Day of Archaeology | Come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab

Dear Microburins,

I SEE YOU SHIVER WITH ANTICIPATION?

doa-noyear-200pxIt’s Friday the 11th of July and the international Day of Archaeology! This is the day when hundreds of archaeologists around the world share their secrets, their pleasures and their work in a blog post (web diary). You can follow it on the website or on the Twitter with hashtag #dayofarch. Why wouldn’t you?

Is that a rod microlith in your ziplock or are you just happy to see me?

My own contribution requires you to observe the Captain’s illuminated seat belt sign, place your tray tables in the upright position and strap yourself in for some Mesolithic turbulence (sic) ahead. I hope you also enjoy the lithicist’s toolkit, clamps, slabs, scales, calipers (digital don’t you know), a protractor and a neat little USB x200 microscope. I also won £1.50 on the illustrated Lotto ticket and I shan’t be sharing.

Mesolithic Spence

Extraordinary news | Flixton mesolithic landscape for sale

Dear Microburins,

ForSaleExtraordinary news from the Star Carr project team (University of York) is that part of the Vale of Pickering, containing Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic wetland archaeology, is on the market for £550,000 or as four lots* – see the links and image below.

*Lots 3 (£125,000, 25 acres) and 4 (£305,000, 61 acres) contain Flixton Island and No Name Hill respectively.

The pasture, under a short-term stewardship agreement, is the location of Flixton Island and No Name Hill which were indeed islands in the post-glacial palaeo-lake Flixton. This is a beautiful landscape and wildlife habitat sitting between the Yorkshire Wolds and North York Moors in an area where tourism is a major economic component. Recent excavations have proven organic preservation under surviving peat that includes a horse butchery site and several Early Mesolithic activity areas. As the project team point out, the risk is that the future owner or owners will not be sympathetic to this special archaeological resource and that, at the end of the stewardship cycle which brings in a modest annual income, agricultural practices may revert to arable, destructive activities. I do note that the archaeological assets are hardly mentioned in the PDF brochure and that only the nearby Star Carr is an archaeological scheduled area – and rapidly drying out.

Flixton-landsale

Microburin comment

Is there any hope that the partnership capabilities of charitable organisations, perhaps with sympathies from national and governmental bodies, might come together in order to purchase the land and secure it for the broader public? The Vale of Pickering is a rich natural (if managed) resource as evangelised by the likes of the Carrs Wetland Project. £550,000 is a modest sum in terms of Heritage Lottery and land management initiatives that receive support. Indeed, compare with the considerable sums raised to rescue treasure trove finds in recent years and the success of crowd-sourcing projects that enable public access to heritage, nature and learning. The Crosby Garret Roman parade helmet sold, regrettably, to a private bidder for £2.3M and yet the Tullie House Museum was able to raise £1.7M in an attempt to secure it. £0.55M seems less daunting?

StarCarrReconWould the very special habitat – and its development as a public asset – not garner the interest of the National Trust and RSPB? After all, they also bring the relevant land management expertise and oversight to conserve complex living landscapes? Is a campaign out of the question?

There is already a Vale of Pickering Trust that supports the archaeological ventures and has done so for many years – so is the coordination vehicle already there?

If only I had the savings, I’d jump at this in a second: more lottery tickets I guess!

Stop Press – Nature offers a great ROI!

Just published today by Natural England, a new report demonstrates the value for money delivered by investing in the natural environment – wetland habitats being an important one – including carbon storage, resilience to climate change, health and well-being, and attractiveness to future investment, tourism and recreation.

“The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment survey demonstrates that in 2012-13, 2.85 billion visits were made to the natural environment with expenditure totalling from £17.6 – £24.5 billion.”

Spence

Mesolithic videos updated | Firelighters

Mesolithic fire-makingRoeland Paardekooper | 07-Jun-2014 Youtube

Meso_fireSix-and-a-half minutes of Mesolithic fire-making at the archaeological open-air museum Oerlinghausen (despite there being a fire already lit behind!). Werner is using a bow-and-drill and then tinder. There is a momentary intrusion of 21st-century curiosity, but otherwise this is pleasantly atmospheric.

Certain fungi, such as horse’s hoof (Fomes fomentarius) discovered at Star Carr, could also be used as tinder and to preserve smouldering embers while on the move, although this video demonstrates how quickly a fire can be ignited with dry materials. One can confidently predict that flint and iron pyrites would also have been used to generate sparks.

Werner Pfeiffer macht Feuer, Steinzeittagen 2014, Archäologisches Freilichtmuseum Oerlinghausen www.afm-oerlinghausen.de

Spence

Chert Fishing by JR Hartley? | In search of Mesolithic raw materials in Swaledale

Gallery

This gallery contains 19 photos.

Dear Microburins, May has been an extraordinarily busy month enhanced by the onset of Spring – albeit with some rather torrential episodic rain showers (or storms). The climax of the month really had to be the Lithoscapes kick-off conference held … Continue reading

Microburin update | UK Mesolithic Sites and Finds

Dear microburins,

UK Mesolithic Projects, Sites and Finds page has been updated

FetchamAlso see Mesolithic stories on the microburin scoop.it site | Last updated 15-May-2014

Added | Fetcham, Surrey, England; Cuxton, Kent, England; Dunragit bypass, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

The latest updates are from the press and, while quite brief, continue to provide evidence for “Mesolithic everywhere”. The two most recent discoveries are developer-led commercial engagements in England and Scotland.

If you want to refer a media news story or project update, please do post a comment! The more eyes out there, the better – debitage or otherwise.

Spence

Wild Things | New book coming later this year

Wildthings2014Recently, Palaeolithic and Mesolithic archaeology has been breaking boundaries worldwide. Papers and posters presented at the Where The Wild Things Are Palaeolithic and Mesolithic conferences in Durham (2012 and 2014) reflect the latest research and discoveries.

Finds such as the Mesolithic house at Howick, the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome, and the recently discovered footprints at Happisburgh all serve to indicate how archaeologists in these fields are truly at the cutting edge of understanding humanity’s past. This volume celebrates this trend by focusing on recent advances in the study of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic.

OxbowWild Things: Recent advances in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic research [Paperback]

Frederick W. F. Foulds (Editor); Helen C. Drinkall (Editor); Angela R. Perri (Editor); David T.G. Clinnick (Editor); James W.P. Walker (Editor) | Details »

ISBN: 9781782977469 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2014 | Language: English 208p | Status: Not yet published – advance orders taken

Spence