find it important to at least present our agricultural project to a wider audience.
Paper 11: Why Recycle Glass? The Answer is Clear?: Experimental Glass Recycling using a Wood-fired Glassworking Furnace
Newcastle University (UK)
The life histories of glass artefacts are complex, the inherent transmutable nature of glass lending itself to recycling and to distinct objects returning to a common ‘pool’ of glass numerous times to be reformed. The chemical composition of glass reflects this; containing not just the life history of the object itself but allowing access to a tapestry of past glassworkers technological and decision-making practices that form part of a deeper biography. Therefore, greater understanding of the effects of repeated recycling on glass is vital.
Reliance on anecdotal information from modern glassworkers – working with electric and gas fired furnaces; with highly oxidising atmospheres and stable, high temperatures – has led to the widespread assumption that glass can only be recycled a very limited number of times before it becomes unworkable due to loss of flux. However, an accurate picture of recycling in antiquity cannot be obtained without taking into account the impact of the use of a wood fire on the furnace environment and temperature regulation; and their effects upon the chemical composition and working properties of glass. This paper will present the first experimental work to test assumptions about how we can recognize past glass recycling, and the effects of repeated recycling on glass, using period appropriate fuel and furnace structure. The work adopts an approach combining experimental archaeology, chemical analysis, and expert craftsperson knowledge; to produce a picture of recycling that will deepen understanding of the links between craftsperson experience, chemical composition, technological practice, and object biography.
Paper 12: Ancient Beverage in the Iron Age: Experiments, Prospect of Results and Future Challenges
Centro de Investigação Transdisciplinar «Cultura, Espaço e Memória» Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto (PT)
APS Popolo di Brig (IT)
Gruppo di Ricerche Archeo-storiche del Lambro (IT)
The “Beer Brig project”, promoted by the APS Popolo di Brig (Vimercate, Italy), has since 2008 gathered archaeologists, historians, homebrewers, and simply beer lovers. Besides ancient beer, for over 10 years since we started, we have focused on the study and the production of mead, grog, and spiced wine too.
The aim of this paper is:
1) to briefly present the research, the experiments, and the (first) results of our work;
2) to show how we integrated them in our educational activities at living history events, together with our proposal on ancient food.
In particular, in this presentation, we will focus on our experiments to produce the so-called “Pombia Beer”, a fermented beverage that dates back to the 6th century B.C. Starting from the pollen analysis of the residue encountered in a ceramic beaker – information provided with the results of the 1995 excavation of the Iron Age necropolis of Pombia (Piemonte, Italy) – we developed the brewing process from germination up to tasting the results. This specific project represented our main goal for almost three years.
Finally, we will present what we are planning for the future, with the hope of finding new partners among EXARC members.
Paper 13: Palaeolithic Torches in Caves: experimental Replications based in archaeological Data
Mª Ángeles Medina-Alcaide1, Diego Garate2, Iñaki Intxaurbe3, José L. Sanchidrián1, Olivia Rivero4, Catherine Ferrier5, Jaime Pereña6 and Iñaki Líbano7
1 Department of History, HUM-781, University of Córdoba (UCO) (ES)
2 International Institute for Prehistoric Research of Cantabria (IIIPC), University of Cantabria (ES)
3 Department of Mineralogy and Petrology, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) (ES)
4 Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Salamanca (USAL) (ES)
5 UMR 5199, PACEA, University of Bordeaux (FR)
6 Research Institute Nerja Cave (IICN) (ES)
7 Edestiaurre Arkeologia Elkartea (ES)
The study about Palaeolithic lighting systems has been mainly directed towards a single type of luminous resource: stone lamps lit with animal fat. Palaeolithic torches have been scarcely analysed in the precedent literature despite their importance for transit through the underground environment. In this oral communication, we are going to present the archaeological data available for the Palaeolithic period about this lighting tool, numeric information about its physical characteristics (illuminance, duration, luminous intensity, action radius, luminance, and colour temperature) based in a set of experimental replications in endokarstic context, as well as relevant information about its operation and residues of use. Finally, we will illustrate the presentation with an experimental replication where the principal features of this lighting tool can be observed. This work is inserted in B-Art project (PID2019-107262GB-I00), principal investigator D. Garate, funded by Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (Spain).
Paper 14: The Uses of Experimental Archaeology to track cultural Changes and Persistence in Hunter-Gatherer Groups from Southern Brazil during the Holocene
João Carlos Moreno de Sousa1, Gabriela S. Mingatos1,2 and Mercedes Okumura1
1 Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies (LEEH), Institute of Biosciences, University of São Paulo (IB-USP)(BR)
2 PPGArq, National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (MN-UFRJ)(BR)
Studies using experimental archaeology in order to further understand the cultural evolution of prehistoric human societies in Brazil have been scarce, especially on lithic and bone tools. Our laboratory has been interested in investigating the changes through time in archaeological cultures from Southern Brazil during the Holocene, with a focus on early hunter-gatherer populations. We are aiming to understand the role of cultural transmission, population parameters, environmental changes in the evolution of artifacts, as well as landscape occupation of these hunter-gatherer groups. In order to do that, we have combined two complementary theoretical approaches, Evolutionary Archaeology and Cultural Transmission Theory with Experimental Archaeology in order to unravel patterns and rates of change in Paleoamerican sites or groups of sites. Our experimental studies focus on the raw material sources of lithic and bone artifacts, as well as on the chaîne opératoire related to the manufacture, use, and discard of such tools. The experimental data can be analyzed in combination with the results obtained from morphometric and technological analysis of the archaeological materials, showing that a greater knowledge can be obtained when actualist studies are incorporated in the analysis of lithic and bone artifact making and use in the past. As a case study we will present the analysis carried out in two archaeological sites in southern Brazil: the Garivaldino site, dated between 12.000 and 4500 BP; and the Tunas site dated between 11.000 and 7700 BP. The sites present distinct lithic and bone industries.
Paper 15: Experimental Archaeology and Investigating the Life, Death and Afterlife of Wooden Anthropomorphic Figures in Prehistoric Europe and Beyond
Aidan O’Sullivan1, Brendan O’Neill1, Ben Gearey2, Caitríona Moore3, Mark Griffiths4, Michael Stanley5, Orla Peach-Power3, Brian Mac Domhnaill6 and Billy Mag Fhloinn7, 8
1 CEAMC, University College Dublin (IE)
2 University College Cork (IE)
3 Independent Archaeologist (IE)
4 University of Brighton (UK)
5 Transport Infrastructure Ireland (IE)
6 Cork (IE)
7 University of Limerick (IE)
8 Umha Aois (IE)
Wooden anthropomorphic figures have been recovered from the peatlands of northern Europe since the beginnings of archaeology as a discipline. They were probably highly symbolic and their deposition in peatlands often seems to mirror the treatment of real human bodies, i.e. bog bodies. There are now at least 12 such wooden figures from Ireland. An experimental archaeological, artistic and performative project has led to archaeologists, artists and other scholars based at University College Cork’s Pallasboy Project exploring these figures. This has included collaboration with University College Dublin’s archaeologists through the carving of wooden figures of alder-wood, using hafted bronze axes, and their erection at University College Dublin’s Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (CEAMC), and others placed in a woodlands of west Cork, where they all have stood for the last 3.5 years. These tests have investigated aspects of the life, death and afterlife of such wooden figures, in particular addressing these questions: Were these figures deliberately made to be put into a bog straight away? Did they stand inside a Bronze Age house, as "household gods” before their burial? Did they stand for a time in the Bronze Age landscape, before upon their “death” being buried in a bog? This continuing experimental archaeology project explores a specific and tricky aspect of past material culture: what was the impact of short periods of time, on things?
Paper 16: Approaching Technological Properties of Tempering Materials of Early Neolithic Ceramics
Department of Prehistory, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ES)
This study investigates the role of organic temper to make ceramic vessels in early Neolithic LBK (ca. 5500-4500 cal. BC). According to the archaeological record, a socioeconomic change occurred throughout this period. While organic materials (e.g. bone, plant chaff, dung) were the primary materials in the earliest phase, they were eventually supplanted by ceramic additives and quartz inclusions in later periods. To explore the potential reasons for this change, the present study investigates the technological properties of ceramic vessels from an experimental approach combined with relevant engineering tests (e.g. the Vickers hardness test, three-point bending test). Significant results were obtained concerning the mechanical and physical behaviour of different tempering recipes of early Neolithic potsherds and new insights into their production process. Whereas bone, quartz and grog showed a similar technological performance characterised by low porosity and high fracture strength, dung and chaff were more brittle. These performance traits suggest that potters increasingly produced more resistant and more suitable vessels for cooking purposes throughout the LBK culture. Regarding the methodology, results from this study evidence that both firing methods, the kiln and the electric furnace, are equally suitable for conducting experimental tests. Finally, this study answers some questions regarding the technological properties of tempering options in the LBK but also exposes many others relevant for future research.
Paper 17: Understanding Ancient Greek Textile Production and the Domestic Economy through Experimental Archaeology
Richard Joseph Palmer
UNC Asheville (US)
This paper outlines the experimental weaving project of an ancient Greek chlamys to investigate the weaving production capacity of a typical household and reconstruct women’s contribution to household GDP in ancient Greece. While some scholars have researched finer textiles and techniques based on visual evidence, very little is known about the skills and time needed for the production of the most basic clothing form (the chlamys) produced in an ancient Greek domestic setting. The experiment, which involved the creation of a single heddle warp weighted loom based on archaeological and iconographic evidence, found that a team of three weavers could spin and weave this common use textile in roughly three to four weeks. Cutting extra long warp threads made this process easier, as multiple garments can be made with one warp and then separated once they have been taken off the loom. Based on these results, it is possible to calculate the amount of money that an average household could earn in a calendar year. The author estimated that a family could sell enough textiles to make about 60-140 drachmae a year, while still keeping some textiles for their own use. As an experimental archaeology project, this research sheds light on aspects of Greek household economics, the contribution of women’s household labor, and craft production skills within the domestic context.
Paper 18: Warping the Diamonds – a Viking Age way of warping broken lozenge Twill on a Warp-Weighted Loom
Caroline Persson (SE)
There are several ways of warping a warp-weighted loom, but due to the scarcity of textile finds, it is difficult to know how the set-up of the warp was made in the Viking Age.
One published photograph of a diamond or broken lozenge twill find from Birka (Viking Age, Sweden) had a preserved warp set-up edge, which didn’t look like the edges we got with our usual warping methods for the warp-weighted loom. Since we had the photo to go by, our aim was to 1) recreate the set-up edge 2) see if it was possible to weave a broken lozenge twill with our set-up.
The technique we found to resemble the find from Birka the most is a looped edge with a “double tabby” set-up. This worked well together with a technique for 2/2-twills (called the Icelandic technique at the Bäckedal course). It also worked for the broken lozenge twill, which makes this a plausible way for at least one Iron Age weaver (the one who wove the find) to have set up their weave.
To finish up, I’d like to encourage people to make experiments even on a smaller scale. With photographs and practical craft trials, you can still further our understanding and come closer to the craftspeople of the past!
Affiliation: This experiment was performed as a project at a course on Bäckedal Folkhögskola, but not as a project initiated by the school. However, it would not have been possible without the discussions and help by Ellinor Sydberg and Sofie Durling.
Paper 19: Re-constructions, 3D Models and Soundscapes at Jarrow Hall
Marco Romeo-Pitone1, Gianluca Foschi2 and Rebecca Romeo-Pitone3
1 Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum, EXARN (Experimental Archaeology Newcastle University) (UK)
2 McCord Centre for Landscape, Newcastle University (UK)
3 Apex Acoustics Ltd
At Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum we have been carrying out structural assessments, recording the current conditions of the timber buildings built back in the 1990s, and planning minor and major conservation interventions. The task has been complicated by the lack of any previous dedicated documentation. It was decided to produce a 3D scan of two re-constructed buildings: “Building A” and the “Grandstand” from the early medieval sites of Thirlings and Yeavering (Northumberland – UK). This allowed us to obtain accurate plans and orthogonal projections of each internal and external wall, and facilitated the creation of appropriate forms for data collection in future assessment and planning activities. The 3D scan offered the opportunity to carry out a new experiment aimed to retrieve not only the visual, but also the oral experience of Anglo-Saxon domestic and public spaces. The re-constructions have been surveyed with a Laser Scanner and the obtained digital models have been compared to the original archaeological data. Digital acoustic simulations have been performed on the models using the ODEON Room Acoustics software and calibrating their sound parameters according to binaural recordings made on-site at Jarrow Hall. The project explored different aspects relating to these buildings such as the behaviour of light in “Building A”, and its sound properties taking into consideration different wall-materials, or the acoustics of the “Grandstand”, examining the digital model built on the excavator’s drawings. The outcomes of this project provide new data to the study of Anglo-Saxon timber buildings, opening new interpretation pathways, implementing digital modelling with soundscape studies in experimental archaeology.
Paper 20: Bronze arrowheads versus the Iron Gate - Testing Early Scythian Archery Gear used in an Ancient Siege
Gábor V. Szabó1 and the Hungarian Historical Archery Society2
1 Eötvös Lóránd University, Department Archaeology of Prehistoric and Early Times (HU)
One of north-eastern Hungary’s most extensive prehistoric archaeological sites, a fortified settlement on the hilltop of Dédestapolcsány-Verebce-bérc in the Bükk Mountains enchanted several generations of archaeologists. As the most surprising result of the past researches, 234 characteristic early Scythian period (9th–8th century B.C.) bronze arrowheads were found at the so-called "Iron Gate" fortification that protects the settlement from the south. The concentration of the arrowheads clearly indicates that the settlement was attacked. A tower or bastion may have stood on the rampart here and the task of the archers was to capture this or keep the defenders occupied. A significant portion of the arrowheads were damaged or broken, indicating that they struck a hard surface - constructed of wood or from a combined wood/stone technique - with great force. They may have bounced off this or stuck into it, and as the structure fell into ruin, erosion brought them down to the slope below the ramparts and into the ditch. In our experiment we tested replicas of the excavated arrowheads shot with composite Scythian bows on targets representing the possible wooden/stone fortification structure. We compared the damaged replicas with the archaeological finds and examined them using archaeometrical methods to shed light on the circumstances of the early Iron Age siege.
Paper 21: KERMA, Metal Plates produced in a Unique Furnace
Georges Verly1, Frederik W. Rademakers2, Séverine Marchi3, Charles Bonnet4, François Peyrat5 and Florian Téreygeol6
1 Sorbonne university (FR)
2 KU Leuven, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BE)
3 La Mission archéologique Kerma-Doukki Gel - CNRS, UMR 8167 (Orient & Méditerranée), équipe Mondes Pharaoniques (FR)
4 La Mission archéologique Kerma-Doukki Gel - Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres (FR)
5 Peyrat Terre (FR)
6 CNRS UMR 5060 IRAMAT (FR), Melle (FR)
Kerma is a key site in ancient Sudan. Its material culture reflects these influences but also represents strong local traditions. During the Middle Kerma period (20th century BC), a metal workshop was built in the middle of the religious quarter. Based on the knowledge gained from numerous experimental archaeological research activities carried out prior to the 2018 excavation campaign, new archaeological features discovered and pXRF analyses carried out in situ, a completely new interpretation of this furnace is now proposed. Its operation in bronze production offers exciting new perspectives on the technological know-how existing in the region. It is the first antique example of an integrated structure functioning as a mould for the production of very large metal plates.
In 2019, a scale model of the Kerma furnace was built at the Experimental Archaeology Centre in Melle. In 2020, a series of heating experiments were carried out using different sections of wood in order to be able to draw a flame underneath the structure. This flame raised the mould to 400°C. Under these conditions, it has been possible to produce partial metal plates without bubbles, as thin as possible and without any welding. We thank the Fondation Michela Schiff-Giorgini for funding this research.
Poster 1: An Experimental Program to discuss Ancient Technologies Categories: a Micro-wear Analysis for Lithic Gouges, Chisels and cold Chisels
Camila Brizuela and Roxana Cattáneo
Instituto de Antropología de Córdoba (CONICET/UNC) and Departamento de Antropología, Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades (AR)
Gouges, chisels and cold chisels: these three typological groups were recently introduced by Carlos Aschero (creator of the morphologically-based typological classification used by the archaeological community of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay). Aschero noted the presence in archaeological sites of diverse chronology of instruments with edges that resembled those used in modern carpentry and for which only the brush/wood polisher category existed in their classification. The primary function defined for these instruments would be roughing, to which is added cutting in the case of chisels, with the expectations of working on wood and bone, among other materials. Later, this author, together with the archaeologist S. Hocsman, discussed aspects related to the primary functions and the modes of action in relation to the gestures of use of each one. However, the creation of new typological categories implies not only a macro- but also a microscopic characterization that allows to establish differences with other types of instruments. For this reason, we developed an experimental program to apply microscopic-based functional analysis to a set of these three types of instruments in order to discuss our analytical categories along with advances and paradigm shifts in the study of lithic material. The sample under study consists of 96 experimental lithic instruments, made from two different raw materials, quartz and vulcanite. A video of the flintknapping experiments by the Profs. Aschero and Hocsman, the actions of use of the same during the experiments, and the first results of the traceological analysis are going to be presented and the categories discussed.
Poster 2: Mock-ups in the Virtual Era: An Outdated Mean of Communication?
Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology (NL)
3D reconstructions, projections, and virtual reality simulations are more and more employed in exhibitions and museums that aim at improving their communicative media to become more appealing for younger generations and new publics. If, on one hand, new technologies are widening the museum “communication toolbox”, on the other, their use should not make us forget the existence of other “traditional” means of communication that still hold a great potential. This is the case that mock-ups figure in an exhibition due to their big size. Whilst mock-ups were extremely popular during the 19th century, instead today, they are often considered outdated and non-interactive. On the contrary, this article discusses how mock-ups still bear an interesting potential for both research and communicative purposes. The following article relies on the author’s observation during his experience as a mock-up-maker during the organisation of the exhibition Sweet Teeth. The Journey of Sugar from East to West, hosted at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (RMO) from November 2020 until April 2021. In this context, the author realised a scale replica of a Noria (a medieval Islamic water lifter). This research starts by describing how the Noria mock-up-making process has clarified some of the aspects of this ancient technology. Indeed, the process shed light on some technical features of the device, which had only been partially observed by the anthropological and archaeological record. Afterwards, the impact of the mock-up at the RMO exhibition will be discussed. Here, the public of the exhibition has been asked to fill in a questionnaire and take a short test to better understand the role played by the Noria mock-up in displaying this ancient technology.
Poster 3: Hot-Stone Technology, Alternative Transformation and The Clonbrin Shield
Plymouth University (UK)
There are numerous ways in which skin can be processed and transformed into a useful material. This material can be further manipulated into objects, which become the artefacts we study. One such skin-based artefact is the Clonbrin shield, recovered in Ireland in 1909. Many may be familiar with discussion and experimentation around burnt-mound technology, it has been employed to heat water for cooking, washing fleece, cleaning hides, or creating steam in sweat lodges. Previously hot-rock technology and hide processing has taken advantage of heating water to clean and remove fat from skins before they are further processed. This paper presents an innovative method that has transformed cow skin and has the potential to be manipulated to make artefacts that could be used in domestic and martial situations. This research combined ethnographic investigation with experimental practice that could be considered inconspicuous in the archaeological record. The resulting shield has many of the attributes required of a practical martial object, it is lightweight, but robust, flexible, and durable. This paper presents pioneering experimental research that establishes a new narrative for the use of hot-stone technology. The process allows a shield to be produced far quicker, and without additional ingredients, unlike the Cuir-Bouilli method that is considered to be and is still used in reconstructions today. The process from preparation of skin, to the resulting capability of the shield to perform as a martial object will be presented. In addition, consideration will be given to the potential of this process to provide insight into skin-based material culture that is often missing in the prehistoric record, as it provides a credible alternative to the use of leather and the Cuir-Bouilli technique.
Poster 4: The Late Antique Lusoria of the Living Danube Limes project
Anna Kaiser1 and Boris Dreyer2
1 Danube University Krems (AT)
2 Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (DE)
The Interreg project “Living Danube Limes'' aims at connecting the Danube region with its Roman heritage along the Danube limes. Heritage protection measures, sustainable tourism development, and establishment of a sound chain of interconnected museums complete the dissemination of archaeological information to the public. In the project, the Danube is pivotal, not only as Roman border region, but especially as a highway connecting the provinces of the Roman Empire as well as the modern riparian states. The tangible sign for connecting the partner countries and reflecting the Roman period is the full reconstruction of a late antique lusoria, which travels from Germany to the Black Sea at the end of the project, steered and rowed by a crew fully dressed in Roman attire.
The poster focuses on the reconstruction of the lusoria, which is undertaken following Roman shipbuilding traditions, using Roman technology and techniques as well as (replica) materials and tools. The building of the replica tools is already in full progress and takes centre stage. The focus will be on the smithy and the production of nails, hammers, saws and other iron components needed for the lusoria, all forged following Roman examples and with Roman techniques. When reconstructing the Roman tools, we are guided by the knowledge we have at hand. Two examples: The saw has angled teeth, as can be seen by closer look from the reliefs and finds. Similarly, according to the Roman fire forging technique in axes, the harder "steel" on the blade is inserted into the softer remnant iron. As in the original finds, a seam is then visible. The axe has proved just as effective as a modern axe when felling spruce for the boat.
Poster 5: Advancing the Warp: Re-visiting the Coppergate 1336 Textile Through an Experimental Approach
Humboldt State University (US) and University of Exeter (UK)
In previous research, the author produced a re-creation of the Coppergate textile 1336, also known as wabengewebe. In trying to understand the technology further, an experimental archaeology project was undertaken in the creation of a warp weighted loom and the use of fibers (linen) used in the original textile, with the thread counts at a comparative set per centimeter as that of the original. Data was collected in the time involved and the procedure in weaving the structure on a warp weighted loom. The loom was constructed at a diminished size, to make it more portable, but provided much insight into the setup, warping, and weaving of the textile. This presentation looks at the timeline of the experimental archaeology project and how this type of research can help to gain insight into the time, resources and skill set needed to create what is, today, considered a complex weave.
Provided the in-person conference will be happening, I would like to be included in the on-site presentations in Exeter. I will be presenting the paper outlined above and will present a demonstration on the small warp weighted loom I created with the Coppergate textile warp. Participants will have the chance to personally experience the weaving technology by trying their hand at using a warp weighted loom, offering them insight into the technology and skill set needed by weavers during the 9th/10th centuries.
Poster 6: Reflections into the Potted Past. An archaeological experiment in reproducing the lustrous surfaces of dark-burnished wares from ancient Roman Britain
University of Exeter, UK
An experiment was conducted to explore the high gloss sheens characteristic of Romano-British black- and dark-burnished wares, and the probable processes in producing those surfaces. The aims of this research were to determine the best, most ideal, finishing technique(s) most likely used by potters of Roman Britain, by replicating glossy surfaces on reproduction vessels through the experimentation of burnishing and polishing applications. The qualitative and quantitative results reveal that using terra sigillata burnish material, Tool A – burnishing stone, and beeswax post-fire polish produced the highest pottery surface glosses. The materials and techniques from this experiment fall within the experimental archaeological parameters in studying pottery production of Romano-British wares. Burnishing terra sigillata with a burnishing stone, followed by an application of beeswax as a post-fire polish, was an achievable pottery treatment by the ancient Romano-British potters in producing glossy surfaces. Although such surface treatments may have varied, these findings suggest that this technique was probably used in producing the high gloss surfaces iconic to Romano-British black- and dark-burnished wares.
Poster 7: Stinging Nettles, Splicing and Social Media: How Online Interaction Helped Develop an Experiment
Independent researcher (UK)
In July 2020 I made a YouTube video intended to help demonstrate how splicing works in prehistoric textiles, drawing on an important 2018 paper by Gleba & Harris. An overwhelming and unexpected response to this from watchers worldwide encouraged the development of a larger, and currently ongoing, project into spliced nettle textiles which includes elements of crowd-sourced citizen science. This paper will briefly outline the project, the response, and the insights into using social media to share early stage experimentation and to explore questions that can be asked in future work.
Poster 8: A-mace-ing know-how: Reconstructing Southern Levantine Metallurgy in the Chalcolithic
Thomas Rose1,2, Yarden Pagelson1 and Yuval Goren1
1 Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near East, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (IL)
2 Department of Antiquity, Sapienza University of Rome (IT)
The metallurgical technology of the Chalcolithic Southern Levant is scarcely represented in the archaeological record. While some (s)melting installations are known, the preserved remains are by no means sufficient to allow a detailed reconstruction of the metallurgical process chain from the archaeological record alone. Additionally, especially remains from the lost-wax casting process – used to make e.g. most of the metal objects found in the Nahal Mishmar hoard – were not found yet, except for mould remains left on the objects. The whole process, i.e. melting a copper alloy and using it for lost-wax casting, was aimed to be reconstructed in an archaeological experiment to answer two main questions: Does the experimental reconstruction of the melting process produce features comparable to those found in the archaeological record? Can the remains from the lost-wax casting process be identified in the archaeological record? The archaeological experiment consisted of three parts: Recreating the mould and crucibles, melting and casting, and testing the identifiability of the mould remains. A mace head was chosen as template and three different local clays were used for the crucibles to gain inferences about their behaviour in metallurgical processes. Due to the scarcity of the archaeological record, large parts of the wax modelling and mould preparation process were considerably inspired by ethnographical records from Nepal and India. The experiments did not succeed in melting the metal. However, they were successful in producing many of the features observed in the archaeological record and giving valuable indications about the (in)visibility of the lost-wax casting technology.