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IAA publication Europe's Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland wins Best Archaeological Book of 2010book cover!

The CBA book publication Europe's Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland by Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch and David Smith  has been yesterday won the Best Archaeological Book prize at the prestigious British Archaeological Awards.

Author Vince Gaffney and the CBA’s Publications Officer, Catrina Appleby, collected the prize at the Awards ceremony held at the British Museum in London.

The book presents the results of the work carried out by a team from VISTA at the University of Birmingham to explore the land underneath the North Sea that was inundated at the end of the last Ice Age approximately 10,000 years ago. Using data collected for petroleum exploration, the project has been able to map the rivers, lakes and hill of this so-called ‘Doggerland’, an area the size of a small European country, that once linked us to the continent.

Further Information...

IAA Archaeologist Helps Uncover Identity of First World War Soldier

An Anzac soldier killed in the First World War is to be reburied with his fallen comrades almost a century after he died on a Belgian battlefield, after archaeologists from the University of Birmingham helped to identify his remains.

Kirsty Nichol, of Birmingham Archaeology and member of the University’s Centre for First World War Studies and No Man’s Land - The European Group for Great War Archaeology), was part of the team that, in August 2008, recovered the body of an unknown Australian soldier missing since the Battle of Messines at St Yvon, on June 8, 1917.

Painstaking detective work by academic colleagues in the group, professional partners and the Australian Army since then has led to his identity: 1983 Private Alan James Mather.  

The soldier will be formally buried by the Australian Army on July 22nd at Prowse Point Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. His name will be removed from the panel at the Menin Gate in due course.

Pte Mather’s remains were discovered when archaeologists were working on The Plugstreet Project, which is currently investigating a section of the Belgian battlefields of the First World War.

Items alongside him, such as rifle, ammunition, Corps badges and the contents of his pockets and haversack, and a corroded identification disc were also recovered.

Kirsty said that they had used the most up to date scientific techniques to study the remains, which helped to identify the unknown soldier.

“All those involved in the project worked meticulously in an effort to reveal his identity,” she explained.

“Identifications are often difficult to obtain for these men so every effort has to be made to collect as much evidence as possible and ensure that there is a robust recording strategy from the recovery of the body through to post mortem.

“From the moment we found him he was never alone, with members of the team watching over the grave site by night to protect it from being robbed.  I am pleased that he has his name back, and I am very much looking forwards to meeting his family.”

Project co-director Martin Brown, Hon Research Associate at the University of Birmingham said: “We were able to build up quite a picture of the man, and this led us a long way to his identity. The badges gave us his nationality. His location in the field gave us his unit – 33 Battalion – and that tells us when he was killed because they didn’t spend long there. The fact he was wearing all his ammunition and grenades show that he was in the main attacking force and gave us his Company.”

Colleagues at Bradford University cleaned and conserved the objects, while scientific investigation into the composition of his bones by academics at the Universities of Leuven, Cranfield and Oxford enabled archaeologists to narrow down Pte Mather’s place of birth to a few locations in New South Wales.

The examination of casualty lists reduced further the number of possible identities to five men.

1983 Private Alan James Mather, who joined the Army in 1916, was a grazier from Inverell in New South Wales, where his father had been mayor. He was survived by his parents, older twin sisters, Flora and Marion, a younger sister, Elsie, a half brother Doug and a half sister, Jessie.  He was 37 years old when he was killed. 

Project co-director Richard Osgood said: “With such a low number of candidates the Australian Army commissioned DNA testing of the surviving relatives of all the casualties fitting the profile, which resulted in a positive match with one of the next of kin donors. This match provided the final proof in identifying Private Mather.

“This result shows how integration of the fieldwork, use of historical documents and cutting edge science can produce very satisfying outcomes.”




Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project

Stonehenge is the most iconic of all prehistoric monuments and occupies one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world. Although studied by antiquarians and archaeologists over many centuries, much of this landscape effectively remains terra incognita. The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project will change this situation dramatically through one of the world's largest-ever terrestrial geophysical projects, beginning on the 1st of July 2010. Cutting-edge technologies applied at an unprecedented spatial scale will reveal what happened around Stonehenge in extraordinary detail.  The results of the work will be a digital chart of the ‘invisible’ Stonehenge landscape, a seamless map linking one of the world's most famous monuments with the buried archaeology that surrounds it. 

The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project will bring together the most sophisticated geophysics team ever gathered for a single archaeological project alongside specialists in British prehistory and landscape archaeology. The outstanding geophysical survey capabilities of the team has been made possible only because of the unique expertise and combined resources of the project partners, the IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (VISTA) at the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection & Virtual Archaeology (LBI) in Vienna and its European partners from Austria, Germany, Norway and Sweden, and the Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences at the University of Bradford.

The Hidden Landscapes Project is a collaborative project and gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Trust and English Heritage

For more information please contact Professor Vince Gaffney (Project Lead)


University Awards for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision

Congratulations to Professor Dimitris Tziovas who has won the University Award for Excellence in Doctoral Supervision (2010). As a research-intensive university, Birmingham is committed to carrying out research that is world-leading in terms of its originality and distinctiveness, significance and rigour. This award recognises the significant contribution that can be made by academic supervisors to the successful completion of high-class doctoral research at the University. The awards identify individuals who have demonstrated a high level of commitment and enthusiasm in the supervision of doctoral researchers and who act as role models within their colleges, promoting discussion and sharing good practice


IAA publication Europe's Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland shortlisted for Best Archaeological Book of 2010

The IAA publication Europe's Lost World: the re-discovery of Doggerland by Vince Gaffney, Simon Fitch and David Smith  has been shortlisted for the Best Archaeological Book of 2010 in the The British Archaeological Awards (www.britarch.ac.uk/awards ).

The British Archaeological Awards are a showcase for the best in UK archaeology and a central event in the archaeological calendar. Established in 1976, they now encompass six Awards, covering every aspect of UK archaeology.  The purpose of the Awards is to advance public education in the study and practice of archaeology in all its aspects in the United Kingdom, and in particular by the granting of awards for excellence and/or initiative. The Awards are committed to recognising significant contributions to knowledge and the importance of research, professional standards and excellence, involvement of local communities in the study of archaeology, effective dissemination and presentation of archaeological knowledge, and innovation and originality of approach.



43rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies Conference Report

The 43rd Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies Byzantium behind the Scenes: Power and Subversion took place at the University of Birmingham in March 2010 and attracted more than 130 delegates and guests from universities across the UK and from 15 other countries. As always, members of the local Birmingham community were a welcome addition to this large event. A culmination of the academic programme of the symposium, consisting of 18 main papers and 34 communications, was the keynote address by Professor Margaret Alexiou, formerly of the University of Birmingham and Emerita Professor of Harvard University.
Download the podcast: The power of poverty and pain: Theodore Prodromos (.wav 47mins)



University Archaeologists Dig for Shakespeare: A Whole New Experience For Visitors to 'New Place'

Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham will give visitors to New Place and Nash’s House in Stratford-upon-Avon a unique chance to dig deeper into the later life of the town’s famous playwright, when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust launches ‘Dig for Shakespeare’, an archaeological exploration and visitor experience at Shakespeare’s last home. 

From 26 March 2010 until the end of October visitors to Stratford will be able to watch as archaeologists unearth the foundations – and hopefully, rubbish tips – of Shakespeare’s House, which was demolished in 1759.  A special viewing platform has been constructed so that visitors will be able to peek over the shoulders of a team of archaeologists and volunteers as they excavate the area where Shakespeare’s house and courtyard stood – an up-close view that will enable them to feel as though they are part of the dig team.

‘We’re excavating three areas in total – one large trench will run from the Chapel Street end of the property up to the end of the inner courtyard, a second will investigate the area currently occupied by the herb garden, and the final area will involve the excavation of one quarter of the knot garden at the rear of the building,’ explains Dr Diana Owen, Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  ‘We do not know if the knot garden was an area used by Shakespeare – it may have been a yard simply used by his servants, but this could actually yield some fantastic results, especially if it was an area where rubbish was thrown or the cess pit was located.’

The excavation is being undertaken by archaeologists, who will be working on the dig seven days a week.  Kevin Colls, from Birmingham Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, says, ‘Through documentary evidence we know Shakespeare lived at New Place but we have very little information regarding the layout of the house and gardens at this time. Through archaeological fieldwork, in particular the excavation of structural remains and the recovery of artefacts, we hope to fill in the blanks. Even the smallest shard of broken pottery has the potential for giving us tantalising glimpses into the life of Shakespeare such as what he liked to eat and drink’.

To help visitors understand why the Trust is undertaking such an extensive excavation, Nash’s House – the building that adjoined New Place, and which was owned by the husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter – will feature a new exhibition focusing on what is known of Shakespeare’s life when he returned from London to Stratford and explaining what archaeologists are hoping to find buried beneath the soil.

Visitors will also take a different route around the property, walking through from the front to the rear of the house and exiting through the former education room, which will be relocated to the first floor.  They will be guided around the perimeter of the knot garden, where archaeologists and interpretation staff will explain the current position of the dig, before returning to the front of the property along a raised platform, which takes them right between the two other trenches for an unrivalled view of the largest excavation.

More Information...

IAA secures additional Postgraduate Scholarships

IAA has successfully bid for additional PG Scholarships for 2010/11 from a CAL fund established to target Programmes where additional recruitment potential could be identified. The extra £20,000 will be divided between our Distance Education MAs in Practical Archaeology and in Landscape Archaeology, GIS and Virtual Environments, and our MA in Antiquity. We can now offer:

Doctoral Awards

  • 1 AHRC doctoral award in Classics and Ancient History (fees + maintenance; open to UK students and non-UK students who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years for reasons other than education)
  • 4 AHRC doctoral awards in History (fees + maintenance; open to UK students and non-UK students who have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years for reasons other than education); applicants for research in Byzantine Studies are eligible to apply to the History competition.
  • 12 College of Arts and Law Doctoral Scholarships (fees + maintenance; AHRC equivalent awards, open to UK, EU and international students) in all disciplines covered in the College

See also: Leventis Studentships

Masters (MA/MSc/MPhil) Scholarships

Open across IAA’s disciplines (Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology, Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies):

  •  Up to 8 fee-reduction Scholarships in any Masters/MPhil programme offered by IAA
  • 1 fee-reduction Scholarship for a continuing University of Birmingham student in any Masters/MPhil programme offered by IAA

Scholarships for specific subject areas:

Classics, Ancient History, and Byzantine Studies:

  • 1 AHRC Research Preparation (MA or MPhil) award (fees + maintenance) in History (open to MPhil applicants with projects in late Byzantine Studies)
  • 1 fee-remission Scholarship for MA Antiquity (any pathway)
  • 1 fee-reduction Scholarship for MA Antiquity (any pathway)

Archaeology and Heritage Management:

  • 1 AHRC Professional Preparation (MA) award (fees + maintenance)
  • 3 fee-remission Scholarships in Practical Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology, GIS and Virtual Environments (DE Masters Programmes)
  • 1 fee-reduction Scholarship in Practical Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology, or GIS and Virtual Environments (DE Masters Programmes)

See also: Leventis Studentships

Application forms may be downloaded from http://www.as.bham.ac.uk/study/support/admin/pgr/PGScholarships-CAL.shtml

Completed applications are due by 4 p.m. (16.00), Friday, 26 February 2010 to ahrcapplication@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Applicants must have submitted their application to study at Birmingham before applying for the funding competition.

Leventis Studentships in Modern Greek Studies announced for 2010/11

Thanks to a generous grant from the A G Leventis Foundation, three postgraduate studentships are available for students who wish to pursue a full-time higher degree programme (MPhil, MPhil(b) or PhD) in the fields of Modern Greek (including Cypriot) literature, language, history and culture. Learn more...

Archaeologists go in Search of Shakespeare's House

Archaeologists at the University of Birmingham have begun preparations for an archaeological excavation at the site of Shakespeare’s final home ‘New Place’ in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he lived out his final years and in which he died in 1616.  Initial work to test the feasibility of an excavation project is underway and will inform plans for a wider archaeological project by Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust at New Place next year.  Learn More...

Gold and Garnets; an Anglo Saxon Hoard from Staffordshire

Archaeologists from Birmingham Archaeology have been participating in the recovery of the UK’s largest haul of Anglo Saxon gold, amounting to over 1,500 items. The find, initially discovered by detectorist Terry Herbert, was recovered from a field near Lichfield, Staffordshire. The hoard includes a minimum of 84 pommel caps and 71 sword hilt collars, items inlaid with previous stones and folded crosses.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum’s Department of Prehistory and Europe said ‘This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so than the Sutton Hoo discoveries’ ‘(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells’.

The hoard may have been buried around AD 700, perhaps between the rules of the powerful Mercian kings Aethelred and Aethelbald.

Archaeologists from Birmingham Archaeology have been working with Staffordshire County Council and Duncan Slarke (Portable Antiquities Scheme). Work was funded by English Heritage and Staffordshire County Council.

A selection of the finds will be on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from  Friday 24th September to 13th October.

See www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk for further details of the finds.

Visit Birmingham Archaeology for More Information


Postgraduate Archaeology Open Day 2009

8 July 2009

Everyone interested in postgraduate study in archaeology is welcome to attend. It's not too late to apply!


Postgraduate Colloquium 2009

29 April 2009

Abstracts to be submitted to Diana Spencer by 20th March.

Booking forms to be submitted to the IAA office by 27th March.

ALL IAA postgraduates must attend.

ALL 2nd year IAA PhD students must present a paper.

Free lunch provided!

Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies - Call for Papers

10th Postgraduate Research Colloquium 2009
Saturday 30 May 2009

Contributions may be in any area of Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, including archaeology, history, literature, art history etc., or they may be of an interdisciplinary nature.


Postgraduate Archaeology Open Day

Wednesday 4th February 2009

For students interested in postgraduate programmes in Archaeology 2009-10


RAE 2008

The results of the latest Research and Assessment Exercise for 2008 were published on 18th December.

View the highlights for the University of Birmingham

Read the University of Birmingham response to these results


Wroxeter 150: Past, Present and Future

A Day-School to be held at Burlington House
Friday 6th February 2009
9:30 -:5.00

On 3rd February 1859, Thomas Wright’s workmen began to excavate beneath the arch of the Old Work at Wroxeter. By the end of April, when Charles Dickens visited the site, the monument as we know it today was largely exposed and thronged with visitors. Such was the excitement that Lord Barnard generously donated the site to the newly founded Shropshire Archaeological Society to open as a visitor attraction. February 2009 thus marks the 150th anniversary of a momentous event in British archaeology: the re-discovery of Wroxeter Roman city, and the opening of one of the earliest archaeological visitor attractions in the country. February 2009 also marks the completion of work on the last results of the modern phase of work at Wroxeter enabling for the first time a full overview of the site.

IBM and VISTA - a new partnership for computing in the Arts at Birmingham.

The partnership with IBM and the Visual and Spatial Technology Centre (VISTA) aims to promote high performance computing in the Arts and to promote the Centre as an international hub for computer-based research and education.  The partnership will assist in the development of the new "Virtual Worlds" laboratory at the Centre and its most recent flagship project - the 3D digitisation of the Eton Myers collection of Egyptian fine art. This is one of the finest private collections of such material outside the Egypt or national museums and VISTA will be working with Eton to provide a web accessible 3D museum using this fabulous collection.  The programme is supported by JISC.