Friday, 5 June 2015

The White Mountain: Saint-Pierre-Eynac fieldwork, 2014

My poor blog has been neglected again due to workload, family life, and a huge amount of travelling over the past 8 months. So this report for 2014's fieldwork in the Massif Central region is horribly overdue. I've been wanting to get back with blogging for a while, and given that this year's fieldwork season is already upon us, it's time to get this done! So here's what we did last summer, including a big digger, silcrete galore, lithic-themed wine and a fieldwork baby!

Just before work started in the field- digger arrives!

Monday, 2 February 2015

#Real10000BC : This Is Not The Mesolithic

The new reality TV series 10,000 BC (Channel 5) is obviously, despite claims about 'making history fun', really more about seeing what a mix of people do when placed in harsh physical and social circumstances. However, given all the PR around how it's a 'Stone Age" setting, in a "Mesolithic-style" camp, it seems only fair that archaeologists get to have a say about the Real 10,000 BC- which by the way, isn't even IN the Mesolithic...

So for those interested in more than who starts crying first, here's a bit more info on the archaeology from around this time (and hello if you've come here via the #Real10000BC links!).

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

TRACETERRE project poster, SAA 2014

A quick post here as I wanted to get this up a little while ago. In April, in my absence (due to new motherhood), my colleague Vincent Delvigne went to the Society for American Archaeology conference in Austin, Texas. We presented a poster outlining the work so far for my postdoc, on the silcrete source at Saint-Pierre-Eynac, Haute-Loire.

As the original poster is pretty big, I made it available to download on my Academia page, however I think that's not accessible to all- so click through here for an embedded image of the poster.
It's citable as 'Wragg Sykes et al. 2014. The White Mountain: Palaeolithic exploitation of the Saint-­Pierre-­‐Eynac silcrete, Haute-­‐Loire, France; a source‐centred approach. SAA 79th Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas.'

Cosmos magazine interview

I meant to post this last year when it actually took place, but in between waiting for image permission, going on maternity leave and having the baby, it got postponed!
In late 2013 I was approached by a journalist, Fiona Gruber, about doing an interview on my research for the Australian popular science magazine, Cosmos. I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours talking to Fiona by Skype, and the result (after protracted editing wrangles about accuracy- not with Fiona!) came out pretty nicely. Here's the link. Click through below for more photos, including some prancing about on campus with binoculars!

Image: Markel Redondo; used with permission.

Monday, 29 September 2014

2014 Centenary of the Mousterian

I started this post in July, but since then life and work got rather intense, and so it's been delayed... but now it can be added to in a very satisfying way. Back in summer I was lucky enough to be invited to some new work going on at the eponymous site of Le Moustier, Dordogne. This is where the lithic (stone tool) cultural classification accorded to the late Neandertals of much of western Europe was defined- known as the Mousterian. Brad Gravina, a colleague and friend from my lab (PACEA, Uni Bordeaux), has started some new excavations, which at the moment are in their earliest stages, and he generously invited me to visit. Much excitement followed, as well as an obligatory photo at the village road sign.

Fast-forward to now, September, when another absolutely seminal Neandertal site is also receiving renewed attention from my colleagues: Combe Grenal, the type site for the Mousterian sequence (i.e. the order in which different patterning in the tools within layers can be seen), and which has been used as a referent by all major approaches to understanding technological evolution within the region.

Ticked off the list- next, Levallois metro stop in Paris!

 The new Combe Grenal excavations are being directed by another of my lab colleagues Jean-Phillipe Faivre, whose PhD was on some of the layers (I say some, because it is an incredibly rich site, with many layers) and who has been very welcoming since I joined the lab. Brad Gravina and new PhD recruit, M-C Dawson (who has worked for INRAP for several years, the highly regarded French national 'rescue' excavation service) are joining Jean-Phillipe at the site too. There were also further excavations at St Cesaire this summer where I visited last year, not to mention my own very exciting fieldwork from this summer which I have yet to blog about... so really 2014 is the year of the Neandertal here at the PACEA lab in Bordeaux! Very appropriate seeing as one of the Grand Hommes of Mousterian studies, Francois Bordes, was also based here (and has a metro stop named after him outside our building!). Read on for more information, and my photos from the Le Moustier dig in July.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Return to the Massif Central

Just a very quick post to say I'm officially back from maternity leave, and have rolled straight into fieldwork! I'm back in the Haute-Loire region for a month. We will be starting excavations at the Saint-Pierre-Eynac silcrete source, which is exciting. I'm anticipating a LOT of stone to come up, but the question will be how much is humanly-worked, and whether there is any identifiable stratigraphy present. I'm really hoping I can convince the students with us that washing lithics is super-fun, as I don't fancy doing another few thousand like last year...
So until I have some new posts, which should hopefully be soon, here's a nice photo from summer 2013- here's hoping for more magnificent cloud-scapes in 2014!