It’s all Talk, Talk, Talk…

The first gathering of British zooarchaeologists in 2012 takes place this coming Saturday (4th February) in London.  The latest Professional Zooarchaeology Group meeting will be held in the Museum of London Archaeology offices with the focus this time placed on “Unusual Deposits”.  I’ll be presenting a short case-study there, entitled “When the Unusual is the Normal”, focusing on the zooarchaeology of Mongolian khrigsuur monuments.

January has also seen the firming up of a couple of schedules for some of the bigger conferences to take place in 2012.  The 11th biennial SAfA (Society of Africanist Archaeologists) meeting takes place in Toronto from June 20th-23rd. Sadly I’m unable to attend as I’ll be away conducting fieldwork at the time.  It’s one of my favourite conferences though as it always has a lovely atmosphere and some interesting sessions and I will be there in spirit as my poster presentation entitled “iCommunication in African Zooarchaeology” (collaborating with Jim Morris) has been accepted for exhibition in absentia. This presentation was previously aired at AARD 2011 and a copy a copy is available on my Academia profile (a copy of the abstract was given in a previous post here entitled Digital Africa).

The other schedule that is being firmed up is that of the 18th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA).  This year, the conference will take place in Helsinki from 29th August – 1st September.  I’m very pleased to be collaborating with Ben Jervis and Idoia Grau Sologestoa to organise a session, I’ve known them both for some years but this is the first time that we’ve worked together in any capacity.  The session aims to take a holistic view to the study of urban environments in Mediaveal Europe and will bring material and environmental scientists together for a dialogue that happens all too rarely in archaeology, in order to discuss common research themes and problems.  The session is entitled “Life in the City: Environmental and Artefactual Approaches to Urban Europe in the Middle Ages” and should be open for online submission of papers from the 8th February.  Anyone who thinks they may be interested in presenting at this session is encouraged contact us as early as possible to discuss their ideas rather than waiting for the online portal to open.  A full copy of the session abstract is given below.

lion skeleton


Life in the City: Environmental and Artefactual approaches to Urban Europe in the Middle Ages

Traditional approaches to the study of medieval urbanism have focussed upon the reconstruction of town plans and the study of trade and craft activity. The wider potential of environmental and artefactual remains has not been fully realised. The aim of this session is to explore the range of insights that detailed study of these remains can provide in exploring, for example:

• The levels of similarity and difference between urban and rural living. Did a continuum or a dichotomy emerge through everyday life in these different environments? How did engagements with objects and the environment contribute to a uniquely urban existence? Did urbanism foster a worldview which saw similar material and environmental objects have different symbolic meanings?

• How did experiences of urban life vary between individuals and households, based, for example, on their wealth, ethnicity, gender or profession?

• How did experiences of urban life vary between towns, for example, through the exposure of members of their population to international influences?

• The level of mutual dependence between urban and rural communities. How interdependent were towns and their hinterlands and cities and their regions (including smaller towns)?

• How can artefactual and/or environmental evidence help us understand the social structure of towns and cities?

The range of papers in this session will not only allow us to explore these themes using a variety of evidence, but to consider regional and temporal differences in experiences of urban life across Europe. Papers which combine different strands of evidence, to explore the role of artefactual and/or environmental assemblages in answering these questions are particularly encouraged.

By moving beyond the characterisation of urban landscapes, this session will begin to question what it was to be urban in medieval Europe, whether a single conceptualisation of this phenomenon can be reached, or if instead the study of this material leads to an acknowledgement of heterogeneity.

Digital Africa

I promised more African related news the other day.  This is perhaps a little less exciting than the other, but still showcases an important development in African Zooarchaeology in its own way.

The 8th Annual African Research Day (AARD) takes place at UCL on 25th-26th November.  At a number of conferences over the past few years it has become increasingly apparent to me, and to others, that the African zooarchaeology community is extremely disparate and can often feel very isolated.  One way to help bridge the geographical gaps between researchers is to make better use of the internet.  At AARD, I shall be co-presenting a poster (with Jim Morris) which introduces one such way to do this – the use of a social network for African zooarchaeologists.  The poster is entitled “iCommunication in African Zooarchaeology” and I have uploaded a copy to my Academia profile.  A copy of the abstract can be found below.

lion skeleton


iCommunication in African Zooarchaeology

The zooarchaeology of the later prehistoric periods in Sub-Saharan Africa is an area which has seen renewed focus in recent years, with sessions on the subject organised at major international conferences in 2008 (SAfA – Frankfurt), 2010 (ICAZ – Paris) and 2012 (SAfA – Toronto). This renewed attention by a new generation of scholars, and their meeting at conferences, has led to an awareness of a need for easier information exchange and support frameworks in an often isolated and disparate community. This poster presents a new internet platform for networking and academic support, creating an online home for that community.