FLAME to visit the Intermuseum Festival in Moscow

As a result of recent work on ancient metal artefacts undertaken as part an ongoing collaboration between State Historical Museum in Moscow and the European Research Council funded FLAME (Flow of Ancient Metals across Eurasia) project in the School of Archaeology (University of Oxford), Dr Peter Hommel has been invited by the Russian Ministry of Culture to travel to Moscow next week to present a joint paper at the prestigious 21st International Festival of Museums “we will be presenting our recent study of the metal artefacts of the Borodino Hoard, a complex collection of late Bronze Age polished stone, silver, copper and gold alloy artefacts and one of the highlights of the State Historical Museum’s collections. Our study, which builds on more than a century of academic research, uses new analytical-interpretive methods to test our existing knowledge and to reveal hidden details about the biography of this extraordinary assemblage.”

Speaking further of their collaboration, Dr Natalia Shishlina, Head of the Department of Archaeology at the SHM, describes how their joint research also highlights the benefits of connectivity:
“In prehistory, people were moving a lot, communicating and learning from each other. Working together with colleagues across Eurasia as part of the FLAME project, we are following this example. We have already learnt a lot from each other and we hope that these productive collaborations will continue.”
The study of the Borodino Hoard is just one of a series of exciting projects currently underway beneath the banner of the FLAME project, which aims to add new dimensions to our understanding of the rich metallurgical history of the Eurasian Bronze Age. For more information about the project, visit flame.arch.ox.ac.uk

BorodinoHoard-Spears-Square

 

 

Photos copyright—State Historical Museum (Moscow)

Permission received from N. Shishlina, head of the Archaeology Department

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FLAME to visit the Intermuseum Festival in Moscow

Ray’s tour of China, April 2019

FLAME’s post doctoral researcher, Ruiliang Liu (Ray) was invited to China to explain the FLAME project to researchers and students at Chinese Universities. Ray began his lecture tour at  Soochow University, the School of Social Science. Around fifty people were there to hear his presentation entitled ‘Bronze Age China: a special landscape’

Following this Ray gave anther lecture, this time in Nankai University (the home university of Premier Zhou En’lai). It was for the School of History, also one of the best historian groups in China. 

Zhou Enlai Ray Nankai Apr 19

 

Following this a trip to Northwestern Polytechnic University Xi’an.  to present on ‘Bronze Age China: a special landscape in Eurasia’ and then on to USTC (University of Science and Technology China), to give a lecture hosted by Flame partner, Prof Jin. 

Ray lecture in USTC Apr 19

Ray’s tour of China, April 2019

From Mine to Metal, a day out with FLAME and the Pitt Rivers Museum

banner1-remade
(re)made: from mine to metal!

On Saturday 9th June, FLAME’s Dr Peter Hommel and Samantha Bowring led a team of able helpers from the Oxford University School of Archaeology “from Mine to Metal”! Taking over the Pitt Rivers museum, the team led a series of activities i intended to introduce members of the public to various aspects of ancient metallurgy, the history of archaeometallurgy, and the direction of current research in Oxford.

The day was funded by a University of Oxford Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund grant, secured by Dr Hommel (with additional support from Studiocanal, Aardman Animations and The Oxford Charcoal Company), and was based in and around the Pitt Rivers Museum and Natural History Museum.

Highlights included the chance to handle minerals, ores and real archaeological artefacts with experts to hand to answer visitors’ questions. Thanks to Dr Robert Knight of the NHM, visitors had the chance to see native copper, sky-iron, and experience the varied colour of ores. They also were able to explore the history of archaeological analysis through a range of materials loaned from the Coghlan and Tylecote archives. On top of this, there were arts and crafts, prehistory themed colouring, and a chance to win a range of Early Man themed goodies (courtesy of Aardman and Studiocanal). Meanwhile, the Pitt Rivers lecture room was transformed into a Bronze Age mine where those that dared crawled through dark and bumpy tunnels lit only by glowworms and the etherial glimmerings of the tunnels’ walls. Visitors challenged themselves to enter in search of the metallic ores hidden within the depths, winning a chance to be entered into our prize draw. Participants were mostly children with or without their accompanying adults. However, we had a few unaccompanied adults too!  Once they had entered, these older participants unwittingly demonstrated why we think children would have been such an integral part of most ancient mining operations; it often took several minutes for them to struggle back out!

Throughout the day, Dr Peter Hommel and Dr. Chris Green tirelessly demonstrated the process of smelting, transforming malachite into copper and casting and recasting small objects to demonstrate one of the most magical properties of metal. This was an incredibly popular spectacle with many visitors returning staying to watch the whole process and even returning later in the day to see different stages of the process. Over the course of the day we produced just under half a kilo of copper, which we distributed to the audience.

In the evening, another smelting and casting session took place, this time aimed at adults and teenagers. Members of the public had a chance for some hands on experience pumping bellows and casting their own small axe head.

One thing our display clearly demonstrated is how much easier it is to cast an object by melting down some existing metal compares with getting new metal from rock!

 

From Mine to Metal, a day out with FLAME and the Pitt Rivers Museum

CAA International 2018

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.

Tübingen by night
Tübingen by night

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.

Geißenklösterle
Geißenklösterle

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).

CAA International 2018

FLAME Meeting, 4th September, Ulaanbaatar

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 flame@arch.ox.ac.uk

FLAME Meeting, 4th September, Ulaanbaatar

Professor Dame Jessica Rawson awarded Charles Lang Freer Medal

Congratulations to Professor Dame 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

 

 

Professor Dame Jessica Rawson awarded Charles Lang Freer Medal

Archaeological Chemistry, a new edition of a classic book

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.

bookcover

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.’

From the preface to the third edition

 

See here for further information

Archaeological Chemistry, a new edition of a classic book