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Brown Bag Lecture, Apr 22

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture.

Brown Bag Lecture, Apr 29

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture.

Brown Bag Lecture, May 6

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture.

Spatial Data Science for Professionals, May 20-22

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
International and Executive Programs (IEP) and the Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) at the College of Natural Resources are hosting a 3-day intensive bootcamp on Spatial Data Science on May 20-22, 2015.

The goal of this Spatial Data Science Bootcamp is to familiarize participants with the modern spatial data workflow and explore open source and cloud/web based options for spatial data management, analysis, visualization and publication. We’ll use hands-on exercises that leverage open source and cloud/web based technologies for a variety of spatial data applications.

The Melpomene Chair Greek Studies Conference, Dec 7

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
A conference of invited papers on the language, literature, culture, and reception of Ancient Greece.
The conference marks the retirement in December 2015 of Donald Mastronarde, Melpomene Distinguished Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures, and the speakers are Berkeley PhD's and Scuola Normale (Pisa) PhD's from past decades and recent years.

The Melpomene Chair Greek Studies Conference, Dec 8

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
A conference of invited papers on the language, literature, culture, and reception of Ancient Greece.
The conference marks the retirement in December 2015 of Donald Mastronarde, Melpomene Distinguished Professor of Classical Languages and Literatures, and the speakers are Berkeley PhD's and Scuola Normale (Pisa) PhD's from past decades and recent years.

The Nemea Center Lecture. "Landscape Archaeology and the Medieval Countryside: Nemea in Context", Mar 16

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
In the past three decades intensive archaeological landscape projects in Greece have produced a rich, diachronic record of rural settlement and land use. The diachronic scope of these projects has opened up new opportunities for the study of the 12th and 13th centuries, the transition from the Middle to Late Byzantine period. Many regional surveys have identified remnants of settlement and ceramics dating to this period; the regional patterns may differ but the emerging picture is clear, there is a proliferation of sites and off-site material which must reflect dense habitation as well as the intense level of agricultural activity during this time. In addition, the widespread distribution of diagnostic glazed wares in the rural landscape indicates increased availability, which may reflect changes in the organization of ceramic production, from centralized to dispersed. The archaeological evidence suggests that glazed pottery in the Middle-Late Byzantine period was produced in regional workshops located in urban as well as rural areas. These developments fit well with the centrifugal economic trends, the territorial shrinking of Byzantium and the growth of urban centers and rural settlement during this period. This presentation will conclude with an overview of the archaeological evidence from Nemea, advocating for an integrated approach that blends archaeological (surface survey, excavation) and historical perspectives.

Revisiting the Grave: Post-funeral Performances in Late Bronze Age Aegean Tombs, Apr 14

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - 1 hour 32 min ago
Mortuary data forms one of the primary sources for studying the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean. It is often, however, examined in isolation from the complex, multi-staged processes and performances that made up the funeral and everything that followed it, given that the most popular tomb types, the tholos and chamber tombs, were used for multiple burials. The depositional sequence of these actions is most frequently overlooked, not least because of practical difficulties in identifying and reconstructing these events and the ephemeral and often ambiguous nature of the evidence. Despite these limitations, however, there are many clues, both direct – in the form of residual remains – and indirect – in the form of purposefully destroyed things – that hint at a whole range of funerary and post-funerary actions, involving the bodies and bones of those previously interred as well as the objects placed with them in the graves.

This lecture revisits the methodologies used in the identification of these actions and the interpretations that have been put forward to explain the post-funeral manipulation of bones and objects in Late Bronze Age tombs. ‘Essential’ as these actions may have been, because of the reuse of the tombs, scholarship may have actually conflated different sets of information to produce a rather homogeneous picture that is still extensively used in the reconstruction of ‘Mycenaean burial customs’. These post-funeral actions, however, may have actually entailed a number of different performances, which formed part of multi-staged episodes and of a more complex and nuanced web of social practice than previously thought.

How can we identify and reconstruct post-funeral manipulation? What did these processes and performances entail? What can we learn about the Aegean Late Bronze Age societies from the examination of their post-funeral practices? These questions are pertinent to current discussions in Mediterranean archaeology regarding the extent and significance of funeral manipulation of bones and objects and of intentional acts of fragmentation in the archaeological record.

Brown Bag Lecture, Apr 8

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture.

Life, Labor, and Maintenance of Indigenous Home Places in 19th Century Central California, Feb 18

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
In this talk, I will present an update on my current dissertation research at Tolay Lake Regional Park located in southern Sonoma County, California. This dissertation is a community-engaged research project that was designed in close collaboration with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR), the tribe whose traditional territory is Marin and southern Sonoma Counties. To date, my research teams have completed two field seasons (2013 and 2014). Our goals for this research are: 1. to better understand the environmental history of the Tolay Valley; 2. to better understand the extent to which this valley was actively managed by Indigenous people; 3. to gain insight into the lives of Indigenous people during and after the establishment of Spanish Missions, Mexican ranchos, and the Californian state. I will pay special attention in this presentation to what the archaeological sites at Tolay can tell us about the experiences of Indigenous people working on ranches and making their homes on the traditional middens or mounds just beyond the immediate oversight of their employers.

A Tale of Two Rockshelters, Feb 25

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
Until recently, the Mangareva (Gambier) Islands of French Polynesia have remained among the least studied in Eastern Polynesia from an archaeological perspective. Since 2001, Prof. Kirch has directed five seasons of fieldwork in Mangareva, resulting in the definition of a prehistoric cultural sequence extending back to ca. A.D. 950 and initial Polynesian colonization. Faunal and floral assemblages recovered from two well stratified rockshelters on Agakauitai and Kamaka Islands reveal dramatic changes in the islands' ecology during the period of Polynesian occupation, including the extirpation of large seabird populations, the introduction of invasive rats, and deforestation.

Brown Bag Lecture, Mar 4

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture

Brown Bag Lecture, Mar 11

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture

Brown Bag Lecture, Mar 25

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture

Brown Bag Lecture, Apr 1

Upcoming ARF Events - 1 hour 32 min ago
This is a brown bag lecture.

The Beauty and Frustration of Single Moments, Frozen in Time

Then Dig blog - Mon, 02/09/2015 - 04:07

Our first entry in The Senses and Aesthetics of Archaeological Science comes from Lisa-Marie Shillito, at the University of Edinburgh. Responses follow from co-editors of the issue, Andrew Roddick and Colleen Morgan.

Lisa-Marie Shillito

It wasn’t until I became a micromorphologist that I understood how beautiful even the most unremarkable bit of earth can be, or that I truly understood context. I’ve previously described thin section micromorphology as ‘excavation under the microscope’ – observing deposits, describing their physical characteristics, determining the stratigraphic relationship between components, and reconstructing the processes by which they have formed (Shillito 2013). The sediments themselves become part of material culture. Produced as they are directly by human activity, understanding their mode of formation can aid in the interpretation of the activities that produced them.

The moment where you peer down the lens of the microscope and a picture comes into focus, you may find yourself glimpsing at that elusive ‘frozen moment in time’, a true single depositional event, preserved for prosperity between layers of glass. The moment where you can see the single layer of paint that was applied to a wall and subsequently covered and covered again; you can see the hand of the person that so carefully replastered and painted those walls over and over. The moment where you look at a sequence of floors and see a layer of fine dust less than 1mm thick that accumulated beneath a mat, the everyday dirt that escaped the fastidious sweeping of floors. Beyond buildings we may see the tell-tale undulations and orientations of particles within soft midden sediments that indicate where a person (or creature) once walked, perhaps taking a short cut to a neighbour over the way or making a rest stop to relieve themselves (we see evidence of that too…).

The closer we look, the more we see; the very process of examining archaeological deposits under the microscope gives a new understanding of the past. It is only by examining deposits at the microscale that you can gain a true understanding of ‘single context’ and how the tiny traces from individual activities combine to form cumulative palimpsests (to use the terminology of Bailey 2007) even in cases where we may think we have a ‘single’ context in the field. That moment you realise that ‘in situ’ is a relative concept, and materials we assume are intact have often undergone a series of post-depositional disturbances that have consequences for how they can be interpreted. At one magnification we may be looking at an event that occurred within a single moment; change magnifications and suddenly the temporal resolution shifts.

The implications of Schiffer’s ideas on formation processes are frustratingly obvious at the microscale. How can we really link that date with that artefact, when even in the same layer some small creature has come along and mixed things up a little? And how do we even know this disturbance has happened without using the microarchaeological eye? These processes occur more often than not, yet without microarchaeology, they may go unrecognised. It has been suggested by Smith (1992) that we cannot isolate and analyse instantaneous occurrences in archaeology and even if we could (as is sometimes the case with micromorphology) how do we decide what to analyse? The picture becomes so complicated I wonder if we can ever have a ‘true’ understanding of the archaeological record. Of course the answer is always, ‘it depends’. We can observe deposits at higher and higher resolutions, but the resolution that is necessary depends on specific research objectives.

Unlike specialisms such as zooarchaeology and lithic analysis where you can handle the bones and stones, pointing to features, however subtle, and explain your interpretations, my speciality lies in the unseen, the hidden worlds, the intangible. Explaining is not as straightforward. Explaining the importance of microarchaeological research and being transparent in how you arrived at an interpretation requires the visual. Under the microscope stratigraphy becomes differentiated, the relationships between components within a deposit become apparent and the mechanisms by which materials ended up in their positions can be directly observed in a way that is simply not possible at the macroscale.

Like single context archaeology, one of microarchaeology’s greatest contributions lies in sites with well-preserved stratigraphy and architectural features (Morgan 2010), and its true value can only come from collaboration between specialisms, and considering the sediment as part of the assemblage along with all the other materials we uncover. The sediments can speak their own stories about people in the past, but they also provide important constraints on the myriad of possible interpretations of other artefact and ecofact assemblages, going some way towards reducing their equifinality. It can be disheartening being the specialist whose greatest contribution is in pointing out the taphonomic problems with a favoured interpretation. Luckily, the beauty of the world under the microscope (mostly) makes up for its frustrations.

Bailey, G. 2007. Time perspectives, palimpsests and the archaeology of time. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, vol 26, no. 2, pp. 198-223.

Colleen, M. 2010. Where is single context archaeology? [blog post] http://middlesavagery.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/where-is-single-context-archaeology/

Matthews, W. 1998. Report on sampling strategies, microstratigraphy and micromorphology of depositional sequences, and associated ethnoarchaeology at Çatalhöyük Çatalhöyük Archive Report. http://www.catalhoyuk.com/archive_reports/1998/ar98_06.html

Schiffer, M.B. 1987. Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque

Shillito, L-M. 2013. Archaeology Under the Microscope. The Post Hole. http://www.theposthole.org/read/article/213

Smith, M.E. 1992. Braudel’s temporal rhythms and chronology theory in archaeology in A. Bernard Knapp (ed) Archaeology, Annales, and Ethnohistory. Cambridge University Press pp.23-34.

Tracing the Past under the Microscope

Andrew Roddick

Lisa Marie’s reflections highlight the analytical quandaries, the frustrations, but also the new interpretive and aesthetic worlds that open up through the microscopic gaze. This exploration of the unseen and intangible might be considered as an exploration of the trace, an archaeological element of an entirely different scale than the impressive houses and mounds at Çatalhöyük. Rosemary Joyce (2006: 15) contrasts the trace, which is subtle and contextual, with the monumental, which are those realms of material culture with external hierarchies of value meant to convey sets of meanings over time.  Joyce argues our job is to work at “rematerializ[ing] traces of practices in the past” (Joyce 2012: 121). Such rematerializing requires the specialized tools, learned techniques, and careful theoretical insight and reflection, all essential to our modern disciplinary practice.

As a ceramicist I have been thinking recently about the relationship between my craft of archaeology and those craft producers in the deeper past who produced the vessels I study, and the traces I follow. Just as potters transformed into clay into a vessel through learned technical practice, the pottery is transformed again as it enters my laboratory. I must first decide which traces of the past I’m interested in following, as this choice will determine the next step of the transformation; the sample must be cut either vertically, horizontally or tangentially, each of which will produce distinct traces.  Each step in following these traces also introduces new problems: Are these micro structural traces evidence of clay mixing, or simply bioturbation? These mundane objects introduce monumental issues at the microscale. But like Lisa Marie, these moments are disrupted by aesthetic appreciation, producing a kind of pause similar to that of a sun setting over an important monumental heritage site. Exhibits by archaeological scientists such as David Killick (http://uanews.org/story/art-and-science-converge-state-museum-exhibit) suggests there may be reason to invite a much larger public to peer down the microscope with us, demonstrating the beauty behind even behind the dirt beneath your mat, or the awe in an old clay pot.

Joyce R. A. 2006. The monumental and the trace: archaeological conservation and the materiality of the past. In Agnew N and Bridgland J (editor) Of the Past, for the Future: Integrating Archaeology and Conservation. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 13-18.

Joyce R. A. 2012. Life With Things: Archaeology and Materiality. In Shankland D (ed.) Archaeology and Anthropology: Past, Present and Future. Proceedings of the British Association of Social Anthropologists. London: Berg Publishers, 119-132.

El tiempo lo aguanta todo by Leyla Cárdenas The Microarchaeological Eye

Colleen Morgan

What is a context/archaeological unit? How can archaeologists deal with stratigraphic deposits that are too fine to feel, that disappear under the trowel? I find myself alternately defending the craft of archaeological excavation and now, wondering if field archaeologists are actually equipped to excavate at all. Lisa-Marie Shillito’s microlayers: fingerprints, the stroke of a paintbrush, the dust under the mat, a breath, the barest whisper of a deposit, are terrifyingly ephemeral. How soon until we are able to excavate a painting stroke by stroke, unmaking masterpieces in reverse? Recent work in 3D printing fine art paintings by Tim Zaman may make this possible in the near future.

I spent a few days in January in the company of artists at the Van Eyck Institute as part of NEARCH, and after the lectures were done, we compared art practice and archaeology practice. How are we funded? Who is our audience? This process of making our professions intelligible was fascinating, but now I think we might have missed the main point. Archaeologists are un-doers, unravellers of the skein of time, picking out the stitches, ruining the weft. Perhaps that is why some of us refuse to re-knit the past back together again, it is too personal, we are too inexperienced and can only produce a vague, warped parody of the original.

Still, I think about the gestures involved in unpainting a painting. The tiny, precise swipe of the removal of a stipple. The broad slash, peeling off a jagged stroke. What would the Harris Matrix of a Mondrian look like? Squares and lines and red on black? Would the reverse-Pollock matrix be a tangled cloud? How does our arcane, chronologic, geography of a site describe and inscribe the parameters of human action?

One of the artists, Leyla Cárdenas at the Jan Van Eyck Academy specialized in a kind of microstratigraphic excavation. She peeled apart layers of paint, pried apart wallpaper to make an exploded stratigraphy of sites. She is interested in palimpsest, in sections sawed through art. I wonder if there is a microarchaeological movement in art?

Ancestral Hawaiian Households, Feb 11

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 07:05
The social organization that emerged in the Hawaiian archipelago over several centuries preceding European contact resulted in strictly stratified society. This social structure is partially accessible today through descriptions of the kapu system that regulated hierarchical and lateral relationships. Archaeologically, such relationships are most visible at the household level. My research interrogates indigenous knowledge with Hawaiian archaeological research on pre-European contact households and gendered interaction in order to investigate the lives of the individuals belonging to household units. The utilization of important oral traditions as a tool in archaeological investigation of social interaction and space use at this scale promises an increasingly well-rounded understanding of the lives of early Hawaiians. Recorded Hawaiian traditions relay the importance of the construction of space in the household (particularly with regards to gender), yet the static implementation of these records in the analytical process by archaeologists prohibits a nuanced understanding of the diversity of practice across regional and class boundaries. I am currently exploring recorded ancestral knowledge as an illustration of the inherent fluidity and complexity of the Hawaiian culture. The analysis weaves together these traditions of space use and gendered interaction within the household, with current scientific research methods in an effort to understand variability across the Nu'u ahupua' in Kaupo, Maui.

Opening Reception and Film Screenings: Atlas of the Albany Bulb at the Refuge in Refuse Exhibit, Feb 12

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 07:05
Opening Reception and Film Screenings: Atlas of the Albany Bulb, part of the Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art & Culture Exhibit

02/12/2015, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

SOMArts Gallery, San Francisco

Free Admission


SOMArts Gallery

934 Brannan Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

The opening of a wide-ranging exhibit about the art-filled former landfill known as the Albany Bulb will feature three film screenings beginning at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., and informal chats with former Albany Bulb residents, participating artists, and other people who know the Bulb well. Curbside tours of LavaMae’s mobile showers for the homeless in re-purposed MUNI buses will also be available.

More info: http://www.somarts.org/refugeopens. The Refuge in Refuse exhibit runs from February 12, 2015 to March 14, 2015.

UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative Project Director Susan Moffat organized one part of the exhibit, which includes excerpts from the Atlas of the Albany Bulb, an oral history and mapping project exploring the natural and cultural landscape of the site.

Working with students from the UC Berkeley departments of Anthropology/Archeology, Architecture, City and Regional Planning, Geography, Landscape Architecture, Molecular Environmental Biology, and the Information School, Moffat engaged with residents of the Bulb to create collaborative video and photo narratives and maps.

The Atlas of the Albany Bulb is an ongoing project that aims to assemble a diverse multimedia quilt of stories and images about a dense landscape of nature, culture, and memory. The project, including opportunities for participation by the wider community, can be followed at Albanybulbatlas.org. Following the exhibit, the maps and stories will be presented online.

Also on display will be work by UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design lecturer Randi Johnsen and her landscape architecture students. They studied the Bulb and created a range of design proposals that address both the natural and human elements of the site.

About the Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art & Culture Project:
For more than two decades artists, recreationalists, and the homeless have shared the Albany Bulb, a decommissioned landfill peninsula located along the east shore of the San Francisco Bay, creating infrastructure and exploring borders between public and private urban space. The group exhibition Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art & Culture Project includes audio stories, video, photography, painting, sculpture, interventions, and 3D scans reflecting the intersections of architecture, art, ecology and community at the Bulb.<a href="http://www.somarts.org/refugeinrefuse/"> Read more… </a>

About the evening’s films:

6-9 p.m.: Atlas of the Albany Bulb. Short films and slideshows made by UC Berkeley students in collaboration with former Bulb residents will be viewable on monitors at the exhibit. These will be available throughout the month-long exhibit.

Feature length film documentaries created about the Albany Bulb will be played on BAVC’s SF Commons Public Access TV (Comcast 76, Astound 30 & streamed online). The films will be screened at 6pm, 7pm & 8pm during the exhibition opening, and will play in a loop on monitors in SOMArts gallery space while Refuge in Refuse is on view.

6–7 p.m.: Bums’ Paradise, a 53-minute documentary by Tomas McCabe that depicts the lives of the men and women who lived in the ten-year-old Albany Landfill community prior to their first eviction in 2002.

7-8 p.m.: Where Do You Go When it Rains?, a 1 hour 5 minutes digital film, 2009–2014, was written, produced, directed, and edited collectively by Jimbow the Hobow, Katherine Cody, Chester Mounten, Phyl Lewis, Amber Whitson, and Andy Kreamer.

8-9 p.m.: Refuge in Refuse, a 37 minute film by Robin Lasser was created in collaboration with the “landfillians” living at the Albany Bulb during the final year prior to their eviction in April 2014.


The Atlas of the Albany Bulb was made possible with support from Cal Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit http://www.calhum.org.

The Atlas is part of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, a joint venture of the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design and the Arts & Humanities Division of the College of Letters and Science. The Initiative aims to investigate cities and urban life by bringing together the methods of the design disciplines with those of the arts and humanities.

Digital Humanities and Egyptology Workshop, Feb 13

Other Archaeology Events at Cal - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 07:05
10 am Opening remarks (Rita Lucarelli, UC Berkeley)

10.15 am Willeke Wendrich (UCLA): Ancient Egypt Online: Data, Metadata and Quality of Information

11.15 am Mark Depauw (KU Leuven): Trismegistos and Ancient Egypt: Bridging Academia and Collections

12.15 am Rita Lucarelli (UC Berkeley): The Materiality of the Book of the Dead: Mapping Ancient Texts on Objects through 3D Visualization Techniques

1 pm Lunch

Second session (Round Table)
2-4 pm The value of digital tools and methodologies in Egyptology and the development of a working cooperation among digital egyptological projects worldwide
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