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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Who are you calling lazy?

One of the quirkier perks of studying agricultural history (and archaeology) is discovering unusual terms and phrases which, I’m sure, I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. So it is with “lazy beds.” I can’t even remember where I first read or heard the term, but it’s lodged itself firmly in my memory. It sounds vaguely like…

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Staddle up

Last week’s post was vaguely theoretical, and theoretically vague. This week, by contrast, I have decided to think about something altogether more solid and down-to-earth: staddlestones. The word may be familiar as a name for a place or building; I know it as the name of both a Grade II listed building in Oxfordshire and…

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Beating the bounds

The general topic of this blog is agricultural archaeology. But what exactly is agricultural archaeology? What should I be writing about? What sorts of finds, models or interpretations are relevant to this subject? It seems a straightforward question. However, the more I’ve ruminated, the more I’ve come to anticipate a rather complex answer. Meanwhile, I’ve…

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