Archaeology, Archaeology Conferences

ISA 2012 Leuven (Day 5 – Sensing, Prospecting, Field Archaeology, Colour and Culture, Glass 2)

  1. 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. There are also collections from Monday (Stone, Plaster, Pigments, Chronologies), Tuesday (Metals and Metallurgical Ceramics), Wednesday (Biomaterials and Bioarchaeology) and Thursday (Ceramics, Glasses, Glazes and Vitreous Materials).
  2. Details of the programme and abstracts for all of the oral and poster presentations can be found in the Scientific Programme PDF.
  3. RuthFT
    I am uncertain what quality of tweets I can raise today. Only five hours sleep. #ISA2012Leuven
  4. The morning session following the Conference Dinner has a reputation for being sparsely attended, and whilst a good hundred attendees were present there were notable absences amongst those colleagues we had left in the bar in the early hours of Friday morning!
  5. The first session of the day was Remote Sensing, Geophysical Prospection and Field Archaeology convened by Luis Barba.
  6. RuthFT
    Adrien Arles just presented on using photogrammetry and 3DsMax to mke 3D models of archaeological sites/features #ISA2012Leuven
  7. RuthFT
    Now we’re onto Cornelius Meye looking at geomagnetic prospection using large wheeled fluxgate gradiometers. #ISA2012Leuven
  8. Though this session had only three papers, remote sensing was actually the cradle for ISA. The Symposium developed out of a set of annual or near-annual meetings organised for archaeologist using or owning a particularly magnetometer. It’s a shame that so few papers were offered in this area, but geophysical archaeology does have its own meetings.
  9. RuthFT
    New demands on magnetic prospection require GPS, sensitivity, higher sample rates, use in mixed context #ISA2012Leuven
  10. After these papers we went straight into the second session on Human-Environment Interactions convened by Mark Pollard.
  11. RuthFT
    Amy Pendergast is up talking about the Hua Fteah cave: v important to understanding climat chnage c 22000 to 5500 BP #ISA2012Leuven
  12. This was a very interesting analysis of snail populations that was well presented. According to Amy snail populations can be used as a proxy for sea surface temperature, sometimes with a sub-monthly resolution. As a result she was able to say that the seasonality range of Late Pleistocene in North Africa was slightly higher than in the modern period, being cooler and drier with periods of aridity.
  13. RuthFT
    Helix melanostoma shells tell us about rainfall amount and what the snails ate #ISA2012Leuven
  14. Caught on camera in the process of live tweeting! I have to admit it was a shame that there were no other tweeters present at the conference. In past conferences I’ve really enjoyed the back-channel debates and conversations produced over twitter. It enables you to discuss the paper live without impacting the real-life presentation, and it really helps you engage critically and actively with the papers rather than just sit and passively absorb them.
  15. Throughout the morning attendees trickled into the hall, a number looking decidedly sleepy! Amy’s paper was followed by Eileen Eckmeier discussing human impact on soil formation and the change from natural to cultural landscape in NW-Germany.
  16. RuthFT
    Now Bert Dusar on a site that Leuven University is famous for working on: Sagalassos #ISA2012Leuven
  17. RuthFT
    Dusar and his colleagues have done hollistic study to look at how valley sedimentation fluctuated #ISA2012Leuven
  18. RuthFT
    Deforestation caused heavy erosion in first millennium BC, though there was time lag, most alluvium local #ISA2012Leuven
  19. By this point we were all gasping for a cup of coffee, so I think Carolyn Chenery et al had quite a hard audience, but she presented some important analytical work showing that sulphur isotope values in the UK are much higher in the coastal areas, impacting archaeological dating.
  20. RuthFT
    Carolyn says she calibrated against Broccoli: I have no clue what she’s referring to, but I’m guessing it’s not vegetables #ISA2012Leuven
  21. It is traditional at ISA to have at least one ‘special session’, which is usually a thematic session that looks at a particular issue or concept in materials analysis or archaeometry. This year it was Colour and Culture, and so after coffee we all returned for Colour and Culture 1 convened by Patrick Degryse.
  22. RuthFT
    First paper of special season is Ian Freestone etal talking about red medieval window glasses #ISA2012Leuven
  23. RuthFT
    Ian has identified a very complex process of making strong red glass from two weakly tinted glasses, very cool #ISA2012Leuven
  24. This session was very well attended, though there was the repeated problem of people not knowing what time to come back from coffee and as a result lots of people (myself included) trickled in late to Ian’s paper.
  25. For more information on Late Classical and Hellenistic painting materials see Kakoulli 2002 in Reviews in Conservation 3, 56-67, and Kakoulli 2009 Greek Painting Techniques and Materials from 4th-1st C BC, Archetype Publications.
  26. LeMoustier
    RT @RuthFT: Next up ritual practice in late Bronze Age glass by Andrew Shortland, looking for link between colour and power #ISA2012Leuven
  27. Andrew’s paper was really fascinating, and I got a real feeling that he was interested not just in analysing objects but in looking at their socio-economic contexts in order to generate real understanding of the motives and methods of production. He was looking at mid-to-late 18th Dynasty Egyptian glass, which he considered the height of glassmaking in ancient Egypt.
  28. RuthFT
    Shortland believes glass is the best material available in this period to express colour: nothing else as vibrant and strong. #ISA2012Leuven
  29. Andrew’s argument that colour choice in Egyptian glass was ritually driven got people talking, particularly as he suggested that the rippled/wave design on the blue and yellow glass vessels was actually an expression of the hieroglyph for water. He left us with a number of interesting ideas, including a suggestion that glass production may have been the domain of priests.
  30. LeMoustier
    RT @RuthFT: Argues cobalt blue is never mixed with other colours only because it is rituallly important, no technical reason not to #ISA2012Leuven
  31. After lunch and another hour to enjoy the posters we returned for Colour and Culture 2, convened by Dennis Braekmans.
  32. RuthFT
    Alpine Bonneau is first after lunch talking about pigment and colour in late stone age southern Africa rock art #ISA2012Leuven
  33. RuthFT
    At Les Bossats near Ormesson they have colouring material lumps with use wear marks, cool! #ISA2012Leuven
  34. Helene showed us that Neanderthals were producing pigments from rocks by a number of methods which included scraping them with a sharp point and concussion.
  35. Instead of a coffee break mid-afternoon, we went straight into the final session Glass 2 convened by Andrew Shortland which was the remainder of the glass sessions which had started the previous day. ISA does tend to have a bit of a punishing schedule, and the seven papers of the Friday afternoon were a bit hard going without a break!
  36. RuthFT
    Now we’re on the final glass session and I’m about to run out of power; after this the closing ceremony and #ISA2012Leuven will be finished!
  37. Papers in this session included Julian Henderson et al on trace element analysis of Islamic glasses; Thomas R Fenn et al on elemental and isotopic analyses of a variety of glasses; Roxana Bugoi et al on Byzantine glass bracelets; and Maria Cristina Caggiani et al on Swabian and Mamluk gilded and enamelled glass objects. These papers were really excellent and it was a shame that, being in the last slot of the afternoon, a number of attendees had already left for their long journeys home.
  38. The last part of the Symposium the announcement of the location of ISA 2014, which will be Los Angeles with Marc Walton and Ionna Kakoulli at UCLA and the Getty Institute. Looks like we’ll have to start saving now!
  39. crazydragonbks
    RT @ISA2012Leuven: #ISA2012Leuven would like to thank all of you for supporting us, as Mike Tite said, to all archaeometry students, past, present, and future.
  40. Whilst most people were heading straight home, my colleagues and I retired for a quiet dinner and a chance to sample a last lovely Belgian beer before a much needed early night. Thanks again to the organisers at Leuven for what was a well organised conference in a lovely location.

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