Dropping by and oats and rye at Lyminge

What better way to spend a fine summer’s day than visiting the fine fields of south-east Kent? Where the fields are ripe with swaying golden corn, and Anglo-Saxon archaeology? Yes, it’s Lyminge, and it was well worth spending seven+ hours on the train to visit this year’s dig. As ever, you can follow the story…

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Spelt… wrongly?

Q: What do you call a spelt grain in an Anglo-Saxon pit? A: Residual OK, so it’s not going to win any prizes at the Edinburgh Festival. Indeed, it’s not even a joke – it almost makes a serious point. You see, it’s all about the shadow – the spectre, even – of residuality that…

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Dung Awareness Day

Yes, it’s Dung Awareness Day (and I bet you didn’t even send a card). I don’t know if this will become an annual feature – probably not – but this time around it’s been inspired by the arrival of the new issue of Environmental Archaeology. It’s a special issue devoted to bioarchaeological research on animal…

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A cast of thousands

In the last thrilling instalment, I introduced my tangential involvement with the Lyminge Archaeological Project, and described how I spent a substantial slice of life examining large quantities of charred plant remains. So, what did I find? Well, the most striking thing about my assemblage is Sample 24 which, not to put too fine a…

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Curse of the Black Spelt

It was a cold, darkling evening in winter, and the Institute of Archaeology lay safely at anchor in Oxford harbour, sheltered in the lee of the Ashmolean. As the clock struck 7 bells, a visiting Captain – I mean, lecturer – took his stand upon the quarterdeck and delivered an engaging Powerpoint presentation. The subject:…

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More terraces

Not so long ago I blogged about recent research dating late antique terraces in the Iberian peninsula. Now I learn that another terrace system has been scientifically dated – this time, it’s researchers from the University of Cincinati applying optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating to the terraces of Petra, and finding that the system may…

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Weevils, beer, and a happy new year

Happy New Year, all you agricultural archaeology fans! If you’re new to Farming Unearthed, I’d like to extend a warm welcome, and invite you to browse some of my earlier postings. If you’re a more regular visitor, thank you for your continued interest! 2013 will, I hope, prove to be an exciting year for Farming…

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Casting pulses before swine

“No!” she cried. “Don’t sell your soul!” Such was one reaction I received upon suggesting that I might pursue stable isotope analyses in the future. Alternative reactions have leaned more towards the ooh-that-could-be-interesting end of the spectrum. This division is probably due to the fact that stable isotope analysis – while not exactly the newest…

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How fascinating is a buried soil?

If you read my last post, you’ll recall how I got excited about the impressive waterlogged remains of pressed grapes, hinting at agricultural change in 8th century Byzantine Italy. This time I’m staying in the 8th century but shifting onto Spanish soil. Soil, in fact, is the star of this show, but don’t let that…

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The unexpected interest of wet grapeskins

Those pondering how to reinvigorate the economy in 21st-century Britain may have been perusing the report recently published by Michael Heseltine. But I haven’t. I’ve been pondering how to reinvigorate the economy in 8th-century Italy, by perusing the report recently published by Paul Arthur and his colleagues (Arthur et al. 2012). The promisingly-titled “Roads to…

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