UC Berkeley faculty and student researchers affiliated with the Archaeological Research Facility may receive funds from the Stahl endowment to support their field research activities. Upon completion of the research the funding recipient is expected to present at the ARF on the results of the research, or to compose a short report from the work.
Note that the ARF has a separate collection of Field Reports and Laboratory Reports on the eScholarship repository system that contain PDF files from formal research reports.
Lithics Analysis at
Barbara Voytek, Ph.D.
|Fig. 1. Map of location in Aurisina, Italy.|
During the summer of 2011, a Stahl Endowment Fund grant assisted my completing the analysis of stone tools from the excavated cave site, Grotta dell ’Edera (Aurisina, Italy). The site is located in the karst region north of Trieste, a region that boasts over 100 caves (Fig. 1). Early excavations had been carried out at Edera between 1969 and 1975, and subsequent excavations took place between 1992 and 2002 with a two-year hiatus in 1994 and 1995. The more recent excavations had been directed by the Author and Prof. Paolo Biagi, University of Venice, engaging students from both Venice and Berkeley. Funding has come from the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia PA; the National Science Foundation, Washington DC; the Society for the Prehistory and Protohistory of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trieste; the Stahl Endowment Fund, UC Berkeley; and the Wenner Gren Foundation, New York.
At Edera we have uncovered close to four meters of deposits made up of superimposed fireplaces, hearths, cooking floors, and firepits, with occupation layers attributed to the Migration and Roman periods, the Bronze and Copper Ages, the Middle and Early Neolithic, as well as the Sauveterrian and Castelnovian Mesolithic that dates between 8,500 and 5,500 BC (Fig. 2). Water-sieving was done of all the soil removed from the cave, using a 2 mm mesh screen, providing abundant archaeological evidence, including microfauna, fish bones, charred seeds, and land snails as well as artifacts including microliths and debitage. The variations in texture and nature of the sediment at Edera are easily observed from layer 3 downwards (Fig. 3). The deposit assigned to layer 2 is essentially fine-grained grey-buff silt, while the deposit of layer 3 is compact reddish clay (Biagi, Starnini and Voytek 2008: 251-260).
A hearth/fireplace about one meter in diameter was uncovered in layer 3a. Associated with the hearth was a small Castelnovian lithic assemblage of 538 artifacts (Biagi, Starnini and Voytek 2008: 252). In addition, 17 potsherds were also found, associated with the feature. A date of 6700+/- 130 BP (GX-19569) – (ca 5,600 CAL BC) was found for the fireplace, rather late in the Castelnovian Mesolithic range.
|Fig. 2. Stratigraphy.|
In terms of faunal remains, there is evidence for hunting red deer, pig and roe deer, but there were also remains of domesticated species, mainly caprines. At the same time specimens of Patella and Monodonta marine shells totally dominate the faunal remains from this feature. This situation is known from similar cave features of the same age (Biagi and Voytek 1994; Biagi et al. 1993).
During the 1997 season at Edera, in layer 3c of the cave, we uncovered what could be described as a living floor with fire pit that was dated 8,250+/=50 (GrA 11818); and 8,350 +/- 120 (GrN 25139) – 7,000 CAL BC. The lithic assemblage reflects a Sauveterrian industry with tools having been made on local poor quality chert – basically bands of black chert found in the local limestone. As a result, the cores are mainly tabular. The tools include long scalene triangles and smaller isosceles triangles (Biagi, Starnini and Voytek 2008:253). There is evidence that the limestone had been split to extract the chert, perhaps heating the rocks to facilitate the process. Bone and antler tools were also found on the living floor, often highly polished and/or used.
Analysis of the faunal remains shows extensive fragmentation of the bones that cannot be exclusively due to natural causes like humidity, pH of the soil, or thermal changes but reflects also human action (Boschin 2004: 24, 75). The most numerous species in terms of number of remains is red deer (Cervus elaphus). In addition, there are found the remains of roe deer, wild boar, mountain goat, ibex, Bos primigenius, badger, otter, fox, marten, dog, wild cat, lynx, bear, hare, beaver, marmot, and hedgehog. Evidence for butchering was observed on many bones – cutmarks from disarticulation, removing meat from the bone, and fracturing the bone (Boschin 2004: 75).
With the support of the Stahl Endowment Fund, I was able to complete the analysis of the microwear traces of the lithic assemblages from layers 3c and 3a. The study of the 3c tools supported the faunal analysis since an inordinate percentage of the used tools (over 50%) had been used for butchering or scraping and cutting bone. At the same time, the balance of the assemblage showed significant variation in the use of the tools, including wood-working and activities on hides/skins. In this respect, the feature in 3c differed greatly from that of 3a in which a few specialized activities had been performed, mainly connected with the manufacture of armatures. The more recent feature suggests a hunting camp, while the living floor of layer 3c clearly was not. All parts of the animals were represented and there was sufficient faunal evidence to argue for long-term occupation although perhaps not in the winter (Boschin 2004: 75-80).
Studies of the attendant charcoals, to date, have shown that the fuel for the more recent hearth was comprised of a greater variety of tree species characteristic of a mixed oak forest (Nisbet 2000: 169). The mineralogical and pollen studies done to date on the cave deposits have related changes in vegetation to climatic changes through time (Boschian 1997). My goal is to examine the cave as well in terms of human choices and behavior over a period of about 3,000 years of prehistory.
|Fig. 3. Stratigraphy at Grotta dell’ Edera|
I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Archaeological Research Facility and the Stahl Endowment Fund for the assistance generously provided during the excavations of Grotta dell’ Edera and for the most recent grant in 2011.
Biagi, P., Starnini E., and Voytek, B. (2008). The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the Trieste Karst (north-eastern Italy) as seen from the excavations at the Edera Cave. In Bonsall, C. Boroneant, V., and Radovanovic, I. (eds.), The Iron Gates in Prehistory: New Perspectives, BAR International Series, 1893, pp. 251-260.
-- (1993). The late mesolithic and early neolithic settlement of Northern Italy: recent considerations. Porocilo o Raziskovanju Paleolita, Neolita in Eneolita v Sloveniji 21: 45-67.
Biagi, P. and Voytek, B. (1994). The neolithisation of the Trieste karst in north-eastern Italy and its neighbouring countries. Josa Andras Muzeum Evkonyve a Nyiregyhazi 36: 63-74.
Boschian, G. (1997). Sedimentology and soil micromorphology of the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene deposits of Grotta dell'Edera (Trieste Karst, NE Italy). Geoarchaeology 12(3): 1-23 (mss pages).
Boschin, F. (2004). L’Analisi Archeozoologica dei Resti di Macromammiferi Provienti dai Livelli Mesolitici della Grotta dell’Edera (Carso Triestino – Scavi 1990-2001). Laurea thesis. Universita degli Studi di Trieste, Facolta di Scienze Mathematiche, Fisiche, e Naturali.
Nisbet, R. (2000). Nota preliminare sull’antracologia dei depositi Olocenici della Grotta dell’Edera, Carso Triestino (scavi 1990-1999). Atti della Societa Preistoria e Protostoria Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trieste, 8: 161-170.
Roman Art and
|Members of the Via Consolare Project study one of the beautiful paintings preserved in the Villa Imperiale, Pompeii — a residence closed to the casual visitor.|
This summer saw my fourth field season in Pompeii with the Via Consolare Project (VCP; based at San Francisco State University) and my third season as a staff member. Because the chance to work at Pompeii is crucial both for my training as a scholar of ancient art and for my dissertation research on ancient Roman wall painting, I was very pleased to be able to continue my work there this year with a generous grant by the Stahl Endowment Fund.
During the 2011 field season, as part of the VCP team, I helped to complete excavation of our primary trench as well as to initiate a second one. We continued processing all excavated artifacts (practicing total recovery), including analyzing and drawing pottery, and succeeded in processing all finds up to the present; there is no backlog. As a complement to these research methods we also completed our noninvasive study of the standing remains in several key sectors of our research area. We wrote and submitted the preliminary written field report and are currently preparing it for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
For my dissertation research as well, working at Pompeii this season afforded me several extraordinary opportunities. One of the most important of these was the chance to visit and photograph the Pompeian houses containing well-preserved paintings usually closed to visitors. These paintings — the focus of my dissertation project — are so often poorly published, inaccessible, or severely degraded that studying them in person was an unparalleled benefit to my research. Firsthand analysis and recording is vital for discerning certain vital details: in some cases, for instance, large areas of a painting have been repainted in the modern period and therefore cannot be used to support an interpretation about their ancient significance. The frequency of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century restorations of these paintings, which were conducted with a mind to making them as seamless as possible with the original material, makes this a serious concern for scholars working from photographic reproductions. Observing these paintings firsthand forestalls potential problems caused by these modern interventions.
|In addition to my work in Pompeii, the Stahl Endowment Fund allowed me to pursue research in Rome using several world-famous collections of Roman painting and related materials. Among the Roman National Museums, the Palazzo Massimo houses one of the most important exhibits of ancient Roman wall painting in the region; the preservation and display of the paintings, the chronological span of the pieces displayed, and the sheer number of stellar examples makes this a very rich resource indeed. This summer I was delighted to find that these precious holdings have been reinstalled with beautiful new lighting techniques, such that analysis and photography both revealed much that had before been obscured.|
|Cubiculum B of the ancient Roman Villa Farnesina, newly reinstalled in the galleries of the Roman National Museums - Palazzo Massimo.|
This summer I was delighted to find that these precious holdings have been reinstalled with beautiful new lighting techniques, such that analysis and photography both revealed much that had before been obscured.
|Just outside of Rome, I visited the archaeological site and museum of Palestrina to study the mosaics there. These provide valuable iconographical comparanda across media for Roman painting. In addition, gaining access to a usually closed part of the site with an important (and infrequently photographed) mosaic made this site visit all the more productive. I am grateful to the Stahl Endowment Fund for making possible such a fruitful research season.|
Field report: Museum work on Bronze Age materials
2010 Museum Work
During the period of July 9th through August 15th 2010 I had the opportunity to work abroad at the site museum in Mycenae, Greece (fig. 1). Under the direction of Professor Kim Shelton of UC Berkeley’s Classics Department and the mentorship of several experienced graduate students from Berkeley and other prestigious graduate programs in archaeology I learned crucial hands-on experience in ceramics analysis and had the chance to work also with frescoes and a set of diverse small finds excavated at the site in recent years past. In addition to our regular museum routine (discussed below) we received many intimate and engaging orientations at the site. Professor Shelton gave us a tour of Mycenae’s cult center, a section of the citadel not open to the public, and provided an in-depth overview of its excavations and history, Lynne Kvapil (University of Cincinnati) offered a guided tour of the whole citadel and the tombs, and Gypsy Price (University of Florida) guided us around Petsas House (fig. 2), a ceramic-warehouse and domestic structure of the Bronze Age excavated by Berkeley over nine seasons and the context for the material with which we were working in the museum. In addition to our time at Mycenae, we also lived next to the ancient site of Nemea where we were only a few meters away from the Temple of Zeus and the site’s museum. During the season we also visited other archaeological sites and museums at Corinth, Perachora, and Athens.
With a small group of peers, undergraduates, and veteran graduate students I worked at the Mycenae museum Monday through Friday primarily sorting, cleaning, joining, and cataloging pottery sherds (fig. 3). The zembilis of excavated material originated from a deep well (or “pit”) within Petsas House. After sorting the sherds in each zembili by chronological period, vessel part, color/fabric, and decoration, and counting and cataloging them, we referenced any decorated pieces of pottery against P.A. Mountjoy’s Mycenaean Pottery: An Introduction. This exercise was the most challenging given the sparseness of decorated sherds among the zembilis and the relatively small size of most fragments. Through this exercise, though, I learned a canon of common Mycenaean motifs, slips and fabrics primarily from the LH IIIA1-2 period (the phase before the destruction of the structure). In addition to identifying sherds with slip and glaze, one of our main goals as a group was to work together to reconstitute whole vessels. To do this we studied each other’s zembili. After a week or so of practice it became easier to see which sherds had old and new breaks, a factor that can guide one when searching for pieces of the puzzle. Fresh breaks tend to stay within a zembili: fractures occurring after the material is bagged up. Old breaks are much more difficult for which to find joining pieces and sometimes too worn to be easily joined with glue. When we found a join we labeled that piece with its original zembili number before gluing it to the other pieces. By tracing the location of each piece and compiling a list of zembili numbers for each whole pot we were able to get a sense of the stratigraphic mapping of one vessel within the larger deposit. In reconstructing vessels each of us eventually found a niche: some gravitated toward larger kylikes, others conical cups, and I, coarseware cooking vessels (fig. 4).
Toward the end of the season, when we were nearly finished sorting and cataloging the well deposit, we moved on to more diverse tasks within and outside of the museum. On some Fridays a small group of us would sort flot at the director’s house in Mycenae (fig. 5). While it was arduous to separate pebbles from plesia clay, bones, pithos, seeds, and plaster fragments, it definitely helped me to realize the essentiality of each of archaeology’s subfields in reconstructing the bigger picture, the social and economic underpinnings of a culture and the materials off which it thrived.
During the last couple weeks in the museum I had to the opportunity to work on various materials while cataloging small finds from past excavations. These included objects ranging from Late Bronze Age Mycenaean Psi- and Phi-figurines and steatite weights to Hellenistic clay lamps and Roman glass. I even cleaned, joined and cataloged several fresco fragments from Petsas House and met the museum’s fresco conservator who showed us around her laboratory while describing recent finds and the conservation process. In cataloging small finds and fresco fragments I learned to draw and photograph objects properly and enter written information into a computer database (fig. 6).
During the following academic semester (Fall 2010) I was able to integrate my summer experiences with pottery and frescoes at Mycenae into my lessons on and discussions of Mycenaean art, architecture, and archaeology in HA 141C, a lecture course on Minoan and Mycenaean art at Berkeley. While teaching the sections for this course I integrated my personal images into presentations, arranged for a guest lecture by a fellow graduate student who had also worked at Mycenae and even designed a pottery-joining activity for my students during which we discussed the typed of shapes, fabrics, and decorations one would find on Mycenaean pottery. I wholeheartedly believe that my hands-on experience and intimate study of the material at Mycenae has helped to equip me with the essential tools I need to effectively engage my students with ancient objects and teach them about the practical role of archaeology in any study of ancient art and material culture.
Field Report: Materials from the Cave of Lost Causes
Archaeological Research Facility
THE PREHISTORY OF THE GUAYCURA IN BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR, MEXICO: EXCAVATIONS AT THE CAVE OF LOST CAUSES
Stahl funds were used to continue analysis and curation of the 2008 Cueva Santa Rita archaeological collection. Archeological collections excavated in the country of Mexico cannot leave the country, even temporarily. To finish the analysis phase of this dissertation project, considerable time was spent examining artifacts in Baja California Sur. By funding travel to Mexico, Stahl funds also made it possible to export ancient DNA samples for analysis at the University of Copenhagen and collect data for a poster presentation at the 2011 SAA meetings.
Curation and Artifact Analysis
Several months were spent in La Paz with the collection. Analysis included classification of cordage (dm, length, spin, twist, twist per cm., angle of twist, wear); debitage (unit, quad, level, material, weight aggregate analysis, size aggregate analysis, tripel cortex analysis, free standing typology); cores (size, wt., type, use wear), olivella shell beads and bead blanks (shell type circumference size, height, #of ground surfaces, shape of spire, cordage present, # of suture lines, surface wear, heat treatment); projectile points (length, width, In addition all data was digitized and photographs were taken of nearly every artifact. Permission was received to store the collection at a facility in La Paz.
Permission was also received to export “contact” DNA samples for DNA analysis and extraction of mtDNA at the Center for GeoGenetics. Samples include a reed skirt fragment, corn, quid, and coprolites. Samples were hand carried to the United States and mailed to Copenhagen.
Significance of mtDNA analysis
A long-debated concept regarding southern Baja California prehistory involves its population history, with particular attention focused on antiquity of the Pericú in the southernmost portion of the peninsula. Although the aDNA laboratory at the Centre for GeoGenetics has extracted aDNA from Pericú burials in the Cape Region, to understand population dynamics in the southern peninsula, it is crucial to capture the spatial patterning of mtDNA lineages throughout the region. Given that the unique Pericú-style burials are found as far north as the central peninsula, many archaeological sites much farther north may be Pericú or ancestral Pericú.
The samples provided are from the Guaycura region, directly north and adjacent to the historically drawn boundaries of the Pericú. Data collection in this region was partially inspired by the discovery of Pericú-style burials in central Baja and survey work in the 1950’s that indicate Pericú territory may have been more extensive in the past. Our interest in the Pericú of the Cape Region is related to the potential for genetic and/or cultural isolation for an unusually long period of time, possibly as early as the Pleistocene. Early explorers and missionary accounts, some separated by decades, describe the southern Baja natives as being both physically and culturally different from other Native Americans. Recently, a systematic analysis of cultural traits (e.g. child carrying devices, female dress, male headdress, marriage patterns) discussed in these historic texts suggests the Pericú were culturally distinct from the Guaycura and Cochimí during the period of historic contact (Macfarlan and Henrickson 2010). However, this does not speak to the antiquity of the Pericú or the history of their relationships with the Guaycura, as cultural mechanisms can cause groups to diverge quickly, especially when population sizes are small (Neiman 1995). Archaeological sites have uncovered an interesting set of artifacts reminiscent of early sites in North America, including the retention of atlatls (Laylander 2007), projectile point production and styles (Aschmann 1952, Des Lauriers 2006; Des Lauriers 2008; Gutierrez and Hyland 2002), and notable absence of indigenous pottery (Massey 1966). Gonzalez-José et al. made headlines in 2003 when they published an article based on craniometric evidence stating skeletons from the Cape Region were most similar to Paleoamerican remains, attributing climate changes during the middle Holocene as restricting gene flow to the southern peninsula. Although many lines of evidence have suggested that southern baja populations may indeed be a remnant population of one of the earliest migrations into the New World, none are considered conclusive.
The results of cordage analysis were presented as a poster at the 2010 SAA meetings.
The goal of cordage analysis was to answer several questions:
1) Can we identify cordage attribues as characteristic of Cueva Santa Rita? Do cordage attributes vary by facies?
2) Can results of our analysis be used to interpet cultural relationships between sites and groups of sites?
I would like to thank the Stahl committee for the funding provided and the time and effort given to provide this opporunity to graduate students. The funding is very much appreciated and needed.
Field Report: A Middle Jomon site in northern Japan.
2010-2011 Field Seasons
Archaeological Research Facility
31 May, 2011
Junko Habu, Professor
The goals of our project are 1) to examine characteristics of subsistence, settlement and society of the Middle Jomon period (ca. 3000 BC), and 2) to identify activity areas within a Middle Jomon pit house at the Goshizawa Matsumori site in Aomori, Japan. Located on a hillside about 10 km away from the famous Sannai Maruyama site, Goshizawa Matsumori is a residential site dated to the beginning of the Middle Jomon period. The site is on Aomori City land that is leased to the Aomori Horse Riding Club, and was discovered by a member of the Riding Club during construction of a small kitchen garden. A local archaeologist who initially reported the discovery noted that the site consists of at least one pit-dwelling and a concentration of Middle Jomon potsherds. Unlike Sannai Maruyama, which is associated with a large number of Early and Middle pit-dwellings, Goshizawa Matsumori is likely to have been a smaller settlement, possibly a special purpose site that was occupied only seasonally. A systematic investigation of this site can help us understand functional diversity among Jomon sites in this region.
My students and I have been excavating the Goshizawa Matsumori site since July 2008, and this year was our last field season. Our excavation area included a Middle Jomon pit-dwelling (House 1), three Middle Jomon flask-shaped storage pits(Features 13, 19 and 22), and a Heian Period (8-12 Century A.D.) pit-dwelling (Feature 20). Our efforts of the summer 2010 field season focused on the completion of the excavation of House 1. Soil samples were collected for flotation and water-screening from 25 cm x 25 cm x 5 cm units. We collected about 600 bags of soil samples from the fill of House 1 and successfully completed our excavation on August 12.
Spatial distribution data of artifacts and floral remains from House 1 is in progress. Analyses of charred floral remains retrieved from soil samples from House 1 indicate that a large number of walnut shell fragments, as well as a smaller number of chestnut remains, are present. In addition, charred seeds of lacquer tree (Rus), Amur cork tree (Phellodendron), dogwood (Cornus), Japanese Angelica-tree (Aralia), elderberry (Sambucus), knotweed (Polygonum), and Goosefoot (Chenopodium) have been identified. In particular, an abundance of charred lacquer tree seeds is characteristic of the seed assemblage. Ethnographic records indicate that lacquer tree fruits were frequently used to extract plant oil/wax, which might have been the case with the Jomon people. Alternatively, an abundance of lacquer tree seeds could indicate an artificial management of lacquer tree population. Comparison with data from other sites is currently underway to evaluate the importance of both walnuts and lacquer tree seeds in Jomon subsistence and lifeways.
Our summer 2010 fieldwork was conducted in conjunction with a summer field school class, Anthropology N134A (Archaeological Field Methods: Archaeology of Jomon Hunter-Gatherers in Japan). 14 undergraduate students from UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin Madison, and Western Caroline University joined the class. The project was run with assistance from four American and three Japanese staff members. We had fun, and we were able to interact with local archaeologists and residents through outreach events and museum tours.
Archaeological Research Facility
Nathan T. Arrington
The maps detail the topography of the northwest of ancient Athens, and help establish the location of the Athenian public cemetery. They plot the course of the roads in the city, the walls of the city and shrines, the major landmarks, and sites where public graves and other material relevant to locating the cemetery were found. This material was recovered from a systematic and comprehensive survey of the rescue excavation reports published by the Greek archaeological service. All ancient sites and features were plotted in relation to the modern city of Athens, so that scholars can understand the relation of future work to those discoveries that already have been made. The use of color enabled by the Stahl grant increased the legibility of the maps.
The purpose of the study was to establish the location of the public cemetery and the date when it began to be used. Furthermore, the study sought to understand why this particular location was chosen. This question required a detailed analysis of the topography of the area, the history of use of the region, and the significance(s) that the different spaces held for the Athenians. The article concludes that the cemetery was established ca. 500 B.C. in an area with few earlier burials but rich in religious and civic associations. Moreover, the nascent democracy created a powerful semantic contrast by placing their new cemetery near a region with a long history of ties to the elite.