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Bates M.R.,University of Wales Trinity Saint David | Champness C.,Oxford Archaeology | Haggart A.,University of Greenwich | Macphail R.I.,University College London | And 3 more authors.
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2014

This paper discusses the results of the investigation of Pleistocene sediments at the Royal Oak Portal (ROP) site on the new Crossrail scheme near Paddington Station, London. The site was sampled and recorded in May 2011 by archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology commissioned by Crossrail Ltd. The investigation revealed a sedimentary sequence associated with cool climate waterlain deposition towards the edge of the River Westbourne floodplain. During excavation an assemblage of around 100 identifiable large mammal bones was recovered, dating to the Late Pleistocene. The major concentration of bones, from bison and reindeer, was located and excavated from a shallow sequence of sediments. Analysis of the bones indicates that they represent a natural death assemblage, scavenged and subsequently disarticulated, transported by water, exposed and further dispersed and broken by trampling. The site is of regional and national importance because the assemblage derives from a well-constrained geological context, with associated dating evidence suggesting accumulation during the later parts of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 and continuing within MIS 4. The site is also of significance because it is one of a growing number of recently discovered sites away from the main fluvial archive for the British Middle and Upper Pleistocene. These sites have the potential to add significantly to our understanding of parts of the Pleistocene record that remain difficult to document through the investigation of the more active systems associated with major rivers such as the Thames, Severn or Trent. © 2013 The Geologists' Association.

Bates M.,University of Wales Trinity Saint David | Pope M.,University College London | Shaw A.,University of Southampton | Scott B.,The British Museum | Schwenninger J.-L.,Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art
Journal of Quaternary Science | Year: 2013

In 2011, a programme of field research was undertaken to effect the stabilization of an unstable section in the West Ravine at the key Neanderthal occupation site of La Cotte de St Brelade on the Channel Island of Jersey. As part of this essential remedial work the threatened section was analysed to characterize its archaeological and palaeoenvironmental potential as well provide optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates. The work determined, through two concordant OSL dating programmes, that the section formed part of an extensive sequence of sedimentation spanning >105 to <48 ka. Furthermore, reanalysis of the archive determined that the sediment sequence examined contained the stratigraphic equivalent of deposits lying below those that have previously produced Neanderthal fossils. Through our work, we can now constrain these younger sediments to being younger than 48 ka. The combined results suggest that this sequence now represents the recovery of an extensive dataset, thought lost to science through complete excavation, which holds the potential to throw light on the disappearance of Neanderthal populations from the Atlantic-edge outpost on the north-west frontier of their world. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Morero E.,Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art | Procopiou H.,University of Paris Pantheon Sorbonne | Vargiolu R.,CNRS Tribology and Dynamic Systems Laboratory | Johns J.,University of Oxford | Zahouani H.,CNRS Tribology and Dynamic Systems Laboratory
Wear | Year: 2013

Fatimid art is known for the production of luxury artifacts, particularly rock crystal vessels. The appearance in 2008 of the Francis Mills Ewer, which seemed to belong to a famous group of 6-8 rock crystal ewers attributed to Fatimid Egypt, prompted an investigation of the techniques used to carve them. A comparison of the carving technique of the Francis Mills Ewer with that of the other members of the group offers the best criterion for determining whether the new ewer belongs to this group. To this end, the traces of manufacture (mainly polishing and carving) were analysed on a group of fourteen artifacts. The topography of the surfaces has been measured with a confocal rugosimeter using silicon replicas. To identify and characterise the multi-scale wear signature and the traces left by the tools, a Fourier isotropic filtering technique was applied. Using these complementary methods, we were able to confirm that the Francis Mills Ewer belongs to the Fatimid group. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Procopiou H.,Paris-Sorbonne University | Morero E.,Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art | Vargiolu R.,CNRS Tribology and Dynamic Systems Laboratory | Suarez-Sanabria M.,CNRS Tribology and Dynamic Systems Laboratory | Zahouani H.,CNRS Tribology and Dynamic Systems Laboratory
Wear | Year: 2013

Stone polishing techniques, a deep reaching technical innovation, appeared in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Neolithic period and were generalised during the Bronze Age. Our team wanted to find out what specific techniques were employed but also which criteria were applied by prehistoric craftsmen to evaluate polished surfaces. Ethnographic data suggested that craftsmen used visual and haptic criteria during polishing and that apprenticeship required highly developed sensory abilities. In order to analyse these abilities, we studied traditional stone polishing at Mahabalipuram (India, Tamil Nadu) and observed, as craftsmen pointed out to us, that the more skilful ones "measure with their hands". The surface topography of polished samples was measured with an interferometer and a confocal rugosimeter. Polish has been identified by a multi-scale analysis based on the 2D method of continuous wavelets transform (CWT). Finally, the research team considered the sensorial perception of the polish by using an "haptic tribometer". Using this methodology we were able to show that technical choices occurring are closely related to the colour and the texture of the surface desired, for aesthetic reasons. Coming back to the archaeological record, our team was able to identify similar types of polish: some workshops (Egypt) produced mainly smooth and mat surfaces, some others (Crete) rougher but more shiny ones. This variability suggests cultural influence on the perception of surfaces within the prehistoric eastern Mediterranean. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Bates M.R.,University of Wales | Briant R.M.,University of London | Rhodes E.J.,University of California at Los Angeles | Schwenninger J.-L.,Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art | Whittaker J.E.,Natural History Museum in London
Proceedings of the Geologists' Association | Year: 2010

The unique Middle and Late Pleistocene sedimentary record preserved along the Sussex/Hampshire Coastal Corridor between Romsey and Brighton contains a wealth of deposits including highstand marine sediments associated with a variety of different aged beaches, fluvial sediments associated with rivers crossing the coastal plain and cold stage deposits accumulating above the marine and fluvial sediments. Although quarrying activity has been extensive across much of the area it has been undertaken in flooded workings due to the high level of the watertable. Consequently little is known in detail about the sequences except where they outcrop on the foreshore around the coast. This paper examines recent work from the lower coastal plain using a multi-disciplinary approach these deposits to elucidate the age of the sequences and their associated environments of deposition. OSL dates from two of the beaches, the Aldingbourne and Brighton/Norton Beaches, place both within MIS 7. Although these OSL dates cannot differentiate between sub-stages within MIS 7, coupling these results with inferences from local geography, lithology and contained microfossils it is clear that the beaches belong to two different phases within MIS 7. These two beaches are clearly divided by a major phase of erosion and downcutting associated with a fall in sea-level. Fluvial sediments from Solent Terrace 2 and Arun Terrace 4 also date within MIS 7 and are tentatively ascribed to the downcutting event between the beaches. Together this information allows us to propose, for the first time, a robust independently dated framework for the lower parts of the coastal plain integrating for the first time the marine and terrestrial record. © 2010 The Geologists' Association.

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