Section Newsletter #2 – June

June 2015

Welcome to the June 2015 edition of the IOA World Archaeology Section Newsletter.


‘Off The Record’ #5 Lunch time discussions

NayueThursday 2nd July, 12pm, Room 412

Thank you to everyone who has attended the lunchtime seminars so far. The series will be returning in July with Francis Allard talking about The Nanyue kingdom: archaeology and history beyond early China’s southern periphery. As ever, bring your lunch with you. We are currently looking for more speakers for future OTRs. Please get in touch with Andy Brown with your availability. Find out more →

A Word about ‘Off the Record’ so far…

Andy Brown, PhD Candidate, Institute of Archaeology

The World Archaeology section’s new lunchtime series ‘Off the Record’ began in May. The series was developed as a forum for informal discussion of ideas and to improve the awareness of research being conducted within the section. The series began with a well-attended comparison of Ukrainian and Mesopotamian sites by David Wengrow. David argued that the ‘super sites’ of the Ukraine may require us to re-think some long-held ideas about social-complexity and urbanism developed on the basis of the large Mesopotamian sites, such as Uruk. This presentation inadvertently set up a general theme for the remaining talks.

Andrew Reynolds hosting his discussion on social complexity in non-urban societies.
Andrew Reynolds hosting his discussion on social complexity in non-urban societies.

Andrew Reynolds spoke about social complexity in non-urban societies. Drawing on evidence from his work on Anglo-saxon England and other post-Roman contexts in Europe, Andrew argued that social complexity is evident in the landscape without the presence of large urban centres. His example from the landscape around Sutton Hoo was particularly compelling.

Borja Legara Herrero presented evidence of ‘super-sites’ in the southern Iberian Chalcolithic. Borja’s presentation was titled, ‘Nobody expects the Spanish super-sites’ and this proved apt, as few in the audience had heard of them. Of particular interest was the evidence of site development through time and the implications for social organisation.

The Nanyue kingdom
The Nanyue kingdom

The last discussant was Manuel Arroyo-Kalin who spoke about settlements in Amazonia. Manuel focussed on large-scale patterns, showing the importance of the Amazon and its tributaries in the settlement of the eastern Amazonia. Manuel also discussed the geoglyphs that have been revealed with the advance of forest clearance, these sites are particularly intriguing and combined with the other evidence from the region provided an interesting contrast to the previous talks based in the old-world.

The first series of ‘Off the Record’ provided a range of interesting perspectives from around the world, capitalising on the scope of research in the section. Overall the presentations and the discussions that followed were excellent on a couple of levels: firstly as a means of gaining useful information and insights, and secondly as an opportunity as an archaeological enthusiast to hear about some interesting research and sites. I would like to thank the speakers and attendee’s for making the first series a success.

The series will resume in the Autumn term and we welcome anybody who wishes to contribute. The format is flexible and can be tailored to fit everything from panel discussions to trial runs of conference presentations. In particular, we would welcome contributions and attendance from graduate students.

Lunch and archaeology: come and join us for the next ‘Off the Record’

Section member: Ulrike Sommer

Ulrike_Sommer_103_1Between the Mountains and the Flood: Excavations in Tășnad and Environs 2015

The Excavations of the Starevo-Criș settlement at Tășnad Sere, a joint project of the Institute of Archaeology and Satu Mare Museum have been running since 2012.

Its aims are twofold:
1. To understand the start of the Neolithisation of Central Europe, especially the transition between central Transylvania and the Great Hungarian plain. Tășnad is located right at the boundary between the two areas. When the first farmers left the hills, they had to adapt to a very different and much wetter environment. This should be reflected in the use of different domesticates. In order to answer this question, we are going to dig several test-pits in the Homorod-Valley to the South of Tășnad this year, in order to get well dated plant remains and bones from a slightly different environmental zone.

The excavation sites, with the Tășnad hills in the background
The excavation sites, with the Tășnad hills in the background

2. Understanding depositional processes. Tășnad offers a rare combination of post-built houses, the ubiquitous pits and a well preserved occupation horizon. In order to understand how the finds in the occupation horizon relate to houses and pits, every find >1cm is documented three-dimensionally, orientation and dip are recorded as well.

Excavating in squares
Excavating in squares

This year, I have been increasingly interested in the individual dumping episodes. While it will be very difficult to link them to each other and the actual house they originated in, it is the nearest Neolithic archaeology can get to actual Pompeii-events. Their composition should help us to understand the organisation of production and raw-material acquisition (clay, temper, lithic raw materials and plants).

Dumping event, dominated by the sherds of one pot
Dumping event, dominated by the sherds of one pot

News & announcements

Thank you to the Petrie Museum

A number of World Archaeology student and staff visited the Petrie museum last month. The occasion was enjoyed by all and we look forward to any more.

Section UCLU Awards

The Institute was well represented in the UCLU Student Choice Teaching Awards last month. From the World Archaeology Section Andrew Reid received the Provost’s Teaching Award and Tim Williams received an award for outstanding teaching.

World Archaeology Festival 2015 Photo: Lisa Daniel
World Archaeology Festival 2015 Photo: Lisa Daniel

Congratulations to everyone involved in WAF2015

June saw the return of the World Archaeology Festival 2015 which took place in and around the Institute. Thanks to all those who made it such a success! Lisa Daniels has taken a fantastic set of photos available on Facebook here.

Section research

 Stuart Brookes Baker, J. & Brookes, S. (2015)
Identifying outdoor assembly sites in early medieval England
In: Journal of Field Archaeology. 40 (1) pp. 3-21.
 Richard Bussmann Bussmann, R. (2015)
Egyptian Archaeology and Social Anthropology
Oxford Handbooks Online, April 2015.
 David Wengrow Wengrow, D. & Graeber, D. (2015)
Farewell to the Childhood of Man: Ritual, Seasonality, and the Origins of Inequality
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Section Postgraduate Activity


Jill Goulder, among several other IoA post-graduate students, presented a paper at ASWA (Archaeozoology of Southwest Asia and Adjacent Areas) in Groningen, 10-14 June 2015; her paper, based on her PhD thesis subject, is entitled ‘Invisible donkeys (and cows) in the Ancient Near East: new archaeological insights into the early systematic use of working animals, using modern studies in developing countries’.

Prehistoric Society EUROPA Conference 2015

Barney Harris visited UCD, Ireland last month to speak at the Prehistoric Society’s conference: The Origins of Monumentality. His paper; Roll me a great stone: the megalithic roller hypothesis and other legends examined the unusual origins of one of megalithic archaeology’s most ubiquitous ideas: the notion that large stones were transported in prehistory using wooden rollers.

Technology: Ideology, Economics and Power in the Andes

Viviana Siveroni joined Bill Sillar and Miguel Fuentes in organising an excellent conference on Andean technology. The conference was hosted at the IOA and was kindly sponsored by UCL Institute of Archaeology, the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London, the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurical Studies and the Peruvian Embassy in the UK.

Wider News

Sound tracks: acoustic landscapes in the past and present

For the next two years, the British Library will be joining forces with archaeologists and sound artists from the University of York to investigate how sound has shaped the human experience in and around the Creswell Gorge area over the past 50,000 years.
Find out more →

Digging up Jericho: Past, Present and Future

An international symposium entitled ‘Digging up Jericho: Past, Present and Future’ will be held at the Institute from 29-30 June.
Find out more →


Abydos: the sacred land at the western horizon The Annual Egyptology Colloquium Thursday 9 July and Friday 10 July 2015 BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum.

Inequality, Scale, and Civilisation

8 – 11 July 2015 Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
University College London, Centre for Research into the Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC) Organisers: Chris Hann (MPI for Social Anthropology) and David Wengrow (UCL, Centre for Research into the Dynamics of Civilisation)
Find out more →


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