Two rants for the price of one | Narrow blades, Heritage at risk and Pledges

◊ Dear Microburins,

2016-10-01_crathes4bHere are a couple of ranty reads with mentions of the Mesolithic.

First is another great post from Caroline Wickham-Jones on her Mesolithic archaeology blog. Caroline (pictured) eloquently expounds some of the problems with typology-based dating.

“It is important to remember that type fossils are a tool that speaks to us, rather than one that we should force to fit in. We need to look at our finds and think carefully about what they might mean.”

hom_archaeoSecond up is an article I wrote for the Hands on Middlesbrough heritage campaigning group challenging the alleged suggestion, made in 2012, “that Middlesbrough has no archaeology”. Middlesbrough and its neighbouring boroughs, and Teesside overall, have an amazing portfolio of over 10,000 years of archaeology and built heritage! I offer some tips — against the value of heritage, the historic and archaeological environments — for easy steps to take in championing our shared past. A recommended reading list, much available online, and links to related resources are included at the end of the article.

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UK & Ireland Mesolithic Sites and Finds Update | Hermitage, Co Limerick

Europe’s Oldest Polished Axe?hermitage_axe-jpg__800x600_q85_cropHermitage, Co Limerick, Rep Ireland | Mesolithic cremation cemetery

  • Earliest polished axe (decomissioned? Mesolithic)
    “The cremation too, which requires a fire between 645 and 1,200 degrees would have also required some know-how and experience, Little tells Gartland. In fact, she says whoever prepared the grave took painstaking effort to pick up every tiny fragment of bone to put in the burial.”
    Smithsonian.com (09-Nov 2016) »
  • More Sites & Finds in the media »

Image | © University of York.

Living Mesolithic Project | Evocative images of life in 5000 BC

◊ Living Mesolithic Project | Frank Wiersema Photography with Chris Pallasch at Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in Albersdorf | 2015 Facebook (Images & video) Experimental archaeology

Mesolithic_FrankWiersema1In the summers of 2015-16 the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in Albersdorf (Germany) organized a Stone Age Living Project in the area of the newly built 2014 “Mesolithic Settlement” site, in the form of both an educational programme and as an experiment. The activities and outputs (used tools and established structures) were scientifically documented by archaeologists from the Archaeological Department of the University of Exeter, England, as partner of the OpenArch-project. The scientific results will be published by Exeter, the detailed documentation will be published by the Stone Age Park in form of a magazine and a brochure.

Mesolithic_FrankWiersema2The aim of the project was to reconstruct the everyday life of hunter-gatherers of Mesolithic Northern Europe around 5000 BC by doing an authentic as possible life experiment with skilled re-enactors and experimental archaeologists, in order to gain a new type of insight of how life might have been at that time.

Images © Frank Wiersema

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Mesolithic Deeside, Aberdeenshire | 30-Sep – 01-Oct 2016

◊ Dear Microburins

2016_DeessideI’m hoping to attend this event — hopefully see some of you there? More info »

Horsemill, Crathes Castle AB31 5QJ | 30 September – 01 October 2016

  • 30 September 7pm Caroline Wickham-Jones – talk: Mesolithic Deeside
  • Saturday 1 October 11am Shannon Fraser – talk: Crathes Castle Mesolithic pit alignment
    1pm and 3pm Heather Sabnis – talk: Discovering Mesolithic Crathes
  • All day – Flint sessions – handle flints from the Mesolithic Deeside sites and talk to archaeologists, plus events for children
    Outdoor events by Brian Wilkinson 10am-4pm

Useful links

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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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