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Another Quick (Neolithic) Update….

7 Jun

I haven’t updated as much as I would have liked recently for a variety of reasons, mainly due to a recent glut of essays, but I’d thought I’d add this quickly.

In my About page, I mention that two of my primary interests within archaeology are the Mesolithic and proceeding Neolithic periods, yet I’ve not wrote much about them on this blog.  However this will change (eventually), but as I have now attended the frankly excellent First Farmers conference at the University of Cardiff (see my post here about it), I’d thought I’d report that there has been some further developments concerning the main thrust of the conference.  The Linearbandkeramik culture, Central Europe’s first Neolithic Farmers (5500BC to around 4800BC), were the main topic of the talks and presentations given in Cardiff, and a recent paper by some of the organisers and presenters at the conference (Bentley et al 2012-see link below), have published the preliminary results from a large isotopic research project as a part of this.

The article is well worth a read, and concerns patterns of patrilocality, kinship and status based on the migration of female and male adults from the LBK culture, gathered from the archaeological evidence and the use of strontium isotopes gathered from human remains.  I want to draw your attention to two recently written blog entries concerning the paper.  Firstly we have Katy Meyers post at her blog ‘Bones Don’t Lie’ here, and her entry dated to the 1st of June entitled ‘The Earliest Evidence of Status Differentiation’.  Secondly, we have Rosamary Joyce’s blog, ‘Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives‘, and her entry concerning the article which is entitled ‘Men, Women and Neolithic Equality‘.

Both of these blog entries take two different approaches in evaluating the article, and it is interesting to note both pick up on different themes.  Katy’ post deals with the interesting revelations of social status and differentiation as taken from the archaeological artefacts (mainly shoe last adzes), and evidence of adult female migration. The paper by Bentley et al (2012) makes note that it was possible that farmed land was passed down via adult males from the same family, and suggest differential land use, as  practiced by the LBK.  Joyce’s article makes the point that there are several sites and individuals that do not fit the overall model that the authors propose, alongside comments of how anthropological thought is always processed through a prism of its own history.

Perhaps a salient point to consider is a remark made by Dr Guido Brandt at the Cardiff conference in the consideration of the fact that we can always do with more bioarchaeological samples, including both human and animal bone, to gather a bigger data set as archaeological possible.  We must also always define isotopic parameters, from the geology, geography,  foods used and procured, and human and faunal data.  A point was made at the conference that over 6000 LBK sites have so far been uncovered and identified in Central European countries.  The questions remains the same; how many samples do we need to gather a representative?  And at what scale do we define patterns of migration?

I will no doubt come to know the LBK culture and the use of stable isotopes in migration patterns well as I have chosen this area for my dissertation topic….

Source:

Bentley, R., Bickle, P., Fibiger, L., Nowell, G., Dale, C., Hedges, R., Hamilton, J., Wahl, J., Francken, M., Grupe, G., Lenneis, E., Teschler-Nicola, M., Arbogast, R., Hofmann, D. & Whittle, A. 2012. Community Differentiation and Kinship Among Europe’s First Farmers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. 1-5. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1113710109

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The World of Conferences

23 Mar

The academic semester is gearing up as essay titles come thick and fast, and as time runs out to define my dissertation idea and hypothesis, I remember just why I enjoy human osteology, archaeology and anthropology so much.  With technology fast unlocking secrets long hidden in archaeological samples, it can be hard to keep ahead and abreast of the recent developments in bioarchaeology.  However, conferences are a key part of academia in helping to spread the knowledge and importance of current and upcoming research, and as a means to help spread your own research.  They are vital to our understanding of the diverse topic of human osteology, which often employs a multidisciplined approach.  Recently, I have signed up to attend my first conferences in May; below are the details of the conferences I’ll be at along with a cohort of my fellow MSc osteo friends-

Between Life and Death: Interactions Between Burial and Society in the Ancient Mediterranean and  Near East

Postgraduate Research Conference at the University of Liverpool, Friday 11th to the Saturday 12th of May 2012.  The conference agenda can be found here.

This conference will deal with the treatment of the dead, and all the usual suspects of burial rites, rituals, grave goods, funerary architecture and the way cemeteries are laid, out will be discussed in various contexts.  It will also be a chance to listen to discussions on new methodological and theoretical approaches to the archaeological record of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean, from a broad range of Post Graduate Students from a host of Universities, both nationally and internationally.  I’m personally particularly looking forward to the two talks about the Neolithic; one about Dogs, Death and Identity, and one on the signs of Violence in the Neolithic Near East.  Registration is still open and can be obtained here.

Early Farmers: The View from Archaeology and Science

International Conference arranged by the University of Cardiff’s department of Archaeology and Conservation, with funding from the British Academy.  Monday 14th to the Wednesday 16th of May 2012.  The conference agenda can be found here.

The integration of archaeological data and science is the theme here, with a special focus on the early farmers.  The focus of the talk shall be Neolithic European archaeology with talks on subjects such aDNA and stable isotope analysis, imaging, animal husbandry, and the health and lifestyle demographic attributes of early farmers.  This conference provides the chance to hear some of the bigger names in bioarchaeology talk about their research and views.  Prof Clarke Spencer Larsen will be talking about health and lifestyle in early farmers, whilst Dr Rick Schulting will be discussing evidence of violence in Neolithic populations.  Alongside the usual talks on culture and transformations in the Neolithic, Prof Knusel and Dr Villotte will be discussing sexual division in the LBK culture, using data from an LBK site near Stuttgart, Germany.  Registration is again still available, please click here.

 

19/04/12 Update:

The Palaeopathology Association is having its annual meeting in Lille, northern France, this year between the 27th and 30th of August.  The program can be found here.  Meanwhile Cranfield University are offering a free day course in the form of the ‘Improving Learner Experience in Forensic Science Higher Education and Practitioner Training’ on Tuesday 15th of May, based at Shrivenham, England.  Details of the day long course can be found here.