The FH team had a fantastic day staging an event for the first Being Human festival of the humanities. We had 14 exhibition stands with flinktnapping, pottery making, and 3D printing along with research showcases on death, stone tool refitting, human evolution, and exploration for fossils in Kenya.
The traffic for the event was slow and steady but was enjoyed by all visitors from 2 year old children up to retirees. A big thanks to all involved in running exhibits and organising the day!
Yesterday we met with Karl Lee, an experienced flint knapper. Karl has produced a series of experimental assemblages which were recovered in sequence as know tests for the refitting aspect of the project.
Karl produced levoillois sequences, handaxes, and blade sequences for us to scan and refit in the future. Initial thoughts are that refitting handaxe debitage will be a much harder task since the flakes are thin and shatter during removal.
This week marks the start of another chapter in the fragmented heritage book. We welcome Dr Rob Davis to the team who will be working to help with all things regarding refitting lithic.
Rob will be primarily based at the British Museum with Dr Nick Ashton (one of the project co-investigators) and will burrowing deep into the museums collections to find known and, perhaps with time, unknown refits within individual assemblages.
Since Rob is based down at the British Museum - Frank's House (the offsite lithics store and research building) to be exact - we marked his start with a trip down to look at some stuff and do some test scanning.
Nick took us around the stores - I guess it was obvious when I think about it, but there are thousands of drawers. We've started to select out some assemblages that will be used to test the equipment we are producing.
I did get the scanner set up and managed to scan some flakes from the Lower Palaeolithic site of Elveden. The material is partially patented with a nice brown iron staining. I'm pleased with the results of the initial scanning.
We have had the privilege of doing a spot of flint knapping with John Lord. Tom, Kate and I along with Rob and Tommy (undergraduate dissertation students) spent a day making handaxes.
The day started with a gruelling drive down to just beyond Kings Lynn in Norfolk. John started off by doing a nice demonstration of how it is done, all the while narrating the techniques and decisions behind his approach to biface reduction. I have spent a fair amount of time trying flintknapping before but have never really managed to produce anything beyond useful flakes and random blades for experimentation. One thing that I found interesting is that even the narrated demo of biface production was enough to make my next attempt at knapping moments later the best I'd achieved to date.
Kate and Tom also managed to produce some nice pieces and we collected a large bag of debitage produced when one of the handaxes was made - I'm sure we'll refit this at some point soon! More pictures of our handaxes to follow later.
Today Tom Sparrow formally joins the FH team on our quest. Tom is an experienced research assistant and will be responsible for software related to our scanning technology. Tom will also be helping develop hardware associated with different aspects of the project and generally helping get things done.
The first month of our project has moved very quickly. What a month! I've certainly had to hit the ground running and I've been using the time to get things going. Most of the initiation stuff is pretty heavy on the pen pushing - writing job specifications, internal documents for post funding, writing PhD studentship descriptions, arranging for our administrators to get these ready and move forward. These are the sorts of things that seem painful but ultimately they lead to advancement in the project and to the prospect of enlarging and enhancing our project team. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the reward of this work when these new staff and students arrive.
Other work has been the design of a project logo - I mean, we can't start working without one of those, right!?! I'd show all the iterations but I'm not sure the internet is large enough.
The other big thing has been the organisation of new research space to house our stuff. It has taken some time but we have been given what was the general office in the archaeology building on campus. It is no mean feat to negotiate new space with admin staff, academics, technicians, and estates bods. We also have other space that we'll be keeping a bit more low key where we will house the expensive stuff when we aren't using it. All this space is shared with the newly formed 'Bradford Visualisation' hub which will essentially for a KT arm for the department focusing on all manor of imaging and analysis (prospection, surface metrology, mapping, 3d scanning, you name it).
We will be presenting at the British Library in November 2013 and at the Society for American Archaeology conference in April 2014.
The British Library event is on Monday 11th November and is titled 'Transforming research through Digital Scholarship'. Our timeslot is at 2:45pm but the event starts at 11:30am and ends at 4:00pm. This is a free public event with limited places so you can sign up to come along [here]. Dr Donahue will likely be presenting on behalf of our project team but I'll also be there along with Dr Wilson.
The Society for American Archaeology conference will span the week of April 23-27th of next year. We are presenting some of our project pilot data that was used for proof of concept through the application process:
'Scanning techniques with fields of view below 1m can allow recording of whole artefacts for morphometrics and can provide detail textures from surfaces for analytical techniques. This paper is framed around improving techniques used to understand social organisation and cognition. We briefly discuss the use of nm resolution imaging (different flavours of microscopy), and its use for production and functional analysis, and then focus on the application of lower resolution imaging systems for surface capture. Photogrammetry, laser scanning, and structured light scanning are introduced as potential techniques for the imaging of objects with examples of data gathered by these techniques and the issues related to their use. This is followed by examples of how this data can be used to optimise key traditional techniques within artefact analysis including how it informs on production and tool function. The implications for increasing accuracy and efficiency of techniques such as refit analysis are an ability to study larger proportions of excavated samples while at the same time increasing data quality.'
Today marks the formal initiation of our AHRC funded project on fragmentation. We have been working and planning for some time and it is nice to finally get going with the work. The UK project investigators are Dr Randolph Donahue, Dr Andrew Wilson, Dr Adrian Evans, and Dr Hasan Ugail, (all at the University of Bradford), with Dr Nick Ashton of the British Museum. The scale of the project is such that we also have international co-investigators in Louise Leakey (Turkana Basin Institute), Andreu Olle (Taragona), and Lisa Mayer (University of California, Berkeley). Alongside this team we also have project partners from the UK Home Office, the National Physical Laboratory, Historic Scotland, the Science Museum Group, and the Citizen Science Alliance.
The project breaks down into two primary areas:
Digitisation of Refitting techniques
A main aim is to develop, test, and implement rapid digital imaging and scanning technology and computed refitting of material. This is primarily focused on the study of lithic material from early prehistoric sites but secondary focus goes to wider applications, for example to contribute to the aims of the Home Office centre for applied science and technology (live time forensics).
Citizen Science Archaeological Exploration
The project will produce high resolution wide area aerial imaging that will be put online (zooniverse) and allow people to contribute to the exploration of areas of archaeological interest. Primary focus here is in East Africa and on the exploration of early homonid artefacts and remains.
Dr Adrian Evans, University of Bradford
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