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The Cove, Avebury
©
Moss
 
This year Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site is celebrating 30 years since its inscription on to the World Heritage list in 1986. A number of events are taking place throughout this year.
 
The Stonehenge and Avebury WHS Coordination Unit, with the support of their partners, is holding a 30th anniversary conference on 19 and 20 November 2016 to celebrate the many aspects of the World Heritage Site and the gains made over the past 30 years.
 
On Saturday 19 November in the Ceres Hall, the Corn Exchange, Devizes [England], a number of speakers including Dr Serge Cassen (University of Nantes), Dr Alison Sheridan (National Museums of Scotland), Dr Heather Sebire (English Heritage), Prof Tim Darvill (University of Bournemouth), Dr Josh Pollard (University of Southampton), Prof Vince Gaffney(University of Bradford) will be joining us to examine developments in conservation, changes in our knowledge through research and archaeology, the impact on culture and how Stonehenge fits into the European and British culture at that time.
 
More here.

Can Detectorists be Archaeologists? News by Roy Goutté of an upcoming conference.

The author ‘sweeping’ the line of a long lost track-way
Image credit and © Roy Goutté

 

On the 21st November 2016, PAS (Portable Antiquities Scheme) are staging a conference at the Museum of London. It is headed ‘Can Detectorists Be Archaeologists?’ and features many speakers during the day.

Nowadays most archaeologists recognise that responsible metal-detecting has a role to play in archaeology, though there remain concerns about the (seemingly) haphazard searching techniques employed by most finders. This conference explores the various ways in which detectorists (working alone or with archaeologists) have undertaken archaeological fieldwork, and looks to a future of further cooperation for the benefit of archaeology and public interest in the past… Dr Michael Lewis (British Museum).

As a detectorists myself and an amateur archaeologist that has worked with qualified archaeologists where my detector was called upon, this promises to be a very interesting series of talks. Any form of education, as long as it is a balanced appraisal of the subject, is most welcome as irresponsible detecting without giving thought to the archaeology is without doubt a serious matter and hopefully will be discussed at length.

There are two types of detectorists apart from the many thousands out there that, in my opinion, are irresponsible in respect of their lack of concern for our heritage and unseen archaeology. One is the blatant ‘night-hawk’ who purposely sets out to steal artefacts from areas of known ‘hot-spots’ and the other is the genuine beginner/casual user of a detector who seem totally unaware that they could be damaging the archaeology as they have not followed the Metal Detector Code because, on the whole, they are not recognised metal detector club members. As a member they would have been well versed in the rights and wrongs of metal detecting.

This doesn’t make the latter a bad bunch – just an uninformed one that are venturing out for a day’s enjoyable and relaxing detecting with thoughts of finding the odd coin/ring/watch on a beach or local scrub land. They are by far the majority – the ones that have a day out occasionally and not the day in day out detectorists.

To return to the subject matter – Can Detectorists Be Archaeologist? – well of course they can, just as well as anyone else if they are interested in the subject… which undoubtedly some will be of course. If they used their obvious knowledge of our heritage for the good and not just for personal gain as a night-hawk would, then fine. But let’s be quite clear on this – the major hoards and finds in the UK are being made by your bog standard detectorists who report their finds and not night-hawks who don’t and in places not generally being looked at by archaeologists because that is not in their remit.

Another heritage website doesn’t seem to allow for this and offers no credit to the ‘good guys’ seeing the majority of all detectorists as stealing our heritage and the vast number of them not declaring their finds. So where do they think all the hoards and other antiquities found came from if not reported – out of fresh air! The dark or negative side is always highlighted by them and virtually no credit given to the huge amount of detectorists out there doing the right thing! They need to wise-up and smell the roses!

However, not wishing to linger on this negative side, I believe this conference is perfectly timed by PAS and should open up a few eyes and minds with the range of the talks they are encompassing at the event and the quality of the speakers enlisted for it. I hope it is well attended and appreciated by a level-headed audience and hopefully gives the naysayers something that will pacify them a little – but don’t hold your breath!

Here are some more details and the table and time of events:

Can Detectorists Be Archaeologists?

Portable Antiquities Scheme Conference – Weston Theatre, Museum of London. Monday 21st November 2016. 10am – 5pm.

10:00 Roy Stephenson (Museum of London): Welcome
10:10 Dr Michael Lewis (British Museum) & Dr Pieterjan Deckers (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): Working Together.
10:30 Dr Felicity Winkley (University College London): A Font of Local Knowledge: Metal-detectorists and landscape archaeology.
11:00 Dr Phil Harding (metal-detectorist and self-recorder): Metal-detecting in Leicestershire: Insights from detailed recording.
11:30 David Haldenby (metal-detectorist from Yorkshire): Detecting the Landscape.
12:00 Lindsey Bedford (erstwhile metal-detectorist): Detecting a Path into Archaeology.
12:30 Lunch (not provided).
14:00 Faye Minter (Suffolk County Council): The Use of Systematic Metal detecting in Suffolk as an Archaeological Survey Technique.
14:30 Carl Chapness (Oxford Archaeology): Metal-detecting and Archaeology.
15:00 Samantha Rowe (University of Huddersfield) Archaeology of the plough-zone.
15:30 John Maloney (National Council for Metal Detecting) The Future of archaeology and metal-detecting.
16:00 Dr Mike Heyworth (Council for British Archaeology) The Future of archaeology and metal-detecting: Building or burning bridges?
16:30 Finish.

Worth noting that there will be no refreshments provided. If, like many others, you are contemplating taking up this wonderful hobby, the following link to a very informative Beginners Guide to metal detecting is a real must. Check it out!

 

 
 
The Staffordshire Hoard
©
Birmingham Museums Trust
 
The Art Fund has announced that –
 
Although all Treasure Plus funding has now been awarded, we’re running a conference in October 2015 to support curators working with archaeological collections. The aims of this fully funded conference are to share best practice, discuss solutions for common challenges with other curators and sector experts, and to network with colleagues. Specialist and non-specialist curators and other museum professionals working with archaeology collections are all welcome.
 
Details:
 
Tuesday, 13 October 10am to 4pm (with a drinks reception and extended access to the Staffordshire Hoard Gallery until 6pm. Thinktank, Birmingham. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Places are fully funded, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, with priority given to curators working in UK public collections.
 
The conference will be held at Thinktank, but Birmingham Museums Trust has kindly offered to extend the opening hours for the Staffordshire Hoard Galleries for conference attendees. In addition, a limited number of participants will be able to take part in a tour of the conservation studio, where items from the Hoard (pictured) are still being conserved. Transport from Thinktank to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be arranged by the Art Fund.
 
More here.
  
 
The XIX International Rock Art Conference IFRAO 2015
Symbols in the Landscape: Rock Art and its Context
 
The University of Extremadura, the Institute of Prehistoric Studies (ACINEP) and the Patrimonio & ARTE and CUPARQ (Culture, Heritage and Archaeology) research groups are pleased to invite researchers, specialists, lecturers, curators, managers, cultural heritage professionals and all those interested to the XIX International Conference of the International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (IFRAO), which takes place from 31 August to 4 September 2015 in the city of Cáceres (Extremadura, Spain).
 
Cáceres is a charming historic-artistic city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the autonomous community of Extremadura. The surroundings, on the Iberian Peninsula’s west, are a fortunate part of southwestern Europe where paintings and engravings of the main artistic cycles of the area’s prehistory and protohistory, from the Palaeolithic to the Iron age, have been preserved. An abundance of shelters with schematic paintings in a series of exceptionally well-preserved natural spaces are of particular interest. In this setting, with hospitality characteristic of our country’s people, we shall provide the appropriate atmosphere to encourage the study and reflection on some truly universal symbolic creations existing through the ages and in virtually every corner of the planet.
 
Details here.
   
 
The Hurlers Stone Circle. The Cheesewring formation is just visible on the skyline
©
The Heritage Trust
 
The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) wound up the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting yesterday (26 June 2014) in Portsmouth, England. The meeting was held jointly at Guildhall and the University of Portsmouth Park and King Henry Buildings, and was sponsored by the RAS, STFC, SEPnet and Winton Capital. Of interest to archaeologists and researchers of prehistoric monuments was a discussion of –
 
…a developing field of research that merges astronomical techniques with the study of ancient man-made features and the surrounding landscapes… From the ‘Crystal Pathway’ that links stone circles on Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor to star-aligned megaliths in central Portugal, archaeo-astronomers are finding evidence that Neolithic and Bronze Age people were acute observers of the Sun, as well as the Moon and stars, and that they embedded astronomical references within their local landscapes.
 
“There’s more to archaeo-astronomy than Stonehenge,” says Dr Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University, who [presented] updates on his work on the 4000-year-old astronomically aligned standing stone at Gardom’s Edge in the UK’s Peak District. “Modern archaeo-astronomy encompasses many other research areas such as anthropology, ethno-astronomy and even educational research. It has stepped away from its speculative beginnings and placed itself solidly onto the foundation of statistical methods.  However, this pure scientific approach has its own challenges that need to be overcome by embracing humanistic influences and putting the research into context with local cultures and landscape.”
 
 
The Crystal Pavement during excavation last year showing the original reddish ground surface beyond it
©
Roy Goutté
 
Brian Sheen and Gary Cutts of the Roseland Observatory have worked together with Jacky Nowakowski, of Cornwall Council’s Historic Environment Service, to explore an important Bronze Age astro-landscape extending over several square miles on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. At its heart lie Britain’s only triple stone circles, The Hurlers, of which two are linked by the 4000-year-old granite pavement, dubbed the Crystal Pathway. The team has confirmed that Bronze Age inhabitants used a calendar controlled by the movements of the Sun. The four cardinal points are marked together with the solstices and equinoxes.
 
 
The Pipers
©
The Heritage Trust
 
“The Pipers are standing stone outliers to the main circles. When standing between the stones, one to the right and the other to the left, one looks north & south; when lining both up, one faces east & west,” says Sheen.  “We also think the three circles that comprise The Hurlers monument may be laid out on the ground to resemble Orion’s Belt. Far from being three isolated circles on the moor they are linked into one landscape.”
 
Read the full Royal Astronomical Society’s press release here. See also our earlier feature, The Hurlers: Mapping the Sun event and the ‘Crystal’ Pavement. Update 2 by Roy Goutté here.
   
 
 
Top: dish with a Hare and Moon motif (1690-1730). Porcelain with a cobalt under glaze
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Art and Cultures has released news of a conference entitled Museums in the Digital Age: Case Studies in the Digitisation of Japanese Cultural Artefacts.
 
The rapid advance of digital technologies allows museums to make use of them in creative ways to help in developing their individual research and educational missions. The Art Research Center (ARC), Ritsumeikan University, was one of the first institutions to explore the potential and develop digital technologies in a humanities-based academic context. The ARC has been in the forefront in realizing the concept of the Digital Humanities. Early on the ARC established a fruitful collaboration with the Japanese Section, Department of Asia, at the British Museum, to jointly pursue of these goals. This conference will explore the ways in which the ARC and the British Museum, can build on their past successes and further develop a wide range of collaborations that will engage digital technologies to the fullest.
 
The conference will be held on 1 March 2014 from 9:30am – 5:00pm in the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Rooms, the British Museum, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG. Further information here and here (pdf).
  
 
The Carn Wnda earthfast tomb, Pembrokeshire Wales
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Digital Past 2014
New technologies in heritage, interpretation and outreach.
 
Heritage of Wales News has announced that –
 
Digital Past is a two-day conference showcasing innovative digital technologies for data capture, interpretation and dissemination of heritage sites and artefacts. Running for the sixth year, Digital Past 2014 will be set in the seaside town of Llandudno, and offers a combination of papers, seminars and handson workshops and demonstrations to investigate the latest technical survey and interpretation techniques and their practical application in heritage interpretation, education and conservation.
 
The conference will be of value to anyone working in or studying the archaeological, heritage, education and museums sectors, and is designed to allow informal networking and exchange of ideas within a friendly and diverse audience made up of individuals from commercial, public and third-sector organisations. Open House sessions will also give the opportunity for display and demonstration of projects or products, and the chance to talk to heritage organisations, product developers and retailers.
 
 
Venue: 12-13 February 2014 at St George’s Hotel, Llandudno, North Wales. Details here.
   

The 2010 excavation of a Roman site showing one of two trenches in a water meadow below Silbury
©
The Heritage trust

A conference exploring recent archaeological work in Wiltshire will be held at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum from 9:30am on Saturday, 16 March 2013. The conference is organised by the Archaeology Field Group of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.

The conference fee is £25 and includes refreshments and lunch. Details here.

 

 

Logo for the 2012 Fifth World Conference of the Society for East Asian Archaeology held in Fukuoka, Japan

The Society for East Asian Archaeology (SEAA) is a non-government organization formed to further promote interest and research in the field of East Asian Archaeology through the sharing of information on ongoing projects, encouraging premier quality research, international and interdisciplinary communications, providing publishing opportunities through an online bulletin and the support of an academic journal, holding academic meetings and conferences, providing educational outreach to the general community, enhancing scholarly communications and good relations among archaeologists within East Asia, and encouraging interdisciplinary perspectives involving several regions.

SEAA’s last conference was held in Fukuoka, Japan in June of this year. The Society’s next conference will be held in Mongolia in 2014.

 

 
The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China
 
The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is hosting an exhibition entitled The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China from the 5 May to the 11 November 2012.
 
Featuring over 350 treasures in jade, gold, silver, bronze and earthenware, The Search for Immortality takes you into the 2000 year-old tombs of Han Dynasty China, revealing an epic story of lust for power both in life and death.
 
The Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220) founded unified rule in China but to maintain their vast territory they endured constant struggles for supremacy, both within the empire and from without. In a world first, see the tomb finds of two rival power factions: the Han royal family and the Kingdom of Nanyue in southern China.
 
Both seeking control of the southern lands, their rivalry continued to the afterlife in tomb palaces of incredible wealth.  See the treasures that proclaimed their power and discover how they aspired to eternal life.
 
A part of the London 2012 Festival, this is one of the most important exhibitions of ancient royal treasures ever to travel outside China.
 
More here.
 
 

 

UNESCO proposes to organize an international conference from 26 to 28 September 2012 in Vancouver (BC) Canada, to explore the main issues affecting the preservation of digital documentary heritage, in order to develop strategies that will contribute to greater protection of digital assets and help to define an implementation methodology that is appropriate for developing countries, in particular.

The conference will bring together professionals from the heritage sectors, as well as a range of government, IT industry, rightsholders and other stakeholders to assess current policies in order to propose practical recommendations to ensure permanent access to digital documentary heritage.

Although knowledge is today primarily created and accessed through digital media, it is highly ephemeral and its disappearance could lead to the impoverishment of humanity. Despite the adoption of the UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage in 2003, there is still insufficient awareness of the risks of loss of digital heritage.

Digital information has economic value as a cultural product and as a source of knowledge. It plays a major role in national sustainable development as, increasingly, personal, governmental and commercial information is created in digital form only. But digitized national assets also constitute an immense wealth of the countries concerned and of society at large. The disappearance of this heritage will engender economic and cultural impoverishment and hamper the advancement of knowledge.

More here.

The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works will be holding a panel discussion on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 focusing on the problem of the preservation of world archaeological heritage in a time of climate change –

Global weather patterns are changing and with these changes come significant threats to the preservation of world archaeological heritage. An increasing number of coastal sites are vulnerable to inundation and ruin by rising sea levels. And as temperatures rise in some parts of the world those archaeological remains which have laid frozen in the permafrost, in a state of spectacular preservation, are beginning to thaw…and rot. The need to raise awareness of how global climate change is affecting archaeological heritage is clear and the timeframe left to us to address this challenge is growing ever shorter. From Easter Island to the Altai Mountains, archaeological sites are increasingly at risk due to changing weather patterns and climate shifts.

Following from the IIC 2008 Dialogue on Climate Change and Conservation, this panel discussion will focus on specific case studies and their relationship to the broader challenges being faced by the preservation community in a world of shifting climates.

Venue:

Centre for Sustainable Heritage Administrator
Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
University College London
Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
London WC1H 0NN

On Wednesday, 18 January 2012 from 7:00pm.

More here.

Diver with a Greek amphora. Image credit Big Blue Tech

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 estimated prehistoric sites lying on the bottom of the Baltic? Or that 3 million ancient shipwrecks are estimated to lie on the seabed? Have you ever supposed that more than 150 sunken cities and ruined sites are located under water in the Mediterranean, including the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the World? Or that artefacts recovered from the sea have been dated back 300,000 years!

Source UNESCO.

The seabed holds a wealth of archaeological information yet, …these sites and the stories of human history that they tell are in danger. Pillaging, salvaging, oil-exploration and drilling, shore-front development and construction are just a few of the threats facing this remarkable heritage.

Source Archaeology News Network.

To help the public enjoy our underwater heritage, UNESCO will be organising an evening event on 12 December at 7 pm in the Free University, Brussels. Following the event, and to mark the tenth anniversary of UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection of Underwater Heritage, there will be a meeting of experts at the Belgian Royal Library in Brussels from 13 to 14 December.

 

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