You are here

The Dialogue with Science

This Work Package will focus on experimental archaeology and how larger-scale experiments, as co-operation between scientists from all participating countries, can contribute to make the visitor experience at archaeological open air museums even better.
Larger trans-national experiments are important, but there must also be a presentation aspect in the experiments, not just the scientific value. The experiments have therefore been defined in cooperation with experimental archaeology experts and universities, so that the experiments of this project add value and are not just replications of previous experiments. Students could be involved in these experiments and maybe include them in their thesis.

Suggested themes could be architecture, pyrotechnics, wood tar and pitch, but also intangible heritage aspects like social interaction in the past, role of sexes, child life and everyday life, et cetera.
Two or three large-scale projects should be carried out, and could focus on Iron smelting, bronze casting, plants & agriculture, textiles & weaving looms, architecture and stone working.
The target group of this Work Package are specialists from Universities, archaeologists, craftspeople and other academic institutions will be involved in this Work Package.

There is also a link to Work Package 3 (reconstructing intangible heritage) and Work Package 4 (skills) in this Work Package, and specialists from Universities and other academic institutions will be involved in these Work Packages. In this Work Package, there will also be an involvement from the EXAR organisation. Execution of each themed experiment should be at several locations within the partnership.

It is important to stress that experimental archaeology is not only about the tangible past, but based on experiments in tangibles, experimental archaeology should also work with the intangible past. Therefore, our constructed history will be documented in the same way as the experiments on tangible heritage.
In this Work Package, we will also look into how experiments can be carried out and used as part of the story telling and demonstrations (Work Package 3 and Work Package 4) for the public.

Activities and Products

A product for OpenArch is a tangible result of an effort (in time or money) to fulfill any of the goals set in the Work Plans. They are realised in connection with the project activities.

The life cycle of structures in experimental archaeology: an object biography approach

The focus of Archaeological Open-Air Museums (AOAMs) is to present both the tangible and intangible past to the public. The tangible parts of AOAMs are the archaeological remains and the reconstructions. The intangible and, in some respects the most interesting part of an AOAM, is the story of the people the museum represents. This volume explores the research and visitor agendas of structures and their life cycles as they are experienced by experimental archaeology projects and AOAMs.

The life cycle of structures in experimental archaeology: an object biography approach-publication

After the Kierikki conference University of Exeter is making a publication from the conference lectures which were focusing to constructuions.

Exeter Dialogue with Science Roadshow: Hunebedcentrum

The Hunebedcentrum was the tenth and final stop for the Exeter Dialogue with Science Roadshow.

Exeter Dialogue with Science Interactions

There have been running projects related to woodland management and resources, and basketry and plant use over the course of the Universities involvement in Openarch. In the closing phases of the Openarch project Exeter University has reviewed some of the ongoing projects and their development.

Plants as material culture:part of 'the missing majority' in prehistory

Linda Hurcombe presented Plants as material culture:part of 'the missing majority' in prehistory in Institiute of Prehistoric and Protohistoric

Exeter Visiting Master Craftsman: Morten Kutschera

Morten Kutschera is a specialist in Mesolithic period crafts especially flint knapping and tool manufacture and use. He was a participant in the flint knapping specialist ‘knap in’ at the Athra Gathering at Sagnlandet Lejre, Denmark which was the 3rd stop on the Dialogue with Science Roadshow.

Travelling to Iron Gates Regional Museum, Drobeta, Turnu Severin (RO)

During the last week of October (29th and the 30th of October 2015), archaeologists from the Iron Gates Regional Museum in Drobeta, Turnu Severin, have organized the second international symposium entitled "Drobeta - Archaeology and History"...

Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow: Archeon

A trip to Archeon Experimental Park in the Netherlands was arranged for 5 Master’s and 4 PhD students and Drs. Gill Juleff and Linda Hurcombe from the University of Exeter, UK.

Exeter Dialogue With Science Usewear analysis: Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) in Tarragona (Spain)

During October 2015 a small team from Exeter University visited the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) in Tarragona (Spain). The visit was organized by the group from Exeter University as the second visit to further collaboration with the Institute.

Rebuilding a Mesolithic hut

As part of the activities within WP3 and WP5, Archeon staff decided that one of the Mesolithic huts was in need of replacement.

Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow: La Ciutadella Ibérica de Calafell

In October 2015 a group of post graduate students from the University of Exeter visited La Ciutadella Ibérica de Calafell. This was the 8th stop for the Dialogue with Science Roadshow.

Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow: Archäologisches Freilichtmuseum Oerlinghausen

On the way to Northern Germany to participate in the Mesolithic Living project two of the Exeter Dialogue with Science team members, Linda Hurcombe and Theresa Emmerich Kamper stopped at the road shows’ 6th venue of the summer, Archäologisches Freilichtmuseum, in Oerlinghausen Germany.

Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow: Exeter Participation in the Mesolithic Living Project

Exeter Participation in the Mesolithic Living Project: During my 10 day stint at the Living Mesolithic Project at Albersdorf I had the chance to experience first-hand the day-to-day life-ways of an inhabitant of an early hunter-gatherer “village”.

Project "Mesolithic Living" in the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in Albersdorf

In summer 2015 the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in Albersdorf (Germany) organized for the first time a Stone Age Living Project in the area of the 2014 newly built "Mesolithic Settlement" site, in the form of both an educational programme and as an experiment.

Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow : Ancient Technology Centre

The Ancient Technologies Centre located in Cranborne, Dorset in the United Kingdom was the 5th venue for the Exeter University Dialogue with Science road show.

Exeter Dialogue With Science Roadshow: Hamburg Student Week at AOEZA

The fourth stop for the Dialogue with Science was the Experimental Activity week held at the Steinzeitpark Dithmarschen in Albersdorf, Germany.

Mobility and Transport in the Neolithic - Experimental Activity week in the Stone Age Park in Albersdorf

During the summer 2015 ca. 35 students from the Archaeological Institute of the University of Hamburg participated in the "Practical Archaeological Week" at the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen in Albersdorf.

Dialouge with Science Roadshow: Sagnlandet Lejre

The Athra Gathering held at Sanglandet Lejre: Land of Legends in Denmark was the third stop for Exeter’s Dialogue with Science road show.

Experimental Action: Rush Cutting with Linda Lemieux

On the seventh of July University of Exeter Team members met up with local expert basket maker Linda Lemieux to harvest Bullrush (Scirpus or Schoenoplectus lacustri.) at her rush bed on the Somerset Levels.

Article: Profiling an era. – the concept of empathic archaeology

To come straight to the point: anyone who thinks that multi-coloured history posters in schools are passé or ‘retro’, is mistaken. These posters are still the best way to create an image of the past. Since the golden age of historical painting and school history posters (1850-1950), historical art has changed a lot...

Tar burning workshop

As a follow up and further research and mediation were tar burning on Foteviken after the workshop in the Kierikki Stone Age Centre

Iron melting workshop

Iron production and blacksmith crafts is a strong and recurring mediation concept based on research. Every year since 2011 we have been doing a workashop with participating scientists and craftsmen from all over Europe under the leadership of our own blacksmith Łukasz Szczepański.

Exeter Dialogue with Science Roadshow: Foteviken

The OpenArch collaboration at Foteviken occurred when three Calafell staff were also visiting during the Viking Market-a major event at Foteviken. Our contribution was the Dialogue with Science Roadshow and was badged as Historical Workshops by Foteviken as a new venture.

Understanding wear from the workshop on “Residues and Hafting”. University of Liege (Belgium), 2-4 June 2015.

Alice La Porta attended the workshop on behalf of the Exeter usewear group and gives the following report as part of our Openarch actions on usewear and the function of tools..

Exeter Dialogue with Science Roadshow- Cardiff Heritage Craft Festival

This was the first venue for the Exeter Dialogue with Science Road Show (a series of final workshops involving public presentation).

New experimental roof in areas G and F ("The Amphorae House") of La Ciutadella Ibèrica of Calafell

One of the main challenges concerning management at La Ciutadella Ibèrica is the maintenance of the reconstructions. The climate conditions affect the structures so every year is necessary to plan a repair campaign.

Cordage experiment at La Ciutadella Ibèrica de Calafell


In June 2014, during the OpenArch conference in Kierikki (Finland), the delegates from the Department of Archaeology of the University of Exeter chaired a session about collaboration possibilities within the OpenArch partners linked to the workpackage the Dialogue with Science.

They prepared protocols on some aspects for a joint experimentation. La Ciutadella Ibèrica de Calafell was especially interested to collaborate in an experiment related to cordage with vegetal fibres.

March 2015: Exeter Dialogue with Science workshop 4 - Learning Craft Skills: Flintknapping

The outstanding, world-wide experience of Professor Bruce Bradley of course was the basis of the flintknapping for all three days. His theoretical and especially practical knowledge gave the fundamental understanding of...

February 2015: Exeter Dialogue with Science workshop 4 - Learning craft skills: Basketry and related plant management

The first evening Theresa Emmerich Kamper and Linda Hurcombe met Jasna Lesnjak (Calafell) and Elen Bowen (St Fagans, National Museum of Wales) to take them to a meal in the city centre overlooking the cathedral.

planning visit to St Fagans

We held a short meeting at St Fagans, National

Fur, skin clothing, textiles, cordage, touchable exhibits and plans

Linda Hurcombe and Theresa Emmerich Kamper went to Denmark and Sweden, and Linda Hurcombe also went to Cardiff St Fagans.

Jan 2015 Dublin Experimental Archaeology conference

With 240 participants and papers from across the globe this was a ‘grand’ meeting as the Irish might say. There was a lot of Openarch representation, Calafell, EXARC, Exeter, Foteviken, Kierikki, St Fagans...

Plan for rebuilding turf-roofed house

The turf-roofed Neolitihc house in Kierikki Stone Age village was rebuilt 2003 and it's now in a poor condition. That is why it has to be rebuilt in summer 2015.

November 2014: Exeter Dialogue with Science Workshop 4 - Learning Craft Skills: Hides and Tanning

Over the week of the 24th through the 28th of November 2014, an international group of students and OpenArch participants engaged in a skills workshop covering a number of animal skin tanning technologies. The main goal of the daytime activities centred on skills acquisition.

Kierikki OpenArch conference in June 2014

The VII Conference of OpenArch was taken Place in Northern Finland. The conference introduced to the archaeology of the Northern Finland and then focus on the value of the experimental approach to studying and presenting the past...

Experimental Archaeology Projects at Kierikki, Finland

Prior to the start of the Dialogue with Science conference at Kierikki, a research team consisting of Dr. Linda Hurcombe, Dr. Penny Cunningham, PhD researcher Theresa Kamper, Shipwright Brian Cumby and Shipwrights Assistant Tom Monrad-Hansen from the University of Exeter arrived in Kierikki to undertake...

Usewear Experiments Using Tools from Different Rock Types, Tarragona, Spain

My PhD project focuses on usewear analysis on vein-quartz based on tools found at the site of Gran Dolina in Atapuerca and the site of Payre in France. An experimental protocol was established in an effort to study this mineral.

Introducing OpenArch to the World’s largest Experimental Archaeology Conference

May 2014, 235 people met at the experimental archaeology conference in Burgos, Spain. EXARC was a coorganizer. It was an excellent opportunity to reach professionally interested people from regions of Europe and the World with a small EXARC or OpenArch presence...

Experiments on Stone Age Glue Types

The "Stone Age Hunter" of the Archaeological-Ecological Centre Albersdorf, the Educator Mr. Werner Pfeifer, tested different ways of and different materials for producing (possible) Stone Age Glue Types from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic time, which could have been used without ceramics.

From evidences to facts: the Iberian ironworking chain under an experimental perspective at the Iberian Citadel of Calafell

In November 2013, the technical staff at the Iberian Citadel took the decision to develop an experiment regarding iron working. After some meetings with researcher José Miguel Gallego who had made previous iron bloomery furnaces, we could finally have a proposal to be discussed in...

Movie: "Iberians: The Secret Of Iron"

"Iberians: The Secret Of Iron" is a documentary about Iberian ironworking processes based on the experimental archaeology works which took place at La Ciutadella Ibèrica de Calafell in April 2014. Both film and experiment are part of the EU Culture Programme OpenArch...

Palaeolithic Art: Practical experiences within classes

Linda Hurcombe taught a second and third year module on ‘Ancient Arts and Crafts’, Jan-May 2014. Students had covered both ‘Palaeolithic art’ and ‘craft skills’ in lecture classes but the OpenArch Dialogue with Science theme allowed us to explore how practical experience could benefit understanding...

Rock and Roll

A pilot experiment was conducted in 2010 as part of an ongoing research project exploring a novel way of moving large monuments across a landscape using wooden and/or stone balls (used like balling bearings)in grooved wooden rails.

Experimental Archaeology Conference, Oxford, UK

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...

December 2013: 3rd Exeter Workshop

From the 6-8th December 2013, OpenArch members from Sweden, Wales and England joined the Touching the Past Project (TTP) at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, for a Dialogue with Science workshop...

2nd International Conference on the Roman Danubian Provinces

In November 2013, Milica Tapavički-Ilić and Nemanja Mrđić travelled to Ferrara, Italy, to participate at the 2nd International Conference on the Roman Danubian Provinces.

Yesterday Today: Bronze Age connections in a modern world and presented a paper The Archaeology of Experiment

Linda Hurcombe attended the international ‘Yesterday Today: Bronze Age connections in a modern world and presented a paper 'The Archaeology of Experiment’

Experimental Action ideas from Students

In the winter of 2013-2014, students from Leiden University were given an assignment. They were to visit Archeon in the late season (october 2013) and work on ideas to develop new experimental actions within the context of the museum.

Growing a spelt crop

From the winter of 2013 to the summer of 2014, St Fagans National History Museum undertook an experiment to grow a crop of spelt wheat to be used as thatch for our Bryn Eryr roundhouses. The project had several goals...

Growing Iron Age wheat

The reconstruction of two large roundhouses is one of Amgueddfa Cymru’s most significant contributions to WP5 with construction work being programmed to begin in spring 2014. In preparation for this we have begun a large scale experiment to grow a crop of spelt for use in thatching the new structures...

Making log boat in Kierikki

During their staff exchange visit 5 members from Exeter university supervised by Dr Linda Hurcombe and shipmakers Brian Cumby and Tom Monrd Hansen did in four days a log boat from beginning to testing in water.

Air quality within reconstructed houses as an issue for staff, visitors and others

Due to the use of soilid fuels in open fireplaces, fireplaces with chimneys and/or ovens, in archaeological house reconstructions, there are a number of air quality risk factors that need to be considered.

Reconstructions and interpretation of Medieval Egg Tempera paintings

Archeon has started an exiting new project, linking historical and archaeological research to the visitors experience and interpretation of the past.

May 2013: 2nd Exeter Workshop

Exeter offers the 2nd Exeter Dialogue with Science Workshop, within the days 20 - 24 May. This workshop will explore the interaction of research and visitor agendas experienced by many experimental archaeology projects and archaeological open-air museums that present a variety of...

Creativity: An Exploration through the Bronze Age and contemporary responses to the Bronze Age

Linda Hurcombe attended the ‘Creativity: An Exploration through the Bronze Age and contemporary responses to the Bronze Age' at Magdalene College, Cambridge’

Cordage: Testing the use of yew withies on a Bronze Age sewn plank boat.

As part of the ongoing research theme of cordage, Tom Monrad Hansen explored the use and strength (with the engineering department at the University of Exeter) of withies made from Yew.

Experiments In Viminacium 2013

In the week between the 18th and the 22nd of March, two experiments shall be conducted at Viminacium. The first one includes planting (ungrafted) grapevine according to Roman customs. The second one includes a Roman cremation of the Mala Kopašnica...

Prehistoric Fish Trap Reconstruction

In Archeon, Alphen aan den Rijn a base settlement has been reconstructed, from the Mesolithic period of the hunter/fishermen and gatherers.

A double lecture at the University of Leiden

At the invitation of Mark van Driessen, professor at the University of Leiden, Marc van Hasselt en Hannah Fraza from Archeon travelled to the university to give a lecture about Archeon and the EU projects Archeon has been involved in, with special emphasis on OpenArch.

Reconstruction of medieval orthopaedic and dental treatment

In Archeon, one of the reconstructed houses is inhabited by the Medieval barber-churgeon. He is tasked with caring for the well-being of the inhabitants of Gravendam, who come to him for all sorts of care.

October 2012: 1st Exeter Dialogue with Science Workshop

The first Exeter dialogue with science workshop was very successful. Participants from Finland, Holland, Italy and Wales joined Exeter postgraduate students and staff for exchange of information, practice, and the pedagogies of experimental archaeology.

Transferring Science from University to Museum

During the summer 2012 27 students from the University Hamburg, Archaeological Studies, participated in a practical week at the Steinzeitdorf Albersdorf from the 18th-25th July 2012.

Production of Iberian ceramics (Protohistory)

Ibercalafell, one of our associated partners in OpenArch, have been carrying out an experiment related to Iberian ceramics production in Verdú, Catalonia, a town located in the province of Lleida in cooperation with the University of Lleida (through Recercaixa), the Centre d’Estudis Lacetans and La Ciutadella Ibèrica de Calafell.

Artificial sky testing of architectural model

To test the light levels that will be available in the proposed reconstructions of the Bryn Eryr roundhouses, due for construction at St Fagans in 2013.

Notes concerning the demolishing of the western end of a ten-year-old Stone age row house

Introduction. Building of the Kierikki´s Stone Age Village was started 1997. It was based on new information found from excavations at the area and elsowhere in Finland. Village is situated by the river Ii, in the middle of two neolithic excavation areas.

Felling, de-barking and notching pine trees with stone, bone and antler tools

Kierikki Stone Age Center was renovating and building new stone age style houses in summer 2012. This experiment was planned to get information how long would it take to get material for a timber framed stone age style house with stone age tools.

Building a reed-roofed section for a Stone Age row house

Notes from a project in Kierikki in summer 2012 – Building a reed-roofed section for a Stone Age row house. The project started at the beginning of May 2012. Construction plans for the new house were originally based on the information from the archaeological excavations in Korvala, Yli-Ii (Schultz 1999).

Human osteological material

Within WP5 (Dialogue with science), Ilija Mikić performed research on human osteological material from Viminacium. He examined several dozens of skeletnos from certain parts of different Viminacium cemeteries and discovered several rather interesting things.

Seminar at University Kiel, 2012

One of OpenArch’s associated partners is the University of Kiel. The director of AÖZA, Dr Rüdiger Kelm is a lecturer there.

Skinning, cutting and cooking a reindeer using only bone and antler tools

The experiment was designed and conducted by Kuttelo members Tuukka Kumpulainen, Jasse Tiilikkala, Matias Toivanen and Miika Vanhapiha. The tools used were made by Miika Vanhapiha, and pictures taken by Jasse Tiilikkala. The goal was to skin, cut and cook a reindeer using only Stone Age style bone and antler tools, to test how usable bone tools really are in processing prey.

The value and scale of experimental archaeology

Over the years of the project the workshops, seminars and conferences alongside visits and discussions with academic colleagues have all led to the accumulation of many examples of

Maintenance on site: designing and building the Bryn Eryr roundhouses

Designing and building Bryn Eryr. The designing and building of Bryn Eryr, a group of Iron Age roundhouses, has been one of the central contributions of St Fagans National History Museum to the OpenArch project.

OpenArch joins 7th UK Conference on experimental archaeology in Cardiff, 2012

The over 100 participants came from academia, archaeological open-air museums, skills backgrounds or otherwise. In the two-day conference they witnessed papers including themes like the Mary Rose kitchen, Stone Age halberds, medieval dental treatment, how warm is an Anglo Saxon house and spinning experimentation, to mention just a few. The papers and posters were very accessible and rarely overtly technical...

Partner meeting, York January 2012

Very soon after the first official contacts between the University of Exeter and OpenArch, we used the opportunity of Kierikki to be in the UK to let the two “experimental archaeology” partners meet in person.

Meeting prospective new partner with MT, Exeter December 2011

When OpenArch lost Biskupin, we started looking for a partner who could play an important role in developing

Everyday life of the past: primitive pottery making & burning

The experiment was designed and conducted by archaeologist Elsa Hietala with assistance by Miska Sliden. We decided to use Finnish red clay which is of the same kind as they used here in the Stone Age. Our goal was to try pottery burning on open fire and learn the process, since it has not been done in Kierikki before.

Everyday life of the past: Crafting a wooden anthropomorphic statue using wooden, stone and bone tools

The experiment was conducted in front of hundreds of visitors during the Stone Age Market event. The goal was to craft from start to finish a wooden anthropomorphic statue using only Stone Age tools made from wood, bone and stone and studying the demands of this activity on the tools and on the workers using them.

Workshop University of Hamburg August 2011

Over a period of four weeks, archaeology students from the University of Hamburg worked in experimental and public archaeology projects at Albersdorf. They have been dyeing (colouring) wool the prehistoric way, got some experience in bronze casting and built and used a bread oven.

Partner meeting, Calafell, March 2012

Taking advantage that both partners in this work package were in Catalonia, Kierikki & Biskupin met together with a representative of the MT to discuss how to handle

Llys Rhosyr Seminar

A large part of St Fagans National History Museum’s commitment to OpenArch centres around the reconstruction of a medieval court dating from the time of one of Wales’s most famous princes, Llywelyn ap Iorwerth.