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Experimental Archaeology Conference, Oxford, UK

Friday, 10 January, 2014 to Saturday, 11 January, 2014
Theresa Kamper
Number of Participants / Visitors / Audience: 

I attended the 8th Experimental Archaeology Conference in Oxford, UK January 10th and 11th 2014 with an interest in the higher science aspects of some of the papers being presented, notably the work being done with stable isotopes and organic residue analysis of pottery and how this research was being integrated into experimental archaeology. The papers presented were fantastic and were a great example of how Openarch’s Dialogue with Science work package could be implemented. It was also fascinating to be given a tour of the lab facilities being utilised for some of this research at Oxford. When I returned to Exeter I reported on ideas covered at and generated by the conference.

In addition to the great papers given and the lab tours there were a number of exhibits where we could see the more practical aspects of the various research being demonstrated. Some highlights were making thread for sewing medieval shoes, drilling during the Mediterranean Bronze Age, preparing personal samples for stable isotope analysis, birch bark container construction, a flint knapping question and answer opportunity and a demonstration of how measurements may have been taken during the Neolithic.

The final day of the conference afforded us the opportunity to visit some of the local museums. I opted for the Pitt Rivers museum which boasted a vast array of artefacts from around the world, laid out in an unconventional organisational system. The artefacts were grouped based on technology type rather than age or geographic origin, meaning the fire making apparatus were in one group, baskets and nets in another. This made it very easy to directly compare different group’s technological solutions to the same or similar problem type.

As always, these conferences offer a great opportunity to renew contacts with members of other institutions and meet a whole range of new experimental archaeology enthusiasts.