I’m currently at the 39th International Symposium on Archaeometry in
Leuven, Belgium, where I have a poster to present. I’ll be writing a
proper conference review when I return, but in the mean time I’ll be
making informal collections of the tweets and discussing the conference
here on a daily basis using Storify. The following is from Tuesday; you can find Monday’s here.
The second day of the conference was entirely devoted to Metals and metallurgical ceramics, and was organised by Thilo Rehren. Full details of the posters and papers, including abstracts, can be found in the Scientific Programme PDF.
39th International Symposium on #Archaeometry: “50 years of ISA” is on twitter! Follow @ISA2012Leuven & #archaeometry2012 or #ISA2012Leuven
We started to get some more interest in ISA over twitter, which I think is a positive thing. Archaeometry/archaeological science is sometimes criticised for not engaging with archaeologists from other specialisations/paradigms, and Twitter is a good way of raising the profile of our work with other open-minded and technology aware archaeologists.
Today will be pretty non-stop, from the first paper at 9am through to end of Anniversary Reception at 9pm. #Isa2012Leuven
It was a very long day, but as someone who primarily studies metals and metallurgical debris, I was extremely excited by the range of papers. I was sad that there were no papers on precious metals, but there were a wide selection of presentations covering copper alloy and iron use across a period of 5000BC to 1500AD.
First paper of the day, @milaiana Radivojevic et al presenting v exciting evidence for earliest tin bronze c.5K BC #Isa2012Leuven
Although many of the authors gave references on their abstracts, which I tried to share, I was surprised that some of them gave little or none at all. Considering the number of years it takes to get conference papers published, it’d be useful to be able to read background or lead-in work somewhere.
Angelini et al discussing a very thorough muli-technique analysis of some complex Chalcolithic copper debris #Isa2012Leuven
This was one of a number of papers which showed petrographic images of slag, which I used to think was quite a rare technique. However after seeing the beauty and clarity of some of the images, I am keen to try this myself!
FMI on Spanish Chalcolithic copper production see Colpani et al in Proc.ISA 2006, pub 2000, 367-374. #Isa2012Leuven
This was another paper which tackled a material/cultural context which had not seen much research before. However some information on early Peruvian copper smelting can be found in Epstein’s 1993 PhD thesis from the University of Pennsylvania.
Really excited about Shadreck Chirikure paper which argues against usually assumed gender divides in African metallurgy #Isa2012Leuven
Shadreck was one of the most entertaining presenters of the conference so far; not only did he make the audience laugh, but he gave a strong and clearly explained, meaningful anthropological/archaeological interpretation for his scientific work. I was really pleased to see a paper like this at an often methodological or data-dominated conference.
Benjamin Roberts of @britishmuseum now presents redebate on Bronze Age metal spread using established data #Isa2012Leuven
Roberts presented an overview of his work trying to show how the adoption of various forms of copper alloys and iron took place over time and space. A number of attendees mentioned individual sites which went against the trends he was proposing, but I was more interested in whether his broad-brush approach of making statements about widely differing types of culture and interaction was viable. It was good to see a synthetic paper presented here, and it raised important questions beyond the usual single site/material analysis.
On to Kristina Franke comparing use of pXRF and WDS to comment on the pXRF limitations #Isa2012Leuven
Having met Christina and heard her present at the Historical Metallurgy Society’s last Research in Progress Meeting I was extremely pleased to see her at ISA. Christina is a gold/silversmith by profession, rather than an archaeologist, and undertook a PhD which involved considerable research and replication Minoan vessels. I was very happy to see a non-scientist non-archaeologist invited to present at ISA, and she presented some new information on the technology, the physical practice and the tools used.
RT @RuthFT: Really excellent cross-over work by Christina Clarke with experimental, experiential, craft and science #Isa2012Leuven
ISA always runs poster sessions on the four full days of the conference, with two days for each theme and a full hour after lunch and before the oral papers start for authors to be present at their posters to answer questions and discuss them with other attendees.
poster opgehangen bij #ISA2012Leuven over isotopenonderzoek in de Nederlandse archeologie. Nu maar hopen op veel respons! #archeologie
David works for English Heritage, and presented some 60 analyses of different slag, ore, ceramic and iron pieces produced during an experimental smelt. I was extremely interested to see the quantity of variation in the raw materials and the slag fragments, and very pleased to hear David encourage archaeometrists to talk more with the many crafts/people with established experience in ancient technologies.
RT @RuthFT: David Dungworth’s paper is fantastic! So pro experimental! And fantastic analytical data. #Isa2012Leuven
I met Tom at a site in Austria last year, but I wasn’t prepared for the level of hard statistics he was going to bring to ISA! His paper took a very thorough look at various aspects of provenancing using trace elements.
Toms work is looking at provenancing iron from bog iron ores, using Crews experimental work #Isa2012Leuven
There are a number of people based in French labs looking at tracing the shift from iron produced in a bloomery to that produced in blast furnaces, and Maxime’s work comes from some of that. Cathedrals and large churches are some of the best areas for looking at this, as they contain massive structural iron fixtures which can be dated to the well-documented phases of construction of the Cathedrals.
And now Filomena Salvemini et al on quantitative and 3D mapping of Japanese blades #Isa2012Leuven
This presentation was extremely popular, and had immediate visual appeal supplemented by some absolutely fantastic videos of neutron imaging of objects. The first one was of a Moka pot boiling, where it was possible to see through the metal of the pot and watch the water bubbling up within.
Neutron imaging is very cool, showing areas of slag inclusions etc as well as corrosion #Isa2012Leuven
David Killick was originally billed as the key note speaker, but unfortunately he was not able to be present and instead Mark Pollard presented his vision of where archaeometallurgy should go over the next fifty years.
Pollard is arguing for reuse of old data as easiest source rather than new tech/theory #Isa2012Leuven
Pollard had some very strong opinions about the use of legacy data, which I think were interesting and certainly got people talking. I certainly agree with his position that we need to fully publish all our data and to share it with each other openly. As he said, we all have colleagues who are remarkably difficult to pursuade to share data, and I think that’s a real loss in many cases.
Pollard wants to make giant database of all Bronze Age analyses to share with all #Isa2012Leuven
As is traditional at ISA, the two venues/organisers competing to host the next symposium gave brief presentations to try and win the votes of the attendees. ISA alternates between Europe and North America, so ISA 2014 will be in the US: the choice was Philadelphia with Rob Sternberg of Marshall College at Drexel University, or Los Angeles with Marc Walton and Ionna Kakoulli at UCLA and the Getty Institute.
After an excellent day of lectures we were treated to a reception celebrating 50 years of #archaeometry
Following that we were treated to a reception at the province house Vlaams-Brabant celebrating 50 years of ISA. This included a number of speeches by founder members, and a discussion of the history of ISA and its birth as a place for owners of magnetometers to meet and discuss their work.
MT @ISA2012Leuven: Prof Martin Aitkin (founder of #archaeometry) & Prof Mike Tite gave excellent speeches #archaeometry2012 #ISA2012Leuven