New Mesolithic Video | Imagined realities by Don Henson

New Mesolithic video by Don Henson, University of York, presented at TAG Bradford in December 2015


Henson_TAG2015Imagined realities in the portrayal and investigation of the British Mesolithic | Don Henson at TAG Braford Dec-2015 | 15-May-2016 Youtube (20min) Academic

“Fiction can be a powerful way of imagining the past. Examining how the Mesolithic has been communicated is part of my PhD research into public perceptions of the Mesolithic. The starting point for this paper is the words of novelist Margaret Elphinstone: ‘In the blank spaces between the words of archaeological narrative lie the buried kernels of all the forgotten stories‘. This paper will explore the dissonance between academic portrayals of the Mesolithic and portrayals of the period in fictional novels and short stories. I will look at the range of narrative elements presented: characters in settings carrying out actions which may be affected by external happenings.

Whereas archaeology of the Mesolithic is good at conveying settings and happenings, I will argue that it is to fiction that we must turn for an exploration of characters and actions. This in turn should deliver a better appreciation of what we should be seeking to recover through our research. We need to move beyond seeing Mesolithic people as hunter-gatherers and towards a more rounded view of them as people, and to think how we might recover aspects of life higher up Hawkes’s ladder of inference than the purely technological and economic.”

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Teaching Mesolithic | Resources for Schools

StarCarrRecon◊ Dear Microburins,

Archaeologist Don Henson at the University of York has been developing a suite of resources for teachers about Star Carr and the Mesolithic period. Here’s Don’s summary of what’s available to use—and he’s seeking feedback on the materials too.

The classroom activities have been grouped into three sets of units. Individual units can be taken from any set and taught as stand-alone activities. We are looking for teachers who would like to test these resources in the classroom and let us know what they think of them. Please contact mail@starcarr.com.

Set 1 | A skills log to develop basic archaeological skills in the classroom: finding out information, identifying things, recording objects, analysing how people lived and telling others about Star Carr.

Set 2 | A set of short stories, “11,000 Years Ago”, about the daily lives of a Mesolithic family: moving home, making things, food, friends and strangers, a hint of winter, coming of age, a new life, the bad old days, boy or girl – animals or plants?

Set 3 | Lessons from the Middle Stone Age, showing how the Mesolithic can teach useful lessons to help us both live better lives today and understand the world we live in: the origins of ourselves, change is inevitable, the living environment, human diversity, healthy eating, what makes us happy.

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Stones Tell Stories | James Dilley knaps replica teaching assemblages

◊ Dear Microburins,

The extraordinary James Dilley @ancientcraftUK is working through multi-period replica assemblages for my lithics training workshops this year, and beyond. The workshops deal with the archaeological aspects of lithic assemblages—chronological trends, research questions, technology, typology, identification, function, field archaeology best practices, analysis, recording and interpretation. The teaching materials also include other material culture associations, such as ceramics courtesy of Graham Taylor @pottedhistory and Bronze Age artefacts by Neil Burridge.

Dilley_Teaching

 

Grim_candidate JD2 Grimston_neolithic-pottery SC-Mic
Selecting the correct pottery and lithic types to illustrate typological and material culture changes through prehistory. The pottery here is early Neolithic Grimston Ware from Yorkshire (c. 3800-3500 BC) and Early Mesolithic microlith flints from Star Carr (c. 8770-8460 BC).

What’s particularly useful in the expert knapping that James is undertaking is that each of the four period-based assemblages will be near complete, or at least a representative sample of coherent reduction sequences and artefact manufacture. James is also going to intentionally break some pieces.

The Reality of Bias

In reality, in the field:

  • Recovered lithics often represent multi-period mixtures where places have been visited and revisited over time (persistent places);
  • There is variation in past human activity in space and time, from the selection and testing/rejection of raw materials, stages of reduction and tool manufacture, selective or even random events in the movement, breakage, discard, use and re-use, caching of raw materials and artefacts—we call this the chaîne opératoire;
  • There are biases in survival, including disturbed contexts, where lithics are residual (not in original context) because of later activity or natural events, including agriculture and movement in sediments;
  • There are biases in archaeological recovery, whether intentional sampling or uncontrollable factors related to the nature of the recovery techniques employed—and of course in the ability to identify a lithic and human interpretation, always subjective to a degree, of assemblages.

artisans at large

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I Love Museums | UK Campaign against yet more government cuts

ILMI Love Museums is a campaign led by the National Museum Directors’
Council to show the public support for museums.

The Campaign

Our museums are facing challenging times. Local and national governments are making tough decisions about funding, and we want to show them how much museums matter by celebrating the public support for our wonderful cultural institutions. We need you to stand up and say ‘I Love Museums’!

Whoever is to blame for the financial and banking crisis, and as we all try to recover, it is clearer than ever that our Heritage – monuments, archaeology and museums – also underpins our recovery. Our heritage assets, and the beleaguered professionals who manage them:

  • Draw tourists and footfall – make us an attractive place to visit
  • Offer a valued sense of place and well-being – for residents and business investment
  • Bring communities together – across diverse backgrounds, cultures and generations
  • Drive creative learning and education – about our past, present and future – across science, natural history, human achievement (and our foibles)

What you can do

  1. As a UK Resident, spend a minute to sign the petition
  2. Write to or email your elected representatives, Councillors, MPs and MEPs – it’s easy using this free resource (only needs your postal code)
  3. Add a twibbon to your Twitter profile picture
    Follow @ILoveMuseums
    Send a Tweet using hashtag #ILoveMuseums
    #ILoveMuseums because @ILoveMuseums

Learn more about how to spread the word »

Thank you for your support. A few minutes of your time can make a huge difference.

Spence
Archaeologist, lover of heritage and museums – and the people who make it all happen!

Council for British Archaeology Yorkshire | Journal in press

◊ Dear Microburins, CBAY_FORUM_vol3_cvr

I am delighted—and not a little relieved—to say that the third FORUM Yorkshire archaeological journal is now in press, the last under my editorship as I stand down from the Committee as Hon. Editor and Trustee this year.

“You’ve done a great job of rejuvenating the CBA Forum, and we will certainly want to provide further contributions to the journal in the future.” – Mitch Pollington, AOC Archaeology Group

Publishing this volume, pertaining to the year 2014, in May of 2015 reflects the timing and nature of fieldwork in both the commercial and community sectors, where either post-excavation analyses are still underway or where the writing up of reports, even interim summaries, usually takes place over the winter season. I suspect that this will be the ongoing rhythm for future editions, even if it means missing the opportunity to distribute copies at the CBA Yorkshire Annual General Meeting and Symposium event early in each calendar year. Such are these pressures on time, it is also difficult to build up a pipeline of future papers without those also becoming dated.

“If the next editor is half as good as you, the journal will be in safe hands.” – Ed Dennison Archaeological Services

I am particularly pleased that we are able to present papers aligned to the Communities in Action theme which we introduced last year. The cover image attests to the fantastic planning, fieldwork—and fascinated results—achieved so far in the Swaledale Big Dig, by example. While we do not have any Behind the Scenes papers this year (unfortunately the one on OASIS did not materialise), there is still an opportunity for specialists—whether in archaeological, heritage or museum practices, and their allied sciences—to offer insights into the areas of the discipline that might not otherwise be well understood.

Appreciation

CBAY_Symposium01Once again, I remain indebted to the authors for their time, enthusiasm and tolerance—both those whose papers appear in this volume and those who have promised papers for the next edition. Above all, I am grateful to the CBA Yorkshire Committee and Trustees for their wonderful support over these last three years. It has been a privilege for me, thank you. I will be working with the new editor on a smooth transition and to make last year’s FORUM Yorkshire Volume 2 available as free-to-download, fully open-access, on our website (PDF format and e-magazine style).

Interested in Yorkshire Archaeology?

Why not think about joining CBA Yorkshire, run entirely by volunteers, for the benefit of those interested in the welfare and better understanding of Yorkshire’s historic environment? It aims to encourage and promote greater public knowledge and involvement, and where possible to advance and assist relevant research—ARCHAEOLOGY FOR ALL.

There are also a number of positions available on the Committee, which meets in York four times each year. We are particularly looking for a Web & Social Media officer and Education officer, amongst other roles.

Spence

Symposium image courtesy of Eric Houlder.

Schools Prehistory | Museums displaying prehistoric artefacts

◊ Dear Microburins,

My friend Kim Biddulph at Schools Prehistory is compiling a list of museums whose displays (and resources for children) include items from the Stone Age to Iron Age. I’ve sent details of some North Yorkshire and North-east museums not currently on the list:

  • Ryedale_IAhut2Palace Green Library, Durham City
    A new gallery tells the 10,000 year story of Durham from the ice age to modern times.
  • Museum of Hartlepool, Jackson Dock, Hartlepool
  • Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire
    Displays Include antiquarian flints and stone axes, extra-ordinary finds from the “Windy Pits” and a waterlogged Iron Age Settlement. There’s a fantastic reconstructed Iron Age round house and some rare breed livestock.
  • Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Borough Road, Sunderland
  • Swaledale Museum, Reeth, North Yorkshire OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    This small yet fascinating museum includes stone age flint and chert tools dating back to the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods (Tim Laurie collection).
  • Wensleydale, Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes, North Yorkshire
    Includes flint tools that likely date back to the late Glacial Upper Palaeolithic (13,000 years ago) discovered in Wensleydale (Tim Laurie collection).
  • Whitby Museum and Art Gallery, Pannet Park, Whitby, North Yorkshire Fylingdales
    The museum is an amazing place to visit and still retains its eclectic Victorian “collectors” atmosphere. There are stone age flint tools as well as Bronze Age pottery and bronze artefacts. A replica of the decorated Neolithic stone discovered after fires on Fylingdales Moor sits alongside finds excavated in the early 20th century at Roman signal towers along the Yorkshire coast.

Neolithic stone from Fylingdales Moor | Credit: Graham Lee, North York Moors National Park Authority.

If you have other suggestions (and you can include images with permissions), please contact Kim and the team using the form on this web page »

About Schools Prehistory

Schools Prehistory was set up in 2013 by a group of archaeologists and educators to help teachers and heritage educators get ready for the prehistory element of the new primary history curriculum at Key Stage 2 in England. They are available for consultancy, to run training or workshops in schools and museums. They also sell information booklets designed for the non-specialist on their website—more lesson plans and supporting resources will be coming soon. They are also developing good quality replica object-handling boxes for sale. Keep up to date with what’s happening on their blog »

  • Read about the introduction of prehistory into the English national curriculum in Kim’s article published in the Teesside Archaeological Society BULLETIN 19 (2014–15, pp 37–41) » PDF extract

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