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Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow: Hamburg Student Week at AOEZA

Sunday, 19 July, 2015 to Saturday, 25 July, 2015
Linda Hurcombe
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 
4 participants from the University of Exeter/ AOEZA staff members and volunteers, 35 students and 2 staff members from Hamburg University Audience over 800 visitors

The fourth stop for the Dialogue with Science was the Experimental Activity week held at the Steinzeitpark Dithmarschen in Albersdorf, Germany. This was the first year of collaboration between The University of Exeter, Hamburg University staff (Tosca Friedrich and Birte Meller) and students and the Stone Age Park. This collaboration provided over 800 visitors with a unique opportunity to observe and experience students acting as de-facto re-enactors within an open air museum setting. The Exeter participants spent time sharing knowledge accumulated during the Exeter workshops as well as personal expertise in a variety of technologies including cordage, textiles and weaving, a variety of skin tanning techniques and stone tool production and use wear data collection.

The University of Exeter team members also spent time learning skills such as arrow making and local edible plants from other Stone Age park staff members. These skills were later put to use during the six week Living Mesolithic Project also held in AOEZA during late July and August. The Hamburg students each had specific skills or projects that they focused on during the week meaning that some students worked closely with the Exeter team members if their research interests coincided. Some of these skills included flint knapping and brain tanning a roe deer skin. Many visitors and students made small segments of cordage from hemp or linen fibre for an ongoing project of breakage experiments intended to look at the part skill level plays in cordage strength. Many of the students also participated in the use wear studies by using both expedient and formal stone tools provided by the Exeter team members for a variety of personal projects. When the project was done or the tool no longer effective, they were returned to be analysed for microscopic use wear traces at a later date. The mutually –educational relationship between the three institutions helped to inform the general public about both experimental archaeology and how experiments fit into the greater context of the time periods displayed at the Steinzeit Park. The Exeter participants especially appreciated the close collaboration with their colleagues from Hamburg University who generously drew us unto their existing fieldwork and shared their accommodation with us. The cooperative nature of the Experimental Activity week was a resounding success and a similar collaboration is planned to continue in the summer of 2016.

Linda Hurcombe
Theresa Emmerich Kamper
Matt Swieton
Alice La Porta


Linda with a group of the Hamburg students.
Matt teaching flint knapping.
Softening skins.