Visit from Jason West, pioneer of the “isoscape” framework

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Jason West at the University of Bristol. Picture courtesy of Cat Jarman (who co-organised the event with Julie Dunne).

 

On Friday, the Organic Geochemistry Unit and the Cabot Institute were welcoming Jason West.

Jason is Professor of Ecosystem Ecology at Texas A&M University and also co-director of the Stable Isotopes for Biosphere Science laboratory. He has pioneered the use of “isoscapes” (from isotope landscape) as an organizing framework, which includes gathering and using spatially explicit isotope data, isotope mapping and multidisciplinary applications of isoscapes. This is a really exciting new field, which is now being applied in a range of diverse disciplines including ecology, hydrology, biology, biogeochemistry, anthropology, geography and forensics.

Jason gave a lecture and ran a workshop about isoscapes and their applications, which were particularly relevant for the NeoMilk project. Members of the NeoMilk team from Bristol as well as Adrian (who came especially from London) were delighted to meet Jason.

Thank you for coming and giving this inspiring talk!

 

Spreading the word in Slovenia

Ljubljana in warm November sun

Ljubljana in warm November sun

In November, Jessica was invited to present at the annual Neolithic Seminar organised by Professor Mihael Budja of the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. A very successful and lively event, now in its 22nd year, the seminar provided a great opportunity to update colleagues on the progress of the NeoMilk project. The theme this year was ‘Modelling the Processes of Neolithisation‘ and brought together geneticists, computer modellers and archaeologists. There was plenty to discuss on the spread of dairying and its importance in Neolithic society, made all the nicer by some pretty stunning November weather!

Last NeoMilk mission for Roz in Poing, Munich

My last mission for NeoMilk and I was filled with great hope to study some well- preserved sites from Bavaria. My list included the site of Langenreichen which was a single house occupied for two generations. However, given the acidic soil types in this region the material was not very abudant! In fact the single house could fit into a mobile phone box. It took me three days to study three sites and look through the boxes for another site which has no teeth to record. The other two sites I did study were Wickenpoint and Stephansposching, two very different sites with interesting results. Thank you to Britte, Dr. Henriette Obermaier and Prof. Joachim Pechtl for all their help and kindness in Poing.

Air France CGD terminal roof

Air France CDG terminal roof

Wickenpoint

Wickenpoint

Last night in Poing

Last night in Poing

 

 

Welcome to Isabel!

Picture_IWIsabel Wiltshire is joining the NeoMilk team for a year. She is a MSci student at the School of Chemistry of the University of Bristol.

She will be working with Melanie and Jess on potsherds from Hungary. Welcome to the team!

Jess samples the Bavarian LBK

In mid-October (wisely waiting for the Oktoberfest celebrations to wind down first), Jessica visited Munich to sample four Bavarian LBK sites: Schwanfeld, Dillingen-Steinheim, Langenreichen Am Burgholz, and Stephansposching. Pottery from these sites is curated by several different local authorities – in Munich, Augsburg and Deggendorf – and staff from all of of these institutions provided invaluable help (and refreshments!) when needed. LBK pottery expert Dr Joachim Pechtl was also on hand throughout the visit, guiding selection of the NeoMilk samples, which came to over 200 potsherds in the end. Not bad for three days intensive sampling!

Jessica and Joachim Pechtl sampling at the Landratsamt Augsburg

Jessica and Joachim Pechtl sampling at the Landratsamt Augsburg

Sampling pottery from Schwanfeld at the Archäologische Staatssammlung, Munich

Sampling pottery from Schwanfeld at the Archäologische Staatssammlung, Munich

Alsace trip

Emmanuelle went back to Alsace for a week in October. This time she met with Bernadette Schnitzler, curator at the Palais Rohan, who opened the stores of the Museum for the selection of potsherds from 3 Neolithic sites from the Alsace region needed for her project.

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The Palais Rohan in the center of the city holds the Archaeological Museum and the Decorative Art Museum. On the right side are the stores where Emmanuelle selected the sherds relevant to the project.

She also went to the INRAP to meet with Philippe Lefranc where they exchanged results and ideas for the future of the project. Emmanuelle also sampled sherds from another LBK site from Basse-Alsace with the help of Delphine Minni .

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Philippe and Emmanuelle at the INRAP looking at the pottery assemblage from Rosheim.

At the end of her stay Emmanuelle presented the NeoMilk project and her preliminary results to Christian Jeunesse and some students in archaeology at the Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme – Alsace,  University of Strasbourg.

She is now back in Bristol with 200 sherds waiting to be analysed !

EAA 2015 in Glasgow

Jess and Roz in action! (photo kindly snapped by David.)

Jess and Roz in action! (photo kindly snapped by David.)

Jess, Roz, Emily and David travelled to Glasgow at the weekend to participate in the 21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, held at the University of Glasgow. Jess and Roz presented an overview of the NeoMilk project, along with preliminary results, in the ‘From Isoscapes to Farmscapes‘ session, organised by Ingrid Mainland (University of the Highlands and Islands), Philippa Ascough (SUERC), Anthony Newton (University of Edinburgh), and Marie Balasse (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris). We chose as our ‘farmscape’ focus the LBK site of Ludwinowo 7, in northern Poland, weaving together the results of all of our different analyses. It’s great to see bigger pictures starting to emerge!

 

Back from Strasbourg

Emmanuelle and Jessica went to Strasbourg in early July to sample Alsacian potteries. They met with the archaeologist Philippe Lefranc who has performed the seriation studies of Alsacian LBK pottery. Philippe kindly guided them in the region to collect some sherds and drove them back to Strasbourg by going through small villages where several LBK sites were excavated. Nowadays those sites have been replaced by modern individual houses.

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Emmanuelle in front of the train station. Ready for the sampling!

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A very happy Jessica sightseeing in the “Petite-France”.

Sampling cattle teeth for Oxygen and Strontium Isotope analyses

During her travels Roz has collected samples of cattle third molars from Ludwinowo (Poland), Apc (Hungary) and Bischoffsheim (Alsace, France). The teeth have been sampled incrementally and each sample will be analysed for oxygen and carbon stable isotopes under the supervision of Marie Balasse (MNHN, Paris), who pioneered this sampling approach. The results will be able to tell us about diet and seasonality of LBK cattle herds and may give us an insight into how herding practices were adapted to different landscapes and environments.

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Cattle tooth before and after sequential sampling.

Emily and Jess visit Hungary

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Emily working in the bone store in Eger

In July Emily and Jessica returned to Hungary to sample sites from both regions of the Hungarian Neolithic – the Great Plain and Transdanubia. Jessica examined and sampled pottery from the Early Neolithic Körös site of Tiszaszőlős-Domaháza, the Alföld LBK settlements of Apc-Berekalja I and Füzesabony-Gubakút, material from the Szakálhát pits at Tiszaug-Vasútállomás, as well as pottery from the Transdanubian LBK site of Tolna-Mözs and the fascinating ‘hybrid’ LBK/Vinča site of Szederkény-Kukorica-dűlő. Emily performed fracture and fragmentation analysis on the Neolithic bone from Apc-Berekalja and Füzesabony-Gubakút. Battling near 40 degree heat and enormous thunderstorms these intrepid NeoMilkers did not waver from their mission, analysing almost 6 thousand fragments of bone and hundreds of bags of potsherds all in the name of science!

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Children (and adults) cool off in the fountain in beautiful Dobó Square. It took every ounce of willpower for Emily not to join in!