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A unique engraved shale pendant from the site of Star CarrIn 2015 an engraved shale pendant was found during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, UK. Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare, with the exception of amber pendants from southern Scandinavia. The artwork on the pendant is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain; the 'barbed line' motif is comparable to styles on the Continent, particularly in Denmark. When it was first uncovered the lines were barely visible but using a range of digital imaging techniques it has been possible to examine them in detail and determine the style of engraving as well as the order in which the lines might have been made. In addition, microwear and residue analyses were applied to examine whether the pendant showed signs that it had been strung or worn, and whether the lines had been made more visible through the application of pigments, as has been suggested for some Danish amber pendants. This approach of using multiple scientific and analytical techniques has not been used previously and provides a methodology for the examination of similar artefacts in the future.
Virtually dead: digital public mortuary archaeologyOver recent decades, the ethics, politics and public engagements of mortuary archaeology have received sustained scrutiny, including how we handle, write about and display the archaeological dead. Yet the burgeoning use of digital media to engage different audiences in the archaeology of death and burial have so far escaped attention. This article explores categories and strategies by which digital media create virtual communities engaging with mortuary archaeology. Considering digital public mortuary archaeology (DPMA) as a distinctive theme linking archaeology, mortality and material culture, we discuss blogs, vlogs and Twitter as case studies to illustrate the variety of strategies by which digital media can promote, educate and engage public audiences with archaeological projects and research relating to death and the dead in the human past. The article then explores a selection of key critical concerns regarding how the digital dead are currently portrayed, identifying the need for further investigation and critical reflection on DPMA’s aims, objectives and aspired outcomes.
Vlog to death: Project Eliseg's video-bloggingProject Eliseg involved three field seasons (2010–12) of survey and excavation at the multi-period mortuary and commemorative monument known as the Pillar of Eliseg, near Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales. Each season incorporated an evolving range of media and public engagement activities, with digital media employed to disseminate ongoing work both globally and locally, including to those unable to access the site during the excavation seasons. One of the key strategies employed via digital media in seasons 2 and 3 was a daily video-blog (hereafter: vlog). This article presents and appraises the rationale, design, content and reception of the Project Eliseg vlog revealing key lessons in the use of digital media in archaeological fieldwork, particularly for those engaged with the archaeology of death, burial and commemoration.