Cup-Marked Stone From Chivelstone, South Devon, England
CUP-MARKED STONE FROM CHIVELSTONE, SOUTH DEVON, ENGLAND
farmer took the unusually-shaped stone objects brought to the surface
home and kept them safe as they were obviously of some antiquity. Subsequent
to the discovery, a friend of the farmer flew his microlight aircraft
over the field and took a photograph of a strange circular mark which
had appeared in the corn. This appears as a dark ring about 50 feet
in diameter, and may represent the site of a round barrow. The site
lies on a level coastal plateau, in a location where a distant view
of the sea can be glimpsed down a shallow valley. There is no further
evidence of barrows in the vicinity. The site's exact location is being
withheld due to concerns about treasure hunters.
project 'Rubbish and Archaeology' is an innovative project designed to
involve school children in experimental archaeology. The project was designed
for 152 school children in the Askern ward of South Yorkshire, and takes
place near the Iron Age site of Sutton Common. The initial response from
school children and their teachers, however, suggests that the project
could be replicated at many other locations.
'Rubbish and Archaeology' is essentially an experimental burial project; modern waste and archaeological replications are buried side-by-side and the change in the material over time is measured and observed. All objects are analysed prior to burial using several tests, ranging from the determination of volume, size, colour and moisture content to digital photography and microscopy. Following excavation, the same tests are applied, and the change over time will be determined. The project has a number of major benefits it required from the children the application of a range of scientific ideas and techniques, it provided the children with some insight into the creation of the archaeological record, and it links archaeological issues directly with the contemporary issue of waste disposal. It will also result in a closer involvement of local children with the archaeological work undertaken in the past and future on Sutton Common.
project was not designed as an academic exercise. Nevertheless, from
an archaeological point of view, it is anticipated that some insights
will be gained from the experiment, for example into the impact of organic
remains during the immediate post-depositional phase and the feasibility
of setting up larger-scale and longer-term experimental burial projects
in wet conditions.
Van de Noort (University of Exeter) and
research has focussed on elucidating the hierarchical social organisation
of Taino chiefdoms on the Greater Antilles. Investigations of the Lesser
Antilles have suffered by comparison; it has only recently been recognised
that prehistoric society on the Lesser Antilles was organised quite differently.
Although other Leeward islands have been investigated by Dutch (St. Eustatius,
St. Maartin, Saba), American (Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts)
and local scholars, only a rapid survey of the Nevis coastline has yet
been conducted. This identified two preceramic (c. 1500-500 BC), two Saladoid
period (c. 500 BC-AD 500) and 17 Ostionoid period (c. AD 6th-17th century)
sites located less than one kilometre inland (Wilson 1989, J. Field
Building on this preliminary survey, a one-week evaluation conducted by the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton in May 2000, with a grant from the Prehistoric Society, identified the three-site complex of GE-5, GE-6, and GE-8 at Hickman's, Fothergill Estate, Gingerland Parish as a location of particularly high potential. Through the completion of a topographical survey, excavation of four testpits, surface collection of artefactual materials, and collection of environmental samples from the test excavations and exposed sections, one new preceramic site (GE-8) was identified, and the midden settlement (GE-5) was found to be three times larger than previously thought and to contain several phases of both Saladoid and Ostionoid occupation, including evidence of house platforms and subsurface evidence of a major post-built structure. This site, in particular, was found to contain abundant ceramic and lithic materials of extraordinarily high quality, securely provenanced with well-stratified contexts, indicating a high potential for establishing a detailed chronology for all phases of occupation on the island.
Post-excavation analysis of this evaluation is currently underway. Two seasons of excavation are planned for 2001-2002 to create a framework for intensive research into the changing occupation and exploitation of Nevis as a case study contributing towards research of the wider region's prehistory. This will be conducted as a training excavation for undergraduates from the Department and students from the schools in the parish on Nevis where the sites are located.
Andrew Crosby and Elaine L. Morris
once had an English teacher at my grammar school who believed that if
one conjoined the opening two words of a book with the two closing ones,
it was possible to get an idea of what the tome was all about. Unfortunately,
one normally had to read the book from cover to cover to test this revolutionary
technique (although it might work for this article). It later
struck me as a fine analogy for much archaeological methodology, especially
given the frequent necessity of having to take the beginning and end
of an archaeological unit and then generalise about what happened in
of us congregated at Gatwick airport on the morning of Sunday 1st October.
Having arrived in Lisbon in late afternoon, we set off for the National
Museum of Archaeology to attend a special reception laid on by our Portuguese
hosts. We were shown around the various galleries in the museum, such
as the "Gold room" (unsurprisingly containing artefacts made
only from gold), and were also given the chance to annoy the cashiers
at the museum shop with our complete lack of any change. By the time of
our departure, we had emptied the tills of coins and the food table of
custard tarts (a local speciality).
The next morning saw us all up bright and early, expertly shepherded into the coach by Anne Chowne and Isabella Sjöström, our two tour managers. The drizzle which had made its presence felt on the previous evening had disappeared, and we had hot sunny weather for the remainder of our trip. We made our way eastwards from Lisbon for a couple of hours' journey to our first site: Escoural cave. It is set in a gently undulating landscape, where cork oaks and eucalyputs are grown in plantations. Cork seems to be a major crop in southern Portugal, and many trees have been harvested for their bark several times, giving them an appearance akin to inexpertly lagged heating pipes. Escoural itself is the only known cave in the region, being located inside the only limestone outcrop in an otherwise igneous landscape. It contained remains from the Middle Palaeolithic (50 ka) to the Chalcolithic (there is a small settlement on the top of the hill above the cave). Upper Palaeolithic engravings of animals and abstract designs were discovered on the cave walls in the 1960s, making it the westernmost such site in Europe. The main chamber was used as a cemetery during the Neolithic.
After having had our lunch at Anta Capela de São Brissos, a tiny chapel incorporating the stones of a dolmen, we felt suitably inspired to tackle Neolithic megaliths. The first stop was Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, a huge "skeleton" of a chambered tomb (6m-high stone uprights) connected to a long passage. The monument was on privately-owned land, as was the next one on our schedule, the Almendres cromlech, although here the narrow approach road was slightly easier for our bus to negotiate. The cromlech comprised a double-ringed stone circle joined to a double-ringed ellipse of standing stones further upslope (constructed later). Many of the stones, especially in the ellipse, carried Chalcolithic engraved designs on their surfaces, including some compared to croziers. Our arrival did not seem to disturb a group of German New-Agers, who were pre-occupied in communing with the stones.
We spent the early evening before supper wandering around the Medieval walled town of Évora, which also contained substantial Roman remains. Within 12 hours we had left town, having left the hotel at 6 am to ensure that we reached Vila Nova de Foz Côa by 3 pm (that, at least, was the official line). About two hours into this northward journey, we stopped in a village to obtain breakfast, creating a spectacle which will probably be discussed amongst the locals for many years to come. As we moved northwards, the topography of the landscape changed imperceptibly, becoming more mountainous and craggy. The cork oak plantations had disappeared, to be replaced by vineyards.
We arrived in Foz Côa on time, and were promptly split into groups of seven or eight people for transport by four-wheel drive vehicle to see the Palaeolithic engravings at Canada do Inferno. It was the first Côa valley art locality to be discovered, lying very close to where the big dam was to have been built. The pecked and deeply-incised animal outlines were clearest, as the sunlight was too intense to see much of the fine-lined ones.
For the first and only time in the trip, we were able to spend more than one night in the same place, choosing the nearby town of Moncorvo for this privilege. There were too many of us to eat (or stay) at the main hotel, so we took over most of the first floor of a local restaurant and worked our way through a wide selection of the local produce, including cheese, wine/port and almond liqueur. The ubiquitous roast pork was something of a mystery, considering we never saw a single pig during our trip.
visited the Côa valley sites of Ribeira de Piscos and Penascosa
on the following day: pecked and deeply-incised Palaeolithic images
were more common (or perhaps just more apparent) at both these sites
than fine-lined engravings. Two of the Palaeolithic occupation sites
in the Côa valley were also pointed out: Fariseu (Gravettian)
and Quinta da Cascalheira (Magdalenian). Lunch was spent at the Ervamoira
vineyard, where more attention was paid to the wine-tasting than to
the on-site museum, with its mostly Roman exhibits.
Before we left the Côa region on Thursday afternoon, we ventured out of the valley itself and onto the interfluvial plateau, where we visited a few of the 20 (and still counting) Olga Grande sites (mostly Gravettian). Dr. Thierry Aubry showed us around his current excavations, which served to set the contemporary Côa valley sites into a wider landscape context. On our southward journey to Coimbra we spent an hour or so inside the Medieval fortified town of Marialva, built to provide a defence against Spanish attack (the region adjoins the Portuguese-Spanish border).
After supper in Coimbra, a few of us travelled in to the old quarter of the city, where the oldest university in Portugal is to be found. Encouraged by Cristina Gameiro, our indispensable guide to everything Portuguese, we set off in search of evidence of beaten-up freshers and fado singing (both local traditions, apparently). Opinions were divided as to how much of either we actually encountered, but we did find a torn undergraduate coat lying on the ground in the main university precinct...
following day saw us ascending the sides of a steep and picturesque
valley near the village of Poios, to visit the Palaeolithic site of
Buraca Grande. Most of the material recovered was Middle Palaeolithic,
although some remnants from later periods (Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic
and Neolithic) had also been found. Local people used to collect organic
material from the cave for use as a fertiliser, which probably explains
the high levels of disturbance seen in many levels. On the way back
to the visitor centre in the village, we encountered two oxen drawing
a cart laden with cut maize. Draught animals were common in this village,
providing, it must be said, good insurance against any fuel crisis.
We spent the night in Tomar, staying in an exceptionally imposing hotel. The following morning, some members of our group stayed in Tomar to look at the Medieval convent and Knights Templar fortifications at the top of the hill, while the majority of us set off for the Almonda cave system. This trip involved a scramble down a limestone escarpment some 75m high, stopping at three cave entrances along the way. The first (and topmost) stop was the Galerias Pesadas site, attributed to the Acheulean, which is still being excavated by a team under the direction of Prof. Anthony Marks (Southern Methodist University, USA). Further downslope, we stopped briefly at the entrance of the Galerias de Maio (mostly re-deposited Acheulean material), before descending to the Gruta da Oliveira, which contained Middle and Upper Palaeolithic material and was still under excavation. At the bottom of the escarpment, just above where the Almonda stream now comes out of the cliff, were more recent cave openings in the cave system, containing Upper Palaeolithic and Neolithic material. According to João Zilhão, the whole cave system will need another 5-10 years of excavation and research before its succession from Lower Palaeolithic to Neolithic can be properly comprehended.
that afternoon, having regrouped and taken in the exhibits in the local
museum at Torres Vedras, we set off for the nearby Chalcolithic fortification
of Zambujal. In the literature this was a very impressive site, but much
of it now appears to be overgrown by scrub. The views are still spectacular
from the top of the ridge where the site is situated, but the latter will
make more sense to non-specialists when it has been cleaned up.
We travelled on to Lisbon as the sun set. The following morning was spent wandering around the vicinity of the National Museum of Archaeology and Belém, before everyone (including our Portuguese hosts) congregated in a local restaurant for the farewell lunch. We were afterwards rushed to the airport by our ever-reliable coach driver, Horacio, only to discover that our flight would be delayed for two hours. I finally arrived home in Cambridge at midnight, realising that the holiday was over and that work started again in nine hours' time. I had had a memorable week travelling around a largely unspoilt and archaeologically fascinating country in very pleasant company, and had thoroughly enjoyed myself.
EXCAVATION IN WILTSHIRE
The Calne dig is a good example of the benefits of 'archaeology on TV' and local involvement in a project.
in June, while work was progressing on a housing development on the north
side of Calne, Pete the site foreman realised he had something special
on his hands. Having watched Time Team with his young daughter,
he recognised that the pot which had emerged as a result of machining
was a significant item and his quick thinking enabled the County Archaeologist
to call upon a group of local volunteers to move in and recover as much
as possible in the short time available. This was at first believed to
be three or four days at most but once the developers, Beazer Homes, had
recovered from their initial and understandable trepidation they were
highly co-operative and worked around the rescue attempt for as long as
From previous searches there had been no indication that there was any archaeology on the site, hardly surprising given what was known of the local geology (thought to be clay) and past agricultural regimes one disastrous venture into arable had persuaded the owner to revert rapidly to pasture.
In the event, the site was situated on a previously unknown small outcrop of limestone brash overlooking the vale to the north of the town. In the small area available for the rapid excavation there were several pits of various depths containing material, which on preliminary examination date from 10th/9th to 6th/5th centuries, although detailed study may alter this estimate. Items include a range of animal bone, pottery, daub, charcoals, flint, fossils, pebbles, bone tools, loom weights, querns, stone rubbers, animal skulls and possibly curated items. The possibility of structured deposition is strong, though time did not allow the meticulous taking apart of the pit contents which would have been desirable to study this aspect.
The excavation also became an on the job training venture. Several of the volunteers were beginners whose first practical encounter with archaeology was to turn up with a huge desire to help. For those running the project the multiple challenges of excavating, recording, training and interfacing with a fascinated public were of no mean proportion but were also rewarding and heartening. Here there was the seed of a community project, suddenly born and without secure financial future but very much on the local agenda.
The quantity of finds and the desire to keep interest alive led to a short-notice but highly enjoyable session of finds washing and marking to celebrate National Archaeology Day. This was made possible through the assistance of the North Wiltshire Young Archaeologists Club, local volunteers and great publicity by BBC Wiltshire Sound.
The post-excavation programme is beginning to take shape. There has been a huge voluntary response but it is inevitably dogged by lack of funding. Over the next few months there will be a concerted effort to get the finds catalogued and a date range established so a preliminary report can be published.
SOCIAL RELATIONS WITH HAZELNUTS: MESO 2000, THE 6TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ON THE MESOLITHIC IN EUROPE, STOCKHOLM, SEPTEMBER 4-8, 2000
Mesolithic in Europe conference is held more or less every five
years, with the first meeting in Warsaw in 1973. More than anything,
it presents an opportunity for Mesolithic specialists from across Europe
to get together and find out what everyone else is doing. This is precisely
what happened at the 6th meeting, held in Stockholm this September.
session titles alone (exchange and communication, social relations and
group formation, territoriality and regionalisation, the colonization
process, enculturating the landscape, spatial organisation of sites,
ritual and symbolic behaviour, hunter-gatherers in transition) give
some indication of the range of subjects broached, with increasing attention
being paid to issues other than typology and relations with the environment.
British Bronze Age seems to have escaped the kinds of theoretical make-overs
that the Neolithic and Iron Age have received in recent years. As we
were mulling over this observation at the conference lunch, Andrew Fleming
suggested that the Bronze Age has been, in comparison, 'like a pudding
without a theme as Churchill might have said'. Yet the Edinburgh Forum,
attended by archaeologists and others from all over Britain, Ireland,
the Netherlands and Germany, was very much alive with new approaches,
new advances and new discoveries.
Mike Parker Pearson
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Powdermill Nature Reserve, Rector, Pennsylvania, 17th -21st October 2000.
flood-hit UK, the ease of travel we take for granted has ground or floated
to a halt recently. The travel revolution linked to horses forms just
one part of the discussion of human interaction with horses.
setting was as congenial as the company. About 35 academics from 9 different
countries had been brought together in the gloriously colourful landscape
that is rural Pennsylvania in the Fall. The symposium was warmly hosted
at the Powdermill Nature Reserve, a field research station belonging
to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The whole event had been
the brainchild of Dr. Sandra Olsen, of the Carnegie Museum, with the
intention of bringing together a wide range of academics from different
countries and different disciplines who all shared an interest in research
on horses. In so doing, it was hoped that progress could be made in
addressing several difficult issues about the evolution of human equine
relations. The importance of the horse to the development of human cultures
around the world cannot be over-stressed.
Alan K. Outram
Lithic Studies Society Conference, 8-10 September 2000, National Musenm & Gallery, Cardiff
Stone artefacts as status goods, snapshots of knapping moments and, not least, usable tools were all discussed, but unusually for this quintessentially prehistoric material, Roman Flint usage was also debated...
and participants from Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Sweden,
Switzerland, South Africa and the United States, as well as the United
Kingdom, gathered for a survey of the diverse facets of research into
human uses of flint and stone.
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2000 (Theoretical Archaeology Group): 18.12.00-20.12.00
Violence and Slavery in Prehistory and Proto-history (Prehistoric Society
Conference): 2.2.01- 3.2.01
Settlement in Ireland and Western Britain (Prehistoric Society Conference):
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