Between the 19th and 24th March, John and Mary attended the Computer Applications in Archaeology annual conference, this year held in Tübingen in southern Germany. Laura also presented work she had completed with FLAME before moving to the British Museum last year.
The CAA meeting is a place where all aspects of digital archaeology are represented and is an exciting forum in which to discover and discuss approaches to the collection, analysis and representation of digital data. The organisation is made up from members from across the world and being able to tap into this pool expertise is a great resource.
Mary and John reported on their work using arrays, to represent both the temporal and spatial changes in the metal chemistry, evident within the FLAME dataset. Mary emphasised how it is the change and connectivity between states which is of greatest interest and discussed the challenges the team face in modelling these aspects effectively, in four or more dimensions. Following the presentation, useful questions and discussions arose, with lots of input and suggestions provided regarding possible representations of, and experience with, multi-dimensional data. Hearing from other researchers who had faced similar challenges with equally large datasets was a very rewarding experience and the FLAME team were able to make some very useful contacts at the meeting.
Tübingen is a beautiful medieval town with cobbled streets a castle. It is not far from the Swabian Jura, where a new World Heritage Site was inscribed in 2017. Mary was also lucky enough to be able to visit the caves of Hohler Fels and Geißenklösterle, with the excavators, and to visit the Blaubeuren museum, where much of the wonderful Upper Palaeolithic art from the caves is housed (c. 35000 years old).
FLAME is pleased to confirm that this year, our open meeting will be at The Mongolian Academy of Sciences in Ulaanbaatar. We are very excited to be going to Ulaanbaatar as this key location through which metal objects flowed throughout the bronze age is a priority for gathering new data. The event is being hosted by our project partner Tsagaan Turbat.
The meeting will be on 4th September beginning at 10.00am.
Confirmed speakers include: N-O. Erdene-Ochir , G. Eregzen; Yu. Esin, P. Hommel, G. Hsu, L.Ishtseren, M. Pollard, S. Solongo, S. Tengis and T. Turbat.
For further details please contact the FLAME office on email@example.com
Congratulations to ProfessorDame Jessica Rawson who has been awarded the Charles Lang Freer Medal for her lifetime work in Chinese art and archaeology. The medal will be presented in a private ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Saturday 28th October. She will, at the same time, deliver a lecture for the occasion.
Read more at: https://www.merton.ox.ac.uk/news/dame-jessica-rawson-awarded-charles-lang-freer-medal
The Royal Society of Chemistry has now published a third edition of ‘Archaeological Chemistry’ co-written by FLAME’s Mark Pollard. The book has been updated to encompass the latest developments in the field including a new chapter on proteomics. This book is an ideal starting place for understanding the role of chemistry in Archaeology and how it has enabled archaeologists to determine the origin of and learn more about organic and inorganic finds.
‘The world has changed yet again since the preface to the second edition was written in 2007, and immeasurably so since 1995. Analytical instrumentation continues to improve in terms of micro-sampling, multi-elemental sensitivity, rapidity of throughput, and availability. Mass spectrometry, in all its forms, has been revolutionized over the last ten years. The mantra now, for better or worse, is ‘non-destructive’ and ‘portable’, and the current generation of instruments, including some equipment with multi-technique capability can often be taken to the object, rather than vice versa. Analytical capability in the field analysis of biomolecular residues in archaeological material in particular has changed beyond all recognition, especially for ancient DNA and palaeoproteomics.’
As we add more and more data to our database a conundrum arises. When using historic data from a variety of sources there are many different ways of classifying and naming objects. The team met to see if a common typology could easily be adopted only to find this is a surprisingly complex issue. For example, is an axe a tool or a weapon? The designation and classification of an artefact will vary depending on context, reporting and wider research aims.
In the meantime, we are all going to have a good think about this and reconvene after Christmas.
This was actually a no work day as several team members took the train from Moscow to St Petersburg. It was a great opportunity to see the changing landscape and get a flavour of modern Russia. For those of us used to British trains, it was a real treat to travel on a Russian train. They are very fast and comfortable and even have earphones if you want to watch the film showing. Through the windows we saw the huge blocks of flats and cosmopolitan metropolis give way to a vast flat landscape with thin trees. As we travelled north snow began to appear until we were passing through a frosty snow covered landscape, not something that those of us from Oxford often get to see.
Every now and then we passed through large towns which were once again filled with large modern blocks of flats, and then villages which were clusters of wooden built chalets with smoke pouring from the chimneys. At first they lay snugly nestled amongst the vast green forests but later in the journey formed part of beautiful snowy landscapes.
We arrived in St Petersburg in the early afternoon and between us did a mix of sightseeing, working on abstracts and meetings.
Today we spent the day at the State Historical Museum of Russia. We were fortunate to be hosted by curator and FLAME project partner, Natalia Shishlina, who guided us though the impressive artefacts. We were especially lucky to see behind the scenes where artefacts are restored and cared for.
We held our project AGM at the Museum and look forward to the coming year in which we hope to make progress that is more easily shared.