Issue 5

(c) Merseyside Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation



Research Papers…………pgs. 1-100

Featured Articles………..pgs. 101-155

Book Reviews……………pgs. 156-172

Words of Wisdom……..pgs. 173-213


Research Papers


Missing, Presumed Buried? Bone Diagenesis and the
Under-Representation of Anglo-Saxon Children



Abstract .
This paper will review the evidence concerning the treatment of the remains of children during the Anglo-Saxon period. It will then review the factors affecting bone preservation, with special reference to the bones of children, and attempt to assess to what extent the under-representation of children in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries can be attributed to bone preservation and soil type. It will show that hypotheses should not be formulated without full consideration of the taphonomy that may affect the completeness of the archaeological record.

Pages: 1-20
Link to PDF: Buckberry 2000


On The Evolution of Human Aesthetic Preferences


How can we imagine that an inch in the tail of the peacock, or ¼ inch in that of the Bird of Paradise, would be noticed and preferred by the female? Alfred Wallace, letter to Charles Darwin, March 1868.
In regard to sexual selection. A girl sees a handsome man, and without observing whether his nose or whiskers are the tenth of an inch longer or shorter than in some other man, admires his appearance and says she willmarry him. So, I suppose, with the pea-hen ….. Charles Darwin, letter to Alfred
Wallace, March 1868

Pages 21-36
Link to PDF: Chamberlain 2000 


People, Things and Archaeological Knowledge: An Exploration of the Significance of Fetishism in Archaeology.

Fetishism: here is the desire to hold, look, touch; captivation by the consecrated object. The antiquary’s vase is past frozen, a fixed moment. The wholeness of the past is lost in the melancholic holding of the vase; the past, longed for, is missing. The vase fills the gap. Touching, viewing what once was there, part of what is desired. But the fixation on the vase, the antiquary’s contact is the condition of the past being absent. The vase commemorates the past, which is missing, but denies this. The fetish object combines gratification and distress: being sometimes the presence and sometimes the absence of that which is desired. The archaeological suspicion is that antiquarian desire effaces the past. The object merely mirrors the antiquary’s impoverished world in which knowledge … is replaced by blind desire. There is morbidity about the antiquary too: images of skulls, dusty gloom, yellow parchment of decay. The antiquary is dead to all sensuality save the body of the past. The past is dead and gone; but here is a beautiful and fascinating vase. Perhaps though we should remember the sensuality present through its absence in the antiquary’s desire to hold the past (Shanks, 1992: 99-100).

Fetishism… direct concern with surface appearances that conceal underlying meanings (Harvey, 1989: 77). The fetish quality of an object is the reverence or the fascination for it that arises out of its capacities but is expressed over and beyond its simple consumption. This fetish quality is attested through ritualistic practices that celebrate or revere the object, a class of objects, items from a ‘known’ producer or even the brand name of a range of products (Dant, 1996: 511).    

Pages 37-64
Link to PDF: Cumberpatch 2000


Castles and The Children of Alfred

Do not be sidetracked by this title, which is simply that of the dissertation behind this paper’s proposal. My starting point was The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (Armitage, 1912), a formidable book by a formidable woman. Seen by some as final settlement of the long, acrimonious debate over who built the first English castles, its continuing prominence – more than fifty years after publication it was still described as the only substantial book on Norman castles (Renn, 1968) – is less a monument to its achievement than a testimony to the dearth of research

Pages 65-75
Link to PDF: Hamilton 2000


Ethnicity, Race and the Archaeology of the Atlantic Slave Trade

The issue of ethnicity has been little considered by British post-medieval archaeology. Archaeology has unique access to evidence of the role of material culture in the expression and negotiation of historical identities. This paper aims to provide a theoretical framework for the study of ethnicity in the post-medieval period. Many archaeological discussions of ethnicity take a ‘situationist’ approach, emphasising individuals’ choice from a range of available identities. Yet in the study of the West Indian colonial societies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in which ethnic identity cannot be considered in isolation from the extreme power relations of nascent racial slavery, the application of a model of ‘individual choice’ is problematic.
In this light, the role of Bristol City Museum in recent successful attempts to present the multicultural heritage of Bristol’s historical involvement in the Atlantic slave trade in is outlined. The potential for the new ‘inclusive’ agenda provided by this initiative to be applied to future archaeological practice is discussed. An alternative theoretical framework for the archaeology of ethnicity in the later historical period, based upon a contextual approach to material culture and emphasising the global context of cultural interaction, is presented. Through a unified, ‘macrosituationist’ theoretical approach to these issues, British archaeology may begin the crucial process of addressing its previous neglect of the histories of ethnic minorities

Pages 76-100
Link to PDF:  Hicks 2000

Feature     xxxxxxx

Featured Articles


Taking English Archaeology into the Next Millennium – a personal review of the state of the art



In this paper, I examine the present state of English developer-funded archaeology, some of the difficulties that it is experiencing, and some possible ways of ameliorating these problems. I will not be discussing the situation in Scotland and Wales, simply because I am unfamiliar with conditions in these countries, as my career as a contract archaeologist has been largely confined to England. Some may claim that English commercial archaeology is a rather parochial subject, yet this sector of archaeological practice is regularly held up as an example to the rest of the world. The problems currently experienced by English archaeology, and possible solutions to them, must have international as well as national significance.

Pages 101-136
Link to PDF:  Chadwick 2000


Estimating Osteological Health in Ancient Egyptian Bone via Applications of Modern Radiological Technology


This paper offers a process evaluation of the use of dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in the study of ancient human remains. The study was undertaken to assess the potential use of the DXA technique as a non-invasive and non-destructive method of assessing bone health in an ancient population: poor diet, for example, could reasonably be expected to affect bone density.

Pages 137-148
Link to PDF:  Haigh 2000


Electronic Scanning: An Alternative to Photographing Glass Beads and Other Small Artefacts


The authors of this note would like to bring to the attention of readers the advantages of scanning glass beads (and other small archaeological artefacts) as an effective, cheap, rapid and simple alternative to conventional photography.  This article is intended as a guide to others interested in trying out the same technique

Pages 149-155
Link to PDF:  Towle and Ashton 2000



Book Reviews


Pages 156-172
Link to PDF:Book Reviews 2000


Death, Burial, and Rebirth in the Religions of Antiquity
Davies, J. 1999
Routledge, London.ISBN 0415129915



Prehistoric Britain from the Air
Bord, J., and Bord, C. 1997
Phoenix Illustrated, London. ISBN 0753807076. 158 pages

Review by MARK E. P. HOWS


Understanding the Neolithic
Thomas, J. 1999.
Routledge, London. ISBN 0415207673. 266 pages.



The Archaeological Process: An Introduction
Hodder, I. 1999
Blackwell, Oxford. ISBN 0631198857. xiv + 242 pages, 24 illustrations, 1 table




Assemblage Words of Wisdom

Pages 153-213
Link to PDF: Words of Wisdom


Philosophy from the Ground Up: An Interview with Alison Wylie

Alison Wylie is one of the few full-time academic philosophers of the social and historical sciences on the planet today. And fortunately for us, she happens to specialise in archaeology! After emerging onto the archaeological theory scene in the mid-1980s with her work on analogy, she has continued to work on philosophical questions raised by archaeological practice. In particular, she explores the status of evidence and ideals of objectivity in contemporary archaeology: how do we think we know about the past? Her other key interests include feminist initiatives in Anglo-American archaeology, and ethical conflicts in current archaeological practice.

Kathryn Denning recently asked about her adventures in archaeology and academia and her thoughts on archaeology’s past, present, and future.


Interview with B. Ottoway

Barbara Ottaway, MA, PhD is a reader in Archaeology and is head of the Research
Schoolat the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include early copper metallurgy and the prehistory of central and south-eastern Europe. Her field projects include excavations and surveys in southern Germany and Austria. She has recently published ‘A Changing Place: The Galgenberg in Lower Bavaria from the fifth to the firstmillennium BC’, BAR International Series 752.
Interviewed by Caroline Hall