Author: Kathryn Krakowka

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Science Notes – Studying the stones of Stonehenge

Lithological provenancing has featured heavily in the pages of Current Archaeology recently. In one of last month’s features, we discussed the recent evidence behind the potential origins of the Stonehenge bluestones, and this month we are examining the source of the monument’s celebrated sarsens. As we have yet to explore petrology or geochemistry within ‘Science Notes’, I thought it a good opportunity to rectify this and delve into the details of some of the techniques used for these projects.

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Examining Norman nutrition

A project – led by Dr Elizabeth Craig-Atkins from the University of Sheffield, and Dr Richard Madgwick and Dr Ben Jervis from the University of Cardiff – has examined the impact of the Norman Conquest on diet. Using finds excavated in Oxford and dated to between the 10th and 13th centuries, the team applied a multiproxy analytical approach, combining ceramic residue analysis, isotope analysis of both human and animal bones, incremental isotope analysis of tooth dentine, and palaeopathological analysis of skeletal remains.

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Searching for the Storegga tsunami in Doggerland

The Storegga tsunami, caused by the sudden shift of a Scotland-sized section of the seabed off the coast of modern-day Norway, raged across the North Sea approximately 8,150 years ago. Archaeological evidence for this event has been found in onshore sediments across western Scandinavia, in parts of north-east Britain, and even as far away as Greenland. But, although models of the tsunami suggest that it possibly affected parts of the southern North Sea, no concrete evidence for it had been found in this region – until now.

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Science Notes – Radiocarbon dating gets a facelift

Every few years, the radiocarbon calibration curve used to determine the calendar dates of almost all 14C measurements gets updated. The last recalibration was in 2013. Called IntCal13, it was based on 7,019 raw data points. This year, a major revamp – one of the biggest since its inception – has taken place and the new IntCal20 now takes into consideration more than 12,900 measurements. As with previous versions, the separate curves for samples from the Southern Hemisphere (SHCal20) and from marine reservoirs (Marine20) have also been updated. In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we break down the history of these curves and dissect some of IntCal20’s new ‘features’.

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From Augustinians to Eboracum at York Guildhall

With construction work continuing during the lockdown, the York Archaeological Trust (YAT) has remained busy. Since last September, they have been excavating and monitoring the North Annexe area of the city’s Guildhall during redevelopment of the site by VINCI Construction UK.

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All in the family: genetic links in prehistoric Ireland

A project, headed by researchers from Trinity College Dublin, has sequenced the DNA of more than 40 individuals excavated from both Mesolithic and Neolithic funerary contexts across Ireland. The results illuminate not only the Irish transition to an agrarian way of life but also the social hierarchies that might have formed during this time.

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Science Notes – Parasites and poo at Must Farm

In this month’s ‘Science Notes’, we dive into the world of palaeoparasitology, and examine what the study of faecal matter can tell us about human health and behaviour in the past. While we may not like to acknowledge it, humans play host to a large number of parasites. Which parasites affect us and how they influence our health, however, can vary wildly based on our diet, living conditions, and other environmental factors.

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Buried secrets revealed at Dinas Dinlle coastal fort

August saw the first ever archaeological excavation to be carried out at the iconic north Wales prehistoric coastal fort of Dinas Dinlle, owned by the National Trust. The hillfort, which is mentioned in the Welsh legends of the Mabinogi, is being dramatically cut by coastal erosion. Between 20m and 40m of the western side has […]

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