World Archaeology Section Newsletter #3: January / February 2019

Happy New Year and welcome to the World Archaeology Section Newsletter #3, for the months of January and February 2019. This coming term looks set to offer some fascinating opportunities to attend and contribute to events as diverse as the Workshop on Maya Myths and Glyphs, the training course on Mediterranean glass at the British School at Athens, or else the lecture on what economics can bring to bear on the perennial archaeological topic of the origins of agriculture. We also have the launch of the WA Section’s very own Off the Record seminar series, so look out for the email announcement for that coming in the next few days. And, as ever, if you have any questions, or content you’d like to contribute, do get in touch with one of us, at or



Upcoming Talks and Events

Calls for Papers/Submissions



Re-appointment of the Institute Director

It has been announced that Professor Sue Hamilton has been re-appointed for a further term from 1st September 2019 until 31st August 2022 inclusive as Director of the Institute of Archaeology.

World Archaeology Section Off the Record Seminars

This term will see the relaunching of the World Archaeology Section’s Off the Record seminar series. We have a very exciting roster of speakers and subjects lined up, and we’re looking forward to sharing the details with you in the next couple of days. Topics such as object entanglement, the challenges of contract archaeology in the 21st century, and the origins of agriculture are all on the cards, so keep your eyes peeled for the full line-up in the coming days, by email, on posters around the department, and on the WA section’s display board on the IoA staircase.

Upcoming Talks and Events:

Workshop – Maya on the Thames: Sixth Annual Workshop on Maya Myths and Glyphs.

8th-10th February 2019. UCL Institute of Archaeology.

The 6th Annual Maya Workshops, Maya-on-the-Thames, will take place from Friday 8th through Sunday 10th February 2019 at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. The weekend will be full of all things Maya: an introductory lecture and two different workshops will run over the course of the weekend for all levels and interests! Each workshop will be led by experts in the field of Maya culture and epigraphy and all participants are welcome to attend the introductory lecture given by Dr. Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki) on the Friday evening. Tickets for the hieroglyphic workshops (two days) are £33 (£22 student).** All ticket prices include admission to the introductory lecture on the Friday. Places for each workshop can be booked via the following link:

There will also be two gallery talks taking place at the British Museum on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th February. These will begin at 13:15 and are free to attend so please just come and join us in the Mexico Gallery! The topics are as follows:

Tuesday 5th February: The Life of a Maya King, Written in Stone – Dr. Eva Jobbová and Panos Kratimenos

Wednesday 6th February: Royal Ritual at Yaxchilan – Dr. Eva Jobbová and Prof. Elizabeth Graham

The main sessions are as follows:

1) Introduction to Maya Writing (Beginner’s Hieroglyph Workshop) led by Ramzy Barrois

10am – 5.30pm Saturday 9th February and 10am – 5pm Sunday 10th February 2019

The objective of this two-day workshop is to provide an intensive introduction to the study of Maya hieroglyphs. Alongside lectures aimed at introducing participants to the core concepts of Maya epigraphy and giving them a grounding to pursue decipherment independently, participants will also have the opportunity to decipher hieroglyphs on their own and in groups during the workshop, with assistance from the tutors.

2) The Development and Visual Characteristics of Maya Hieroglyphs led by Dr. Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki)

10am – 5.30pm Saturday 9th February and 10am – 5pm Sunday 10th February 2019

The objective of this workshop is to provide the participants with some insights on the methods used in Maya epigraphy, especially as relates to the study of the graphic origins, development, and visual characteristics of Maya signs. Besides the visible language (i.e., Maya hieroglyphic writing), participants will also examine the lexical origins of Maya signs by consulting various dictionaries, as well as other resources and reference materials. The expected outcome of the workshop is a more profound understanding of the Maya script and the methods involved in its study.

Tickets: £33 (£22 students)
If you have any queries or if we can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at, and see the attached poster.

Institute of Archaeology Term II Research Seminar Series – Current Research in the Archaeology of Sudan

Mondays, 4pm-6pm. Room 612. UCL Institute of Archaeology.

The Term II Research Seminar series on the archaeology of Sudan brings together current research from members and alumnae of the Institute of Archaeology and colleagues from other UK institutions working in and on Sudan. IoA’s “Archaeology of Egypt and Sudan” Research Network takes the seminar series as a chance to explore the expanding research on Sudan and the growing prominence of this research in wider World Archaeology.

28 January 2019 Neal Spencer, British Museum – Rethinking the experience of ancient empire: perspectives from Amara West in Upper Nubia (Sudan)
4 February 2019 Tina Jakob, Department of Archaeology, Durham University – Bioarchaeological research at Al Khiday 2 and Mograt Island
18 February 2019 Anna Garnett, Petrie Museum, University College London – Sudan and the Petrie Museum: A history of excavation, scholarship and engagement
25 February 2019 Dorian Fuller, IoA – The origins of sorghum and the long duree of agropastoral economies from the Neolithic to the Meroitic period in the Central Sudan: evidence from excavations old and new
4 March 2019 Christian Knoblauch, Swansea University – Revisiting the archaeology of Middle Kingdom colonies in Nubia
11 March 2019 Will Carruthers, Art History and World Art Studies, University of East Anglia – Archaeology, UNESCO’s Nubian Campaign, and the remaking of colonial pasts
18 March 2019 Claudia Näser, IoA – Majority Muslim communities, archaeology and the pre-Islamic past: Finding new ground for engagement
See attached poster for more information.

Lecture – Early Glass Making in Ile-Ife, Nigeria: Invention, or Another Case of ‘Diffused’ Technology?

24th January 2019. 6pm. IAS Forum, Room G17, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building, UCL, London.

By Abidemi Babatunde Babalola (Smuts Research Fellow of the Centre of African Studies at Cambridge University)

Archaeological and anthropological discourse on the invention and development of sophisticated technologies has often placed Africa, South of the Sahara, on the lowest rung of technological advancement. Consequently, evidence of technological breakthrough in the sub-continent is either superficially argued to have originated from outside or completely ignored as minus amet. While considerable attention has been focused on understanding the (r)evolution of iron technology in Africa, little or no effort is made at investigating glass production, because glass technology is believed not to have existed in Africa prior to European contact. However, recent archaeological research at Igbo Olokun – an early glass-making workshop in Ile-Ife, southwest Nigeria – has revealed an African indigenous glass technology for making high-lime, high-alumina glass preceding the 15th century. This presentation discusses the technology and production of the Ile-Ife glass and its uniqueness among known ancient glasses. It argues that the Ile-Ife glass presents an invention rather than a diffused technology.

Lecture – Interaction and Localisation: Adoption and Transmission of Metallurgy in Early China

23rd January 2019. 6:10pm. Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology, London.

By Dr Kunlong Chen (University of Science and Technology Beijing & UCL)

The beginning and early development of metallurgy in China are longstanding hot topics in Chinese and Eurasian archaeology. This talk will present new archaeological and archaeometallurgical evidences and assesses them within temporal-spatial framework. It is shown that early development of metallurgy in China was diachronic and diverse. The end of third millennium BCE saw the arrival and adoption of metallurgy by the local Machang communities with evident technological simulation and possible economic impetus from the Eurasian steppe and/or central Asia. The adaption to local natural resources and social-economic tradition, together with influences from continued long-distance interactions with steppes pastoralists had reshaped metallurgical practices. It was this reshaped metal production that facilitated further eastward dissemination of technological knowledge within the Chinese Neolithic interactions sphere and the ultimate establishment of new metallurgical tradition in the Central Plain.

Lecture – Economics Meets Archaeology: The Origins of Agriculture

31st January 2019. 6pm. Room 410, UCL Institute of Archaeology.

By Gregory K. Dow and Clyde G. Reed (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University)

The transition to agriculture is generally acknowledged to be the economic foundation for modern civilization. We focus on the shift from foraging to cultivation in southwest Asia around 12,000 years ago and propose an economic model of this process. Our hypothesis is that a large negative climate shock (the Younger Dryas) led to greater aridity, and caused a large pre-existing regional population to migrate toward a few sites having good access to surface water (such as Abu Hureyra). These migration effects led to a decline in the marginal product of foraging labor at the refuge sites, which in turn led to initial cultivation. In the long run, Malthusian population dynamics tended to push the system back toward foraging, while technical progress in cultivation tended to make the transition to agriculture permanent. For southwest Asia, technical change won the race, and agriculture spread across the region in the Holocene. We suggest that similar causal mechanisms may have been at work for some other pristine agricultural transitions.
This is the first of three lectures delivered on the subject of Economics Meets Archaeology. The following two lectures are on February 21st (Room 410, IoA) and 26th (Room G11, Ground Floor, South Wing, Main UCL Building) at 6pm, and on the topics of the Origins of Inequality, and the Origins of City-States respectively.

Calls for Papers and Submissions:

Call for Papers and Posters – The Late Antique Urban Landscape: Continuity, Transformation, and Innovation at the Juncture of the Classical and the Early Medieval

A Susan Manning Workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, 21-22 March 2019.

Over the last twenty years, archaeological excavations have yielded important new evidence and rich artefact assemblages pertaining to late antique urban landscapes across the Mediterranean region. These investigations have done much to enhance our understanding of how cities evolved over the course of the 3rd through 8th centuries AD. Nevertheless, scholarship is far from arriving at an agreement over the characterisation of the late antique city. There are some who prefer to view the situation as one of homogenous stagnation and decline, whereas others prefer one of dynamic transformation and prosperity. While this historical period saw the fall of the western Roman Empire to various barbarian incursions along with the abandonment of many of classical antiquity’s famed cities, the expansion of the Byzantine Empire and the later emergence of the Umayyad Caliphate instigated the founding of several new sites and the lavish restoration of old ones. Recognizing the validity of both arguments depending on the location and time in question, scholarship is in desperate need of a more holistic view of cities and their inhabitants during this transformative period, particularly one that moves beyond the focus on a particular topic or geographic region and integrates this narrative within diverse areas of research, such as Classical, Byzantine, Islamic, and Medieval Studies.

Therefore, submissions are invited for paper and poster presentations from researchers, scholars, and postgraduates positioned within varied academic disciplines to address significant instances of continuity, transformation, and innovation within the late antique urban milieu, with the aim of providing a more coherent narrative for the whole of the Mediterranean region from the 3rd through 8th centuries AD. Potential topics for consideration include, but are not limited to, political and religious administration; civic patronage; the effects of militarization, fortification, and/or ruralisation; urban networks and trade; and art and architectural production. Considerations of the conceptual, subjective experience of cities are also welcome, particularly those that explore popular culture and activities contingent on an urban landscape, such as public spectacle and festivals. By exploring issues such as these, scholars will assess the extent to which late antique populations were compelled by classical ideals, economic constraints, and/or contemporary sociopolitical and religious exigencies in the shaping of their urban environment. In doing so, they will challenge the premise that late antique urban spaces were largely impoverished, uncontrolled, and disorganized, and that their buildings and topographic landscapes were amateurish copies of their classical predecessors. It is thus expected that the discourse of this symposium will do much to further shift our understanding of late antique cities from the pejorative connotations of decline and degradation to a more neutral, if not positive view of transformation, intentionality, and creativity.

For full consideration, please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words, as well as your name, affiliation, and short biography to by 8 February 2019. Decisions will be made by February 15. Papers are expected to be 30-45 minutes, with 15 minutes for discussion. Publication of the presented papers and posters may be sought after the completion of the symposium. Confirmed speakers include: Jim Crow (Edinburgh), Lucy Grig (Edinburgh), and Ine Jacobs (Oxford).


Call for Papers – Trial By Fire Conference

A free interdisciplinary conference about the transformative power of fire. Whether your interest lies in archaeomaterials, burned bone, pyrotechnology, or accidental burning, fire always leaves its mark and a wealth of information behind. This conference aims to explore these events by bringing together ideas from across archaeological and anthropological sub-disciplines. Abstracts will cover a range of topics and case studies, however the conference aims to answer the following questions: Can fire be considered an artefact? How have people engaged with fire over the course of history? What can the aesthetics of a thermally altered object tell us about the burning event? How has the study of fire evolved within the literature? How can fire be harnessed as an experimental tool moving forward?

You are invited to contribute your work towards the development of this interdisciplinary understanding of fire. Abstracts are due by 31 January 2019 To submit or for more information, visit The conference will take place on 17-18 May 2019, at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. See the attached poster for more information.

Opportunities and Vacancies:

Training course – Glass in The Mediterranean and the Near East: Archaeology and Archaeometry from the Late Bronze Age to the early Medieval period

British School at Athens – 1st-5th April 2019. Deadline – 28th January.

This five-day course provides an introduction to archaeological glass, its typology, technology, composition and chronological development. It will be of interest to students, early career researchers and others who wish to engage with current research on ancient glass. It comprises daily lectures (20 hours), glass handling sessions, workshops/demonstrations on chemical analysis and scanning electron microscopy of glass, as well as a museum visit (10 hours).

The course co-coordinators and instructors are Dr.Yael Gorin-Rosen (Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem) & Prof. Ian Freestone (UCL Institute of Archaeology, London) with contribution by Dr. Carlotta Gardner (Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens).

Application forms can be downloaded from the BSA website (check, from 03.01.2019 onward). Applications should be submitted to the Fitch Laboratory administrator, Ms Zoe Zgouleta via e-mail ( For further information, please check the relevant sections on the British School at Athens web pages ( or contact either of the two course coordinators, Prof. Ian Freestone ( or Dr.Yael Gorin-Rosen (

A similar course on Ceramic Petrology is also running 13th-24th May 29, the details of which can be found here:

Excavation – Castelo Velho de Safara, Portugal.

Various dates, June-July 2019.

A number of places are available for students at the IoA to participate in excavations at the Iron Age and Roman Republican period site of Castelo Velho de Safara, in Portugal.

Please find all the info in the flyer attached to this email and/or check the website at You may also contact excavation leader Mariana Nabais at


British School at Athens Prehistoric, Greek, and Roman Pottery Course

Deadline – February 22nd 2019

This intensive course gives participants a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with one of the major pottery sequences in Greece, guided by leading specialists in the field. Based at the British School’s Research Centre at Knossos, it makes use of the rich holdings of the Stratigraphic Museum which include material from across the Mediterranean in all periods from the Neolithic to Late Roman. Essential skills, like drawing and macroscopic fabric analysis, are taught in supporting workshops, and a series of lectures will introduce themes, problems and methods in the study and publication of ceramics. The course also comprises field classes to abandoned pottery workshops of the late 19th century, potting villages, visits to important Bronze Age, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman archaeological sites, along with the Heraklion Archaeological Museum. Local potters, specializing in traditional techniques, provide practical experience of all stages of pottery production.

The course coordinator is Dr Kostis S. Christakis (The Knossos Curator) and instructors are Prof. Todd Whitelaw (UCL Institute of Archaeology), Dr Colin Macdonald (British School at Athens), Dr Conor Trainor (University of Warwick), Mr Antonio Bianco (University of Crete), Dr Maria Choleva (Postdoctoral Research Fellow UCLouvain), Dr. Carlotta Gardner (Williams Fellow in Ceramic Petrology, Fitch Laboratory), and Dr Denitsa Nenova (UCL Institute of Archaeology).

The course is primarily intended for postgraduate students wishing to acquire or strengthen vital archaeological skills, but applications from late stage undergraduates with a strong intention to continue their studies will also be considered.

Completed application forms and an academic reference letter (it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that her/his reference is sent) should be emailed to the Knossos Curator Dr Kostis S. Christakis ( by 22nd February 2019. For further information, see the website


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