Bones and Brexit: The Past and the Future Introduction to PIA Volume 26/27

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On behalf of the editorial team we are delighted to introduce volumes 26 & 27 of Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. The contributions in this joint volume were intentionally edited together to encompass the diverse range of research undertaken at UCL Institute of Archaeology. The context to this research environment is provided in the forum covering archaeological and heritage sector implications of Britain’s vote in 2016 to leave the European Union. We also introduce three new projects in this joint volume as a new dynamic to Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. The interview has an audio recording accessible in the online version, the winning poster from our poster competition accompanies this editorial, and the first of a series of ‘Postcards from Qatar’ is also presented.

Keywords: Zooarchaeology, Nationalism, UCL Institute of Archaeology, Museum Studies, Brexit, Heritage, Archaeological Science, Archaeology

How to Cite: Lewis, C. , Farebrother, E. , Nabais, M. & Ward, C. (2017) “Bones and Brexit: The Past and the Future Introduction to PIA Volume 26/27”, Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. 27(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/pia-549

Welcome to the new edition of Papers from the Institute of Archaeology (PIA). The decision to edit the selection of papers together presented here in this joint edition was not accidental. They demonstrate a range of doctoral and early career research in archaeology at what is a challenging time for university researchers in the UK given the political backdrop and associated funding uncertainties. In archaeology, context is everything, and the forum in this volume focuses on the 2016 decision made by Britain to leave the European Union and its implications for the Archaeological and Heritage sectors in Britain. This was inspired by Dr Andrew Gardner’s and Professor Rodney Harrison’s workshop at UCL Institute of Archaeology in May 2017 Brexit, Archaeology and Heritage: Reflections and Agendas and we are extremely grateful for their contribution of the lead article in this forum and closing comments, as well as to the respondents to the lead article, who provided interesting and new perspectives on Brexit and archaeology while still showcasing original research in their discussion articles.

Moving the debate away from aspects of nationalism, the papers curated from The Postgraduate Zooarchaeology Forum (PZAF) held at UCL Institute of Archaeology, which form the majority of the research papers in this volume, demonstrate the truly international nature of archaeology as a discipline, and the contributions in their final form reflect the importance of collaboration across borders.

A case in point is the Pan-European perspective found in Tomczyk’s work that compiles large evidence of camelids in the Northeastern frontiers of the Roman Empire. From Northwestern Europe, human-animal interactions and behaviours can be understood in two chronological extremes. Jimenez studied the faunal assemblages recovered from two Middle Palaeolithic sites from the Meuse valley, in the south of Belgium; whereas Nijssen deals with systematic ways of processing cattle bones in an urban setting in Medieval Ghent (Belgium).

Gordon also deals with urban environments, but in Post-Medieval Chester (UK), exploring diets, consumption behaviours and animal husbandry within the city. Conversely, Osborne’s paper focuses on wild game, discussing the possibility of a trade of fallow deer antlers during the Iron Age and Roman periods in Britain. A species-specific paper is also presented by Cooke. A close examination of the horse remains recovered from several Viking burials in Scotland is the starting point for the discussion of possible explanations for the deposition of such animals in the graves.

A number of the papers in this volume focus on the zooarchaeology of Southwestern Europe, specifically Spain and Portugal. They cover a wide range of chronologies from the Palaeolithic to the Chalcolithic and focus in diverse areas of zooarchaeology. Pereira reports the finds of wild and domestic animals from the Chalcolithic site of Castro de Chibanes (Portugal), whereas Daza has a geometric-morphometric approach of dogs from the same chronology, extending to the Bronze Age, recovered from several sites in the Iberia Peninsula. Garcia Escarga et al. emphasise the use of marine resources in the Mesolithic site of El Mazo, in Asturias (Spain). From Northern Spain, in Cantabria, the contribution of Geiling et al. highlights the importance of taphonomic studies in Palaeolithic sites, such as the case of El Mirón Cave, in order to better understand the different site formation processes taking place.

On a slightly different note, but also from Northern Spain, a short report by Moshenska and Fernández Fernández showcases new research into the medieval settlement of Asturias, Spain. Providing tuition in field methods to undergraduate students, this report summarises the latest results of excavation, interviews and scientific analysis in the study area.

It is also important to recognise the value of revisiting old collections to provide fresh ideas. Adlington’s research adds an additional perspective from materials science to this volume, revisiting the Corning Reference Glasses from the collection in New York, and reinforcing the value of re-calibrating values for previously established baselines.

This volume’s reviews section incorporates a broad range of book (Fulcher, Lewis, Martin Ramos, Payne, and Vindrola-Padrós), conference (Barber, Gajewska, Harris et al., Hirst, and Hirst and Lockey) and exhibition (Farebrother, Hirst, Siek,) reviews which bridge the views presented in the forum with the scientific research that dominates this volume. Themes included in the reviews section have been deliberately selected to cover all aspects of research conducted in UCL Institute of Archaeology today, and consider how the museums that surround UCL choose to engage the public. We are especially grateful for the permission of so many publishers and conference organisers to allow us to review their output.

In addition to traditional forms of academic publishing, we have chosen three new projects under the remit of this volume to add a new dynamic to the traditional PIA model. The first aspect is that the interview, a frequent feature of PIA, now includes an audio recording link in the online article. Early and open discussion of career pathways in archaeology is vital to nurturing new talent and this interview by Chloe Ward with Senior Lecturer in Museum Studies, Alice Stevenson, was designed to explore current challenges to archaeology, museums and collections, and also provided an insight to the Grand Challenges facing academic research.

The second project, organised by Thomas Siek, invited postgraduates to showcase their research in a new and exciting way. We asked for posters, often textually dense in their traditional conference settings, to be highly visual and limited to no more than 250 characters. Our goal was to challenge postgraduates to convey and condense the essence of their research into a bite-size portion. The quality of the submissions, however, meant that it was quite a challenge for the PIA team to select a winner and we would like to thank all those that submitted a poster. The winning entry from Cara Hirst accompanies this editorial (Figure 1) and we would like to congratulate Cara on her succinctness.

Figure 1
Figure 1
Figure 1

Winning Poster Competition from Cara Hirst, UCL Institute of Archaeology.

The final project represented in this volume is the first of what will be a series of short reports: ‘Postcards from Qatar’, is written by UCL Institute of Archaeology doctoral student Eleanor Preston who is based in UCL Qatar. These short reports will focus on the archaeological research being carried out on the Doha campus, with the first entry offering a description of the facilities and Eleanor’s impressions on arrival, which will be valuable for any researcher intending to spend time in Qatar.

We hope you enjoy the most recent selection of papers in this volume of Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, and value your continuing readership of the journal. It is thanks to the editorial team, academic staff involved in the peer review process, and copy-editors that this edition has been possible and we would like to thank everyone for their contribution.

Competing Interests

The authors have no competing interests to declare.