WARP30 Abstract/PowerPoint: Fading Visions–Future Values: Pathways to Engagement?

By Andrian Olivier

Olivers English Heritage Wetlands

The significance of wetlands for archaeology and cultural heritage has long been understood and reiterated repeatedly since the 1930s. Different strategies for improving understanding of wetland archaeology and managing the cultural heritage component of wetlands have evolved and been implemented (or not) with varying degrees of success over the intervening years. Discovery and excavation of well-preserved material within wetlands (or former wetlands) continue to astound and astonish both archaeologists and the public on a regular basis, and we have no difficulty using this material to tell new and exciting stories. Nevertheless, as a group, we still find it difficult to build the integrated management approaches that we have long espoused. With a few notable exceptions we have yet to achieve a real measure of active two-way public engagement with, and participation in wetland archaeology that delivers genuine public benefit in terms that the public understands, and which can be transformed into active public (and then political) support. Many of the problems and issues related specifically to wetland archaeology are being addressed, but of all challenges that continue to bear down on the natural and historic environments, perhaps the greatest is to understand why people seem to find it so difficult to look after their environment. In local contexts, and in the context of the Florence and Faro Conventions much is being achieved across Europe to build public engagement and participation in cultural heritage, and there is much that wetland archaeologists can learn from this. Perhaps it is now time to move away from all-embracing management strategies and visionary approaches and refocus our attention on how to use our unique source material in practice, not simply for outreach and communication, but to build real two-way public engagement that delivers actual and recognisable public benefit.

Olivers Gap between aspiration and practice
Gap between aspiration and practice….

To view Andrian Oliver’s Slide Notes and WARP30 PowerPoint click here:  PowerPoint Slide Notes and Adrian Olivier’s WARP30 PowerPoint

WARP30 Abstract/PowerPoint: Rivers in Prehistory: Human-Environment Interactions in the Making

By Andrea Vianello

Rivers have been the invisible “elephant in the room” in the archaeological literature, known to be there and even addressed directly in case of flooding or some other natural disaster, but largely absent from interpretations. Some rivers have been closely associated to specific civilisations, but the actual dynamics in the human-environment interactions are often too simplistic.

Andrea Vianello

Settling near rivers can provide some advantages, but rivers are characteristically diverse, geographically and with the varying of seasons and the passing of years, and generally unreliable in their patterns. This situation has always stressed the relationship that humans have had with rivers, and resulted in a variety of responses. Ultimately, rather than explaining a single event, unique or repeated in time, rivers need to be approached as a dynamic entity that prompted constant responses from humans. The dynamism of this relationship is essential, and a key differentiator with seascapes and other wetlands, which are usually static environment with very long spans in between any significant change.

After researching the role of rivers in ancient cultures, no single pattern has emerged, and even responses to the same event have been different. This diversity is perhaps the most accessible of human-environment interactions, one that is strong even today since many contemporary cities are crossed by rivers, which represent the only natural space within the urban environment. Life on rivers is certainly a wet one, as floods and temporary wetlands can be expected, challenging the notion that a (permanent) wetland is a separate or distinctive environment. Rivers seem therefore an ideal case to investigate these interactions and determine the role of the most important resource of all, water, in human life. By adopting a consistent method to investigate them, it is possible to include rivers in our interpretations.

To see Andrea Vianello’s WARP30 PowerPoint click here: Rivers in Prehistory: Human-Environment Interactions on the Making

WARP30 Abstract/PowerPoint: An Infrastructure Project in Sweden: Alvastra Pile-Dwelling


Nathalie Hinders, Gregory Strand Tanner, and Jackie Taffinder

Abstract: The Alvastra pile-dwelling is a wooden platform in the middle of a mire connected to the mainland by a wooden causeway. The platform is surrounded by a fence or palisade of oak piles driven into the ground. It was built around 3000 BC in the Dags Mosse mire, Alvastra, in the province of Östergöt-land. The wooden platform was the scene of large-scale ritual activities, activities that are focused on the meeting of cultures.

The Alvastra pile-dwelling was excavated the first time from 1909 until 1930 by Otto Frödin. The results of this excavation were published in 2011 by Hans Browall. The second excavation was conducted between 1976 and 1980 by a group of archaeologists from Stockholm University under the leadership of Professor Mats Malmer. The results have, for various reasons, never been published in their entirety. As this is such an important site, the inaccessibility of the material has held research into the cultural relations of the Neolithic back. It is thus of vital importance that the material be made accessible to the archaeological community.

Jackies field mapJackies field photo

Field maps and photograph from Stockholm University excavations

 The pile-dwelling is for several reasons of great archaeological significance, both nationally and inter-nationally:

  • At this place two archaeological cultures are represented – the Pitted Ware Culture and the Funnel Beaker Culture
  • This site is fixed in time. The more than 800 piles used to build this platform can be related to each other by their tree rings. They represent 42 years, a floating chronology, which has also been attached to calendar years by numerous radiocarbon dates
  • Because of the waterlogged conditions in this mire, organic material has been preserved in unusually large amounts – tools of bone and antler, wooden objects apart from the piles in the platform, apples, carbonized grain, tinder mushrooms, human bones and animal bones
  • The non-organic material excavated from the site consists ofpotsherds, flint tools and stone tools of various kinds. It is diverse and very rich, making many different kinds of archaeological research possible. Other research is also possible, for example climatic change. Much ongoing genetic research is based on the human bones but much remains to be done on the other kinds of material

In 2014 the Swedish History Museum and the Department of Archaeology at Stockholm University was granted funding by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences to digitize the assemblages from the 1976-1980 excavations and to construct a research platform for the Alvastra pile-dwelling site, i.e. to provide an infrastructure for research. The project was launched in April 2015 and will work for three years to make the assemblages digitally available and to collect all available resources in a digital platform accessible from the home page of the Swedish History Muse-um. This paper is a presentation of an infrastructure project in Sweden. The paper will describe the project and present what has been done so far.

To see the WARP30 PowerPoint of project click here:  Alvasta Pile Dwellings Sweden

WARP30 Abstract/PowerPoint: Wooden Circles in the Final Jomon Period of Japan

By  Naoto Yamamoto, NewsWARP Asia Coordinator

Nagoya University

Naoto hypothetical restoration of Wooden Circles--Mawaki Site
Hypothetical restoration of Wooden Circles–Mawaki Site, Japan

Abstract:  Wooden circles were constructed during the final Jomon Period in Japan (c. 3300-2500 cal BP). They consist of 6, 8 or 10 poles arranged in a circular configuration of 6 to 8 meters in diameter and have been excavated in the Noto peninsula region and the Toyama bay region, Central Japan. These poles are made of large chestnut (Castanea crenata) logs which were split in half, and their cut surfaces are always oriented outward. A pair of these poles seems to form a gate-like structure. The upper parts of the structure were almost completely decayed and lost; the base of logs were preserved and examined.

Naoto Wooden Circle of the Mawaki site 2004 (c) 2006 Board of Education of Noto Town
Wooden Circle of the Mawaki site 2004 (c) 2006 Board of Education of Noto Town

Although the wood circles have been documented at 16 sites, 12 of them included large pits arranged in a circular configuration without poles or only wooden poles without pits. Direct evidence of wood circles are found at only 5 sites; Chikamori, Mawaki, Yonaizumi, Sakura-machi and Teraji. The wood-en circles date from c. 3000 cal BP to 2540 cal BP. The circles from c. 3000 cal BP were 6 meters in diameter and the diameter of the remaining poles are about 45 centimeters. The examples from c. 2800 cal BP were 8 meters in diameter and the diameter of the remaining poles are about 80 centimeters. The people of the Jomon period were hunter-gather-fishers. According to recent studies, the cultivation of rice in paddy fields was introduced from the Korean peninsula c. 2900 cal BP. Research by Dr. Imamura proposes that it was cooler from c. 2800-2670 cal BP. Based on my original analysis, this paper presents new interpretations of these wooden circle features. Questions regarding the function and reconstruction of these features, including the question of whether they were buildings or ceremonial wood circles, are explored here.

To view Naoto Yamamoto’s Slide Notes and WARP30 PowerPoint click on Naoto Yamamoto’s Slide Notes  and Wooden Circles in the Final Jomon Period of Japan WARP30 PowerPoint

WARP30 Abstract/PowerPoint: Waterlogged Sites in Florida and the Broader Picture

By Barbara Purdy, University of Florida

Purdy ancient canoe
Examining Ancient Florida Dugout Canoe

Florida has many waterlogged sites, some of great antiquity and diversity. In this paper, I show exam-ples from these sites – Windover, Hontoon Island, Lake Monroe, Belle Glade, Fort Centre, Key Marco, canoes – and discuss briefly their significance, contributions to an understanding of Florida’s herit-age, broader connections, and their present condition. Sadly, Florida has swept much of its wetlands heritage under a grid of busy streets.

In late March 2016, international news sources reported the wanton destruction of ancient stone monuments by militant groups. The entire civilized world was aghast. Yet, almost daily, the environmental and cultural heritage entombed in waterlogged archaeological sites is demolished by ambitious dredging, draining, and development projects. The repercussions of this situation are not known or understood by the general public. The ethnographic and ethnologic information lost when water-saturated sites are destroyed far exceeds that of stone sculptures and pillars. I have been involved with and concerned about the invisible heritage of wetlands for fifty years, beginning with the Ozette site on the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. I challenge WARP members from diverse areas to tell their stories in a way that will bring global attention to this situation. Perhaps we should put together a non-technical, broadly publicized book with lots of pictures aimed at an audi-ence of interested adults and young people, as well as government and business enterprises.

To see Barbara Purdy’s WARP30 PowerPoint click here:  Waterlogged Sites in Florida and the Broader Picture

Purdy historic canoe
Ethnographic Drawing of Florida Dugout Canoe