Against the past’s erasure!


What is ‘archaeology’?

Some use the term to refer to practice: acts of performing methods and techniques of investigation in the field (e.g. excavating sites, surveying standing buildings and earthworks, the aerial reconnaissence of buried features) the lab (e.g. the analysis of pollen from core samples or the chemical analysis of ancient glass), and deskbased research (e.g. evaluating grey literature or writing new analyses and synthesis of archaeological contexts and sites).

Some see it as a discipline: modes of thinking and investigation to explore the material traces of people past and present that extends beyond and encapsulates historical research and tells stories written sources cannot, spanning from earliest times to the present.

These things are correct. Yet, as it has often been said, archaeology is nothing without people.

People past and people present – in dialogue through material and corporeal media. This includes bodies of ancient people themselves and their…

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Sign the Petition to save Archaeology and Heritage at the University of Chester


This archaeology professor needs you!

In a recent post, I identified that we are now fighting for our survival as a vibrant and innovative academic unit teaching and researching archaeology and heritage at the University of Chester.

This short update is merely to beg you to join our efforts and support us by signing this petition via the link below! Your support is most appreciated as the past matters to us all and defines who we are and who we will become.

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Where do we go from here?

Teaching Classics and Ancient History in HE

Kate Gilliver

Janus traditionally looked back to the old year and forward to the new, and like him we tend to do the same. Doing that now, like me you’re probably just glad to be out of 2020 and looking forward to something better from ’21.

When we went into that first lockdown last March there were feelings of confusion, despair, fear, but also of hope that when ‘normal’ did return it might be different somehow, might be better. Inevitably a lot of discussion’s already been generated about where we as educators go from here when we do head back to ‘normal’, from theTimes Higherandwonkhe, down to personal blogs and Zoom chat. HE teaching has been nothing like ‘normal’ for the last nine months and even for someone who’d switched to flipped learning several years ago and had a big head-start when it came to the…

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Dab and swipe it! Sponges and cloth used in feather conservation

In Their True Colors

1 Sofft tools sponge
2 Soot sponge
3 Cosmetic sponge
4 Hydrophilic sponge
4 Velux foam
5 Microfiber Cloth/Suede
6 Velvet/silk
7 Velvet/PE and Lycra
8 Evolon CR

Until the mid-20th century, bird skin and bird taxidermy was often cleaned with cotton cloth or cotton wadding and natural sea sponge (Greek:spongos). In fact, the sea sponge was usedfor body and household hygiene going back to ancient Greece.Today, a large variety of synthetic sponges and cloth is available to us. However, as our feather cleaning community survey of more than 100 conservation experts working in North- and South America, Europe and Australia showed, sponges and cloth for feather cleaning are more cautiously applied than brushes and vacuum.

Out of 90 people, 17 (18.89%) use sponges often, 32 (35.56%) sometimes, 29 (32.22%) rarely and 12 (13.33%) never. Out of 89 people, 19 (10.11%) use cloth often, 14 (15.73%) sometimes…

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Conserving Photographs on Glass

Glamorgan Archives

The National Coal Board collection at Glamorgan Archives contains around 4000 glass plate negatives, documenting coal mining in South Wales.  These glass plates illustrate a range of subjects concerning colliery life above and below ground.  As glass plates offered more dimensional stability in comparison to plastic supports, they are often found in large industrial collections containing lots of technical imagery and reproductions of maps and plans.

Although the supports provide more chemical stability than their cellulose nitrate and acetate counterparts, glass presents its own problems.  Deterioration can occur in glass, particularly older glass, because it contains water sensitive components which can leach out in fluctuating environments and closed microclimates.  As well as damaging the glass, this process of degradation can also affect the photographic emulsion.

figure 5An example of damaged emulsion

The main issues affecting the glass plate negatives in the NCB collection include broken plates and damaged emulsion.  The broken…

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On the definition of ‘Conservator’ and public perception

Cardiff University SHARE eJournal

I am a conservator. A vague statement, I know. As a vocation, conservation remains poorly defined, at least to those who do not find themselves within it. The issue of terminology has been exhaustively addressed [1]. Whilst those who are not employed within a particular profession often lack an understanding of that profession’s intricacies, they are at least familiar with what is involved. As an example, most know what one means when someone refers to her or himself as an ‘Archaeologist’. The implicitly known (excavating old things, studying those things), the imagined (Lara Croft or Indiana Jones), and the inaccurate (…dinosaurs…) create a visceral image in the minds of people who are not archaeologists. Archaeologists will often reduce their profession to the implicitly known because, though overly simplistic, it is not inaccurate. They will not explain to the layperson, however, about Harris matrices, geomorphology, or post-humanism. An example from…

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