Off the Record, Friday 9th February: Bronze Age Catacomb Cultural and Historical Community

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We are very pleased to welcome Kateryna Minakova (Dnipro University of Humanities) to give an ‘Off the Record’ World Archaeology Section seminar. A lecture about Bronze Age Catacomb Cultural and Historical Community – what do we know about it and what secrets are not discovered yet.

Would you replace the head of your dead relative with a goat’s skull? Nothing strange if you grow up in the catacomb culture! 

The Catacomb culture (c. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age, occupying essentially what is present-day eastern Ukraine and southern Russia.

The culture applied cord-imprinted decorations to its pottery and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the Corded Ware culture in the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including artificial cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamna culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded in the west by the Multi-cordoned ware culture from the 22nd century BC, and the Srubna culture from the 17th century BC onwards.

All welcome!

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Archaeological Heritage of Northern Chile

Miguel Fuentes, a PhD student and member of the World Archaeology section, has sent two short films relating to his research project.

This audio-visual material, developed in the framework of my doctoral research “Inca Expansion and Local Populations in the Highlands of Arica”, aims to collaborate with the promotion of the archaeological and cultural heritage of the indigenous communities and local populations of Northern Chile.

One of my goals with the release of this material is related to the fulfilment of the necessary social retribution in which researchers and intellectual workers must be engaged.

The Inca Tambo of Zapahuira and its surroundings (Arica Highlands – Chile)

The Inca Tambo of Zapahuira, located in the area of Putre in the Arica Region, was an Inca settlement that would have played a vital role in the functioning of the Inca road network of the Lluta and Azapa Valleys.

It has also been suggested that this site would have played the role of an administrative centre for the presence of the Tawantinsuyo in the area. In addition to the two Inca kanchas that characterize this site, there are important agricultural infrastructure works in the surroundings, such as the numerous cultivation terraces that cover the nearby slopes and the traces of old irrigation canals.

The Metallurgical-Ceremonial Centre of Huaycuta and the Collcas of Zapahuira (Arica Highlands – Chile)

The archaeological site of Huaycuta, located at the top of Cerro Sombrero and around two kilometres west of the modern town of Zapahuira, is characterized by the presence of several circular structures and stone alignments. This site would have constituted an important Metallurgical and Local Ceremonial Centre of the Late Intermediate Period and possibly during the Inca expansion.

In the case of Zapahuira Collcas, emplaced nearby Huaycuta, this site is formed by several rectangular units interpreted as Incan enclosures associated with storage functions.

Several groupings of isolated structures, land demarcations, chullpas and a possible Local Plaza can be found in the surroundings.

If any other section members have films or photographs of their research that they would like to share, please email us!

Off the Record, 1st December – Creswell’s Archive at the V&A: Middle Eastern topographical photographs dating from the early 20th century

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This Friday ‘Off the Record’ welcomes Dr Omniya Abdel Barr, Barakat Visiting Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum, who will speak about Creswell’s Archive at the V&A: Middle Eastern topographical photographs dating from the early 20th century.

Friday 1st December, 1-2pm in room B13. All welcome!

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Professor Sir Keppel Archibald Cameron Creswell (1879 – 1974), a pioneer of medieval Islamic architectural scholarship, travelled extensively in the Middle East, photographing sites along the way and leaving an extremely important photographic archive which is now preserved in a number of international collections. Noting his expertise in the subject of Islamic art and architecture, as well as his unique opportunities to take such photographs, in the 1920s the V&A became the first public collection to acquire Creswell’s work. The Museum now holds more than three thousand of his photographic prints, the majority of which depict Cairo, but also other cities across the Middle East and North Africa.

As part of the V&A’s commitment to digitising and thus improving access to its collection, this archive is now being analysed and systematically catalogued by researcher Omniya Abdel Barr, with funding from the Barakat Trust. During this talk, she will discuss her efforts to investigate Creswell’s photographs as well as the stories they reveal; adding geospatial data to map these historic sites and including Arabic script which will allow this important collection to be more accessible to our audiences. The project will also support the identification of valuable architectural elements which are today lost, destroyed or stolen from Islamic monuments, permanently documenting the fading traces of these important cultural sites.

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The temple of Ptah at Memphis in the Saite-Persian era: landscape, sanctuaries, people

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Coming up this Friday the 27th October a talk by Nenad Marković. His talk will focus on elite priestly families of Memphis during the late Saite and the beginning of the Persian era (570-486 BCE) and their interrelations. His research also includes prosopography of Lower Egypt during the Saite-Persian and Ptolemaic Periods (664–30 BCE), the religious and socio-political history of Saite-Persian, Ptolemaic, and Roman Egypt (664 BCE–395 CE), as well as high priests of Ptah (c. 2700 BCE–c. 232 CE), the cult of the divine Apis bull (c. 3100 BCE–362 CE), and royal and non-royal women of Saite-Persian Egypt.

UAVs (drones) in Archaeology – Gai Jorayev

Many thanks to Gai Jorayev for giving the first ‘Off the Record’ seminar of the term in which he explored the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, ‘drones’) in Archaeology.

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Gai described the use of UAVs in a wide range of projects in the Institute, including the Ancient Merv Project and in Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania), as well as in Archaeology South-East projects, with stunning images, 3D models and aerial footage demonstrating the importance of this technology for mapping, photogrammetric recording and heritage management. The value of UAVs in public engagement, both when in use and in producing such compelling results, was also clear.

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Gai described how the development in recent years of not only the UAVs themselves but also camera technology and software have pushed forward what is now possible, and how this has also been enhanced by skills and experience built up by using a range of equipment, software and techniques in varied locations and through experimentation. He also discussed the issues of processing the large quantities of data produced, as well as working in challenging terrain.

Thanks again to Gai for discussing the opportunities and challenges of this fascinating and rapidly-developing field!

A reminder that next Wednesday, 18th October, Tommaso Mattioli (University of Barcelona) and Margarita Díaz-Andreu (ICREA and University of Barcelona) will be giving a seminar, 5-6pm in room 209:

Intangible landscapes: measuring the acoustics of rock art sites in the Central and Western Mediterranean

For some time researchers have pointed out that, in addition to the visual, other senses may explain the production and location of rock art in prehistoric landscapes. Among all the senses, an increasing attention is being paid to hearing, but measuring acoustics has proved to be a challenge. Rock art researchers usually work in remote, open-air environments in which the equipment usually employed by acoustical engineers and architects is not adequate. In this talk we will discuss how we were able to overcome this and other difficulties in the case of our examination of rock art landscapes in the Central and Western Mediterranean.

Off the Record – Intangible landscapes: measuring the acoustics of rock art sites in the Central and Western Mediterranean, 18th October

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We are very pleased to welcome Tommaso Mattioli (University of Barcelona) and Margarita Díaz-Andreu (ICREA and University of Barcelona) to give an ‘Off the Record’ World Archaeology Section seminar, on Wednesday 18th October, 5-6pm, in room 209. 

Intangible landscapes: measuring the acoustics of rock art sites in the Central and Western Mediterranean

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For some time researchers have pointed out that, in addition to the visual, other senses may explain the production and location of rock art in prehistoric landscapes. Among all the senses, an increasing attention is being paid to hearing, but measuring acoustics has proved to be a challenge. Rock art researchers usually work in remote, open-air environments in which the equipment usually employed by acoustical engineers and architects is not adequate. In this talk we will discuss how we were able to overcome this and other difficulties in the case of our examination of rock art landscapes in the Central and Western Mediterranean.

Find out more on the project website: http://www.archeoacustica.net/

Also, a reminder that this week, on Friday 13th October, 1-2pm, Gai Jorayev will be giving the first ‘Off the Record’ lunchtime seminar this term, on UAVs (drones) in Archaeology in room 209.