Yorkshire 9000BC | Fly around Mesolithic Lake Flixton : experience the sounds

Hello Microburins,

Yorkshire9000BC_VimeoHere’s a great short video fly-through the Mesolithic landscape of Lake Flixton, Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, England. Ongoing excavations at Star Carr and Flixton Island are the current manifestation of research since the 1950s. This CGI video incorporates  recordings of what the the post-glacial landscape may have sounded like 11,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers shared their environment with wild ox, bears, beavers, horses, boar, wolves and a hazelnut or two.

“The model is based on pollen cores and archaeological excavations (including the currently active ones). It was created for the Yorkshire Museum’s new ‘Prehistoric Yorkshire’ exhibition in partnership with members of the Star Carr Project at the University of York Department of Archaeology. Sound design is by Jon Hughes.”

Watch and listen now (1m 35s, silent intro) »

Related stuff

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Open Exclusion | The Personal Open Access Experience

Updated | 6-Jun-2013 to add LSE blog link
Updated | 7-Jun-2013 to add “blogs as scholarly publication” link

The issue of open access is a boiling pot of frustration (cost) and anxiety (ethics and legality).

open-accessFor independent researchers, like myself, whether previously in academia and/or aspiring to be enrolled, or for community practitioners (I loath the term “amateur archaeologist“) or for members of the public where even access to public libraries is becoming an increasing luxury (if that library has access at all to academic journals, print or online)—open access is a friction point.

While governments, UK and Federal US included, are grappling with and legislating for open access to learned materials, funded by or as a part of publicly financed research, the incumbent publishing monopolies are lobbying to parry such initiatives based on “sustainable cost” doctrines, and their financial interests therein.

Personal Experience

I can certainly vouch for the pain, being outside academia right now, that pay-wall “open access” causes. I subscribe to the few e-publishers and academic societies that I can afford—a gradually diminishing number since I don’t presently have a regular income stream. I am grateful, as a university alumnus, in having access to JSTOR, although in archaeology the titles which are freely accessible are far from comprehensive, especially for fields like Mesolithic archaeology—a discipline that also spans many specialisations in science and social science, the humanities, cultural heritage management (CRM) and derivative disciplines. I am even more grateful for the “green” and (very rare) “gold” open access vehicles that allow me either time-delayed or immediate access to scholarly material.

Implications

One thing is certain: I will likely be several steps behind those lucky enough to be within formal education or post-doc (yet paying excruciating tuition fees for the pleasure). Open exclusion is part of the reason. That feels neither fair nor productive—the public are an equal and obligatory participant, a partner in our shared heritage, moreso in the evolution and management of our shared environment, the collective owners of our cultural assets? The public are not a simple “consumer bucket” happy to receive amorphous outputs or media sound-bites. Exclusivity and access-by-means are surely forms of cynical discrimination unworthy of our societies, not least those that espouse a lifetime education and education-for-all ethos? Aren’t these educational aspirations also being subjugated to a market-driven “economic return” mandate, naive in its focus on immediacy and therefore myopic in leveraging the true meaning of past, place, presence, well-being and footfall for healthier (and less welfare-costly, more inclusive, more sustainable, more attractive) communities?

Example

And yet, if I were to subscribe to the venerable Journal of Archaeological Science (publisher: Elsevier), by example, it would be beyond my budget (online access is a 5-user license). They are a respected and profuse publisher. If I were to pay-to-download every article they publish across monthly volumes in a given year, I would have to pay over $11,000 (obviously far more than the individual subscription, but it does illustrate my point around reasonable cost—many papers are only six or so pages). Something is amiss?

Returns

Any law of diminishing returns suggests a tipping-point between over-pricing in any given marketplace and realising income streams as a function of volume-based consumer viability—if not “popular” demand. I really don’t mind paying a few dollars/euros/pounds for a worthy, scholarly and life-changing article. I do, however, resent paying $31.50 per article or a mandate to cluster papers into discounted blocks that are still priced beyond my means.

Please read THESE blogs

These excellently written blogs go a long way to explaining both the terminology as well as the seemingly intractable issues that are not without tragedy. I highly recommend reading them. There are plenty more too.

» Sustainability at Any Price is not Sustainable: Open Access and Archaeology
By: Eric Kansa, UC Berkeley and OpenContext.org

» Academics and universities must continue to develop open access alternatives to break the monopoly of large publishers
By: Ann McKechin MP (LSE blog)

» Blogs as scholarly publication: “Taking a Chance: My Blog is a Publication”
By: Katy Meyers (2011) Bones Don’t Lie (blog), Michigan State University | The comments are also supportive and interesting

And now think about how YOU are and will be affected, how you will respond, what you will say, how you will canvass for a fairer outcome, what you will do.

Acknowledgements

Prof Julian D Richards (University of York) for posting it on Twitter today. York is also home of the Archaeological Data Service (ADS) who work continuously to digitise archaeological resources for the greater good. The authors of the ASOR blog need to be congratulated for a well-written and well-appraised status quo and portent for some difficult battles ahead.

Microburin

After the Ice | Major Star Carr exhibition opens at Yorkshire Museum | Mesolithic

Updated 24 May 2013

Star Carr new excavations 2010Coinciding with the publication of a new popular book, the Yorkshire Museum is hosting a major exhibition of artefacts and interpretations of the UK’s most famous and finds-rich Mesolithic landscape at Star Carr in Yorkshire, England. The exhibition is open from 24 May 2013 for a year and is widely covered in the archaeological and regional media.

Bringing together the artefacts previously scattered across many museums and repositories since Clark’s excavations in the 1950s, the exhibition aims to present the most recent investigations in context—the landscape, the re-colonisation of Britain (or expansion of the late Glacial “epi-Palaeolithic” long-blade communities such as those at Creswell Crags in Derbyshire), the environmental transformations, human beliefs, behaviours, mobility and the material culture that give hints to a complex hunter-gatherer-fisher society. These were modern humans, just like us.

On Thu 30 May 8pm there will also be a UK television Time Team special on Star Carr (Channel 4).

Acid Attack

IMG_4349Current archaeological research and interventions in the eastern Vale of Pickering, recently under the leadership of York and Manchester Universities, acknowledge the very short remaining lifespan of previously waterlogged organic remains. What were hard, crisp and tangible testaments to Mesolithic lifestyles—barbed points, supposed “head-dresses”, the working of antler, bone and wood, shale beads, birch rolls and more—are now feeble ghosts of their former selves, if they survive at all in the peat. Drainage and agricultural activities have desiccated and acidified the waterlogged matrix: it often has the pH of stomach acid today.

Image | Star Carr excavations 2010 (Microburin)

Where did they go?

StarCarrReconOn the other hand, fieldwork since the 1980s and more recently has proven that Star Carr and the Early Mesolithic lakeside activity areas were far more extensive than previously thought, at around 9000 cal BC. Hoof prints from undomesticated horses have been discovered on Flixton Island—perhaps their last stand? Mobility across a forested, watery landscape becomes apparent by looking at the lithic (flint) distribution and operational chains, from sourcing the raw material, knapping reduction strategies, caching-curation, re-usage and discard behaviours. There’s also now evidence for structures* of some sort and repeated returns to the area over generations. Unlike corollaries in southern Scandinavia, linked by Doggerland across what is now the North Sea, only human burials remain entirely elusive at Star Carr—for now.

*Conneller, C. et al. 2012. Substantial settlement in the European Early Mesolithic: new research at Star Carr. ANTIQUITY 86 (334), 1004-1020.

Click to viewIf not left to the elements, perhaps the dead were deposited in the lake, or on islands now denuded, or far “offshore”? Watery places retained significance throughout the prehistoric period—were the many barbed points deposited rather than discarded? Do we even know what we are looking for? Within a few thousand years the North Sea inundation separated Britain from Europe, and a rather different material culture evolved—the so called Late Mesolithic. One can argue for evolution or revolution, but much more research and dating is needed from the post glacial into the Neolithic where communities with very different life-strategies may have co-existed (northern European evidence hints at this).

The exhibition is a once-in-a-generation chance to see the most comprehensive and intimate story about our earliest post-glacial ancestors. People just like us, and yet so different. Or perhaps not? How many of our “instinctive” behaviours today bear testament to our hunter-gatherer-fisher past? Maybe we just live longer and refined the BBQ experience? I promise a review when I have seen it.

Archives

Also coinciding with the exhibition, the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) in York have published the online Star Carr Archive, funded by English Heritage, “with the primary aims of locating and cataloguing as many of the finds and excavation records as possible in order to enable further research”.

“Moore’s paper archive is missing. There is no known paper archive from Clark’s excavations and it is thought that all records must have been destroyed once the monograph (Clark 1954) had been published.”

Inevitably over the last 60 years, and more so with the separation of many of the written records, artefacts and ecofacts, some materials have been lost or misplaced. This initiative identifies, records and consolidates what remains into a single report.

Recent Press Coverage

Image top | Courtesy University of York

Star Carr Project Lecture | Prof Nicky Milner | Stockton Library : Tue 30 Oct 7.15pm

StarCarrProf Nicky Milner of the University of York will present Recent Mesolithic Discoveries in North-east England, details of the Star Carr Project research design and the latest discoveries from Flixton Island in the Vale of Pickering after a successful excavation season this year.

Star Carr is an internationally important Early Mesolithic site near Flixton, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The site was first discovered and excavated from 1948-1952, producing a staggering array of rare and important artefacts, the quantity and quality of which have not been matched since in Europe. Recent excavations revealed further important evidence: the discovery of a structure gained global media coverage as the ‘oldest house in Britain'; and a 30m wooden platform represents the earliest evidence of systematic carpentry in Europe. This talk will highlight the discoveries made in both the past and present research projects, and will outline the aspirations for the coming years.

StarCarrBookletThe lecture is hosted by Teesside Archaeological Society at Stockton-on-Tees Central Library TS18 1TU (NE England). Guests are welcome for £3 each on the door. Refreshments are available afterwards. For directions and more information read the latest TAS newsletter.

This is also a chance to purchase The Story of Star Carr booklet after the lecture for £2.50. Proceeds contribute to ongoing research, fieldwork and post-excavation finds conservation. Find out more about Star Carr | www.starcarr.com

Love the rich, distinctive heritage of north-east England

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