Heritage Week 2016 Event!

Reconstructed corn-drying kiln, Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, Wexford,

Feeding the Ancestors: the importance of corn-drying kilns in preserving the medieval harvest.
How did our ancestors preserve and prepare crops for storage? Archaeologists Susan Lyons and Orla-Peach Power demonstrate Ireland’s only functioning corn-drying kiln using authentic fuels and cereals.

Time: 14.30 to 16.00
Organised in association with the Irish National Heritage Park.
Booking is advised. Please contact info@inhp.com, 053 9120733 or Bernice.Kelly@tii.ie


Major Archaeobotany Conference

A major archaeobotany conference will take place soon in Paris. The 17th meeting of the International Workgroup for Palaeoethnobotany starts on 4th July, and it will see hundreds of archaeobotanists coming together for one week to discuss the latest research in the discipline. The event will be hosted by the National Museum for Natural History — a really lovely venue. Some of our members in EAI will be in attendance, promoting Irish research in front of a large international audience.

Investigating Past Environments Through Experimental Archaeology

Viking house under construction at UCD (Image: Prof. Aidan O’Sullivan)

In environmental archaeology, lots of our work is indoors in laboratories or libraries, but we do sometimes get outside! It is a lovely, sunny day in Ireland today, and many of us are hankering to work outdoors. One lucky group of colleagues is doing just that at the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture at University College Dublin.

This week, they are busy building a Viking-style house, using traditional tools, techniques and materials. EAI member, Dr Eileen Reilly, is one of the project leaders. Her expertise in environmental archaeology, particularly insects, will help the team understand the living conditions in Viking houses and materials used in construction of the houses. Later this summer, we hope Dr Reilly will write for this blog about her work on the project.

In the meantime, you can visit the Centre and see the house at the UCD Alumni Festival on Saturday 18th June 2016, where UCD archaeologists will be leading tours.

If you can’t get to Dublin, you can find regular updates on the project at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/UCDExperimentalArchaeology/.

Environmental Archaeology in Ireland: What Next?

The EAI conference is over, and we have spent the last few weeks drawing up a list of the big ideas and issues that emerged from our discussions. In the next few weeks, members of the EAI group will meet in Cork to agree on a way forward. What are our priorities for 2016? And what for the longer term?

Watch this space, because we will keep you updated on our plans and activities. In the meantime, have a look at our Storify of the conference, created by Orla-Peach Power.

EAI Conference: A Big Thank You To All Participants

Thanks to everyone who attended our conference last week — you really helped to make it a great success. Particular thanks go to our speakers on the day, Ellen O’Carroll, Isabella Mulhall, Gill Plunkett, Orla-Peach Power, Eileen Reilly and Lorna O’Donnell, and to all their collaborators. Meriel McClatchie introduced the conference, and Mick Monk responded to the presentations by highlighting and discussing many of the interesting points raised. 

Special mention and thanks also to the main chairs (Ben Geary and Michael Ryan) for their work during the day, our invited guests (Gill Campbell and Chris Caseldine) and the facilitators of the discussion sections in the afternoon (James Eogan, Ben Geary, Steve Davis, Fiona Beglane and Penny Johnston). We would also like to thank the National Monuments Service and the National Botanic Gardens for their support, and the Association for Environmental Archaeology for sponsoring the student poster prize. A full report on the conference will be published later this year in the newsletter of the Association for Environmental Archaeology.

Environmental Archaeology Conference: Only 3 Weeks To Go

We are busy organising our conference, Looking back, moving forward: 70 years of Environmental Archaeology in Ireland, which will be held at the fantastic lecture theatre in the National Botanic Gardens Dublin on Friday 19th February 2016.

The conference will explore how environmental archaeology developed in Ireland, where we are now, and how we can move forward. We want to provide a forum to consider our strengths and expertise, gaps in knowledge and skills, and challenges in practice. We believe this will help us develop a sustainable future for environmental archaeology in Ireland.

The full programme is now available on the conference website. The morning session of the conference comprises a series of lectures, where we will find out about new research on climate change, bog bodies, woodlands and wetlands, agriculture, and the environments of early towns. Something for everyone, we hope! Then in the afternoon, interactive discussions will help us to find a way forward.

As well as participating in the conference, delegates will have an opportunity to view the Viking house reconstruction built by Eoin Donnelly and a photographic exhibition on the night sky.

Further information on the conference, and registration details, can be found here. Hope to see you there!

Environmental Archaeology Conference: Call for Posters

It’s almost the end of 2015, which means that our big conference is happening in a few weeks’ time!

We recently issued a call for posters for our upcoming conference, Looking back, moving forward: 70 years of environmental archaeology in Ireland. The conference will take place on Friday 19th February 2016 in Dublin.

The poster session is designed for students and professionals to present their research or ideas on any aspect of environmental archaeology to a larger audience. If you would like to present a poster at the conference, please visit the conference website.

Remember that pre-registration is required to attend the conference. You can register here.

Archaeofest and Environmental Archaeology

In August 2013 the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (IAI), in association with Dublin City Council, the Heritage Council and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, hosted the first Archaeofest in Merrion Square as part of the Heritage Council’s annual Heritage Week. The idea was to bring together archaeologists from many different walks of life for a public showcase of the varied aspects of the profession in a fun engaging way!

A ‘specialist tent’ was included from the outset, a place where environmental archaeologists and osteoarchaeologists could demonstrate to people what they do, how they do it and what we can tell about past environments and past lives from this often lab-based side of archaeology. It was enthusiastically supported by many colleagues who gave freely of their time on that first occasion and have continued to support and participate in Archaeofest in 2014 and 2015.

People are genuinely fascinated by the scientific side of archaeology, by what we can see ‘down the microscope’ – seeds, beetles, pollen, tree-rings, cut marks or signs of disease on bones and teeth. The ‘specialist tent’ has proved to be extremely popular each year with adults and kids alike, curious about how we extract these tiny things, how we identify them, how much they can tell us about what people ate in the past, how they lived, what diseases they suffered from, how alike or unlike they were to us. Some have expressed surprise at how much we can learn about the past from soil or from bogs, emphasising how important it is for us to use every opportunity to disseminate the fascinating results of our research.

Any of us who have participated have enjoyed the experience immensely; our hoarse throats at the end of the day a testament to the popularity of this part of Archaeofest! Long may this event continue and our association with it.

We would particularly like to thank the IAI conference organisers past and present, Ros Ó Maoldúin and Christina O’Regan, for their help in making the ‘specialist tent’ such a successful part of Archaeofest. 

About the Author

Dr Eileen Reilly is an environmental archaeologist specialising in the study of insect remains from archaeological sites. Most recently she was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at UCD School of Archaeology looking at the topic of dirt and cleanliness in early medieval Europe. She served on the board of IAI as vice-chairperson/acting chairperson from 2013 to 2015.