Archaeologists often pride themselves in being interdisciplinary. We study objects, landscape, geology, environmental science, biological science, chemistry, art, history, craft production, literature, physics, philosophy, agriculture, husbandry, and the list can honestly go on and on and on.
One thing we don’t do so well with is admitting that a non-archaeologist may have valuable insight into our problem. Continue reading
Last week I wrote a post about issues with bead reporting. One of the steps I suggested for improving our current system was for bead specialists to stop dividing themselves into those who look at chemical analysis and those who look at essentially everything else (what I’m calling visual characteristics). Since very few people reading this post are familiar with the issue, I figured I would explain it in a bit more detail. Continue reading
Posted in Lab Notes
Tagged archaeology, artefact, bead, chemistry, classification, collaboration, colour, data, manufacture, methodology, network, science, technology
Beads are incredibly common in the archaeological record and date back well into the Neolithic if not before. Shell, bone, amber, stone, glass, clay, and metal have all been turned into beads over the millennia and they appear at far more sites than you might think. I know of at least 140 sites in Anglo-Saxon period England with glass beads alone.
Beads are everywhere. Continue reading
Beads come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and materials. They can be manufactured in a number of ways and have any combination of decorations and alterations to their form. So few people study glass beads that there is no standard method for discussing or classifying them. Continue reading
Last night I attended a lecture by Stuart Jeffrey from the Glasgow School of Art about the digital modeling of archaeological sites, structures, and artefacts. Using various technologies (often but not always involving lasers), we can create 3D models of an object and then (in the case of artefacts) use a 3D printer to make a replica. Continue reading
In order for chemical analysis of glass to really work in terms of sourcing where the glass is coming from, we have to assume that each glass-making workshop has its own unique chemical signature. Otherwise, we can’t use chemistry to source the glass. Continue reading
If we look at beads found at sites in Britain from the pre-Roman Iron Age through the Anglo-Saxon period (roughly 1000 years), we can easily see Roman influence. You might be surprised to think we can see such a thing in such small objects (generally less than 1cm in diameter), but we can. Continue reading
Posted in Lab Notes
Tagged anglo-saxon, archaeology, artefact, bead, britain, glass, iron age, materiality, medieval, rome, terminology, theory
I am a huge proponent of sharing scientific knowledge. Heck, if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have this blog (or Rantin’ and Rovin’). It saddens me how many scientific journals require subscriptions in order to view the articles they publish or how many online databases charge roughly £30 just to gain access to one article for a single week. Continue reading
A friend of mine recently posted an article on my Facebook wall talking about the issues of relic hunting. It was an opinion piece in the New York Times written by an archaeologist and was well worth the read.
The main take-away message is that relic hunting is bad for everyone (except the relic hunter, maybe), because it rips historic artifacts from the context of the site and destroys huge swaths of data and information that we as archaeologists could use to understand and inform others of our own history. The same is often said of looting. Continue reading