Postgraduate research

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Congratulations to Aroa Garcia-Suarez (PhD student in Archaeology) and Izabela Stacewicz (PhD student in GES), who have made successful applications to the first annual Rob Potter Memorial Overseas Travel Award.  Both Aroa and Izabela have each been awarded £500 towards overseas fieldwork in 2014/2015.

Izabela Stacewicz

Izabela Stacewicz

“I am delighted to have received the Rob Potter Memorial Travel Award for Overseas Fieldwork, and I am most grateful to the Committee for supporting my work.  My PhD project explores the politics and effectiveness of Social Impact Assessment in addressing land and labour rights in the context of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.  The Award will contribute to fieldwork in Malaysia and Indonesia in Spring 2015, during which I will conduct research with palm oil plantation workers, and communities affected by palm oil production.”

Izabela Stacewicz

“This award represents a great aid to carry out fieldwork related to my doctoral project and will be used to cover travel costs to and from Turkey in order to finalise the excavation and sampling of an archaeologically significant Neolithic building at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük.”

Aroa Garcia-Suarez

This is the first year of this award made in honour of the former Head of School, Professor Emeritus Rob Potter (1950 – 2014).  For more information about Rob’s academic achievements, and details on the application process for the Overseas Travel Award, please visit the webpage.

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kirstenFrom November 21st -25th 2014 a small team from the University of Reading Archaeology Department took advantage of a low tide to investigate Mesolithic sites in the intertidal zone at Goldcliff, South Wales where many archaeological discoveries have been made over the last 24 years. We found human, bird and deer footprints, Mesolithic flints and charred hazel nuts. The fieldwork was in conjunction with a team from the BBC Horizon Science Series for a programme on the Mesolithic which will be screened in early 2015.

This was the start of a 3 year PhD project by Kirsten Barr who will be looking at Mesolithic, human, animal and bird footprints in the Severn Estuary and elsewhere in order to develop new techniques for the rapid and accurate recording and interpretation of this footprint evidence which is increasingly being found particularly in coastal locations.

Kirsten graduated with a First Class degree in Archaeology from the University of Reading. She started off with a mainly arts focus but discovered an aptitude for science during her kirsten2undergraduate degree. After this she did a MSc in Forensic Archaeology at University College, London and her current PhD project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Fieldwork with the BBC team provided an early opportunity in the second month of her project to get information about the project out to the public.

Severn Estuary Prehistoric research is led by Professor Martin Bell, who has published 3 monographs on the subject in the last 14 years. The most recent is The Bronze Age in the Severn Estuary published by the Council for British Archaeology in 2013. This monograph includes contributions by several Reading University students including Kirsten who did her undergraduate dissertation on the footprints of animals in Bronze Age sites.

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James Billson, currently studying for his MA in the Archaeology of Medieval Europe, spent time this summer working at the excavations at Montfort. Read on for his report!

“During 2014 I was a part of the excavations conducted at the Teutonic castle of Montfort, in Northern Galilee. Montfort is a Mountain spur castle which takes advantage of the local topography; it is flanked by Nahal Kziv to the north and Khalet Khzam to the south.

This castle was occupied from roughly 1220 to 1271; it saw two Muslim sieges, one in 1266 which it survived, and another in 1271, falling to Baybars. Chronical tell us that this spur castle served as the headquarters for the order in the holy land, occasionally being used as the residence of the Hochmeister (the grand master of the order).

Montfort1

Figure 1: Sole standing wall of the ‘hall’. Note the staircase leading to the doorway, formerly a window which is thought to have been converted by the knights for this use. Also note the central pillar, as an indicator of the scale of this room, for more of an indicator see figure 2.

Previous excavations were conducted at this site in 1877 by Horatio H. Kitchener and in 1926 by Bashford Dean (the curator for the arms and armour department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), he was hoping to recover a suit of armour. In 1994 limited excavations were conducted in the hall prior to restoration work commencing; the castle is in a state of ruin, much as it was left by Baybars following its fall.

Montfort2

Figure 2. (See figure 1 description)

Excavation work commenced in 2011 following five years of surveying. I was fortunate enough to get a place on this excavation, which for the 2014 season focused on the area immediately behind the ‘gatehouse’ to the castle, on the slopes of the mountain. This area was thought to have been the stables for the garrisons mounts, and certainly finds including a horseshoe suggest this.

I was a part of this excavation for two weeks during which time I was able to see the transformation of the site from tree stumps and slumping, to the revealing of the paved medieval floor surface, and it being reduced to its original high.

Montfort3

Figure 3: Half removed level, when I arrived.

Montfort4

Figure 4: Nearly fully reduced level, with ashlar blocks, parts of the collapsed archways. (Note: not in original positions, moved during excavations for ease of access).

This was a fantastic opportunity for me to expand my experience within field archaeology; not only that but to increase the variety of experience that I possess, and increasing my adaptability. It is rare to find a site in England where you need to trek across low mountains in high heat! I was also able to apply lessons taught during my time at the Silchester field school with regards to taking levels!

I would like to thank the SAGES bursary for providing me with a bursary for this trip which in many ways made it possible for me to go. I would also like to thank Dr Alexs Pluskowski for putting me in touch with Dr Adrian Boas who ran the excavation (a thank you to him as well!) and finally to all those who took part in the excavation alongside me – without them I doubt it would have been so much fun!”

– James Billson

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TODAY at 12 noon (Monday 13 January) is the last day for registering to attend the Open Day for the new AHRC PhD studentships and Doctoral Training Programme on 22 January!!!
Click here to register!

Attendance at this Open Day will be of great benefit in applying for the studentships (deadline for submission of written applications is 21 February).

Contact Dr Wendy Matthews, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies in Archaeology for more info. (w.matthews@reading.ac.uk)

Details of the application processes are outlined below:

 

AHRC Doctoral Training Programme

University of Reading in the South West and Wales Consortium

  • 50 Fully-funded PhD studentships for entry in October 2014 across the Consortium (UK Fees and maintenance £13,726; EU fees only)
  • Supervision at Reading and within network of 8 Universities (Aberystwyth, Bath, Bath Spa, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Reading and Southampton)
  • Placements and supervision with external Partner Organisations including the National Trust, English Heritage, BBC, Getty Research Institute LA, Universities in Germany, Japan, USA, China
  • Professional Arts and Humanities Researcher training, including ‘Public Humanities’
  • Research Theme and Cluster meetings and conference each year
  • Funds for attendance at meetings and sharing of resources across the consortium

 Action

  • Register your Expression of interest and to attend the Open Day by 13 January 2014 12 noon
  • Attend the Open Day on 22 January in Arnolfi Gallery, Bristol
  • Contact the Subject leader by 24 January (with 500 word proposal and CV) and apply for a place at the university
  • Prepare and submit your application by 21 February 2014 (Form available from SWWC DTP)

–      1500 word proposal

–      500 word personal statement

  • Interviews are 17-28 March
  • Awards will be announced on 17 April
  • Acceptance must be made by 1 May 2014
Rosie Weetch

Rosie Weetch

 

The British MuseumTwo of our current PhD students have been appointed to prestigious positions at the British Museum.

Rosie Weetch is just about to complete her PhD on Late Saxon brooches (supervised by Dr Gabor Thomas & Hella Eckardt) and has been working as a project curator at the British Museum since 2012, helping to design the new early medieval gallery and in particular researching and displaying the famous Sutton Hoo treasure.

Helen McGauran will submit her thesis on the circulation of Bronze Age soft-stone artefacts in Bahrain and Cyprus (supervised by Dr Wendy Matthews & Stuart Black) this June, before starting as Project Curator on the Zayed National Museum Project.

Helen McGauran

Helen McGauran

Her role is to carry out targeted research into topics and key sites to support the Interpretation team in presenting information on the archaeology of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates from early prehistory up until the end of the pre-Islamic period, within the new Museum in Abu Dhabi. She will also be involved in some aspects of artefact and other object selection.

Read about postgraduate research in Archaeology

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