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Archaeologists in action: stories from the field

During the summer, staff of the Faculty of Archaeology congregate in all parts of the world, initiating or joining fieldwork projects. Read some of their stories here!

North Sea, near the English coast

Martijn Manders is currently on expedition to the 18th-century Dutch ship the Rooswijk, which sank near the English coast.

"Shipwrecks are like time capsules. They offer us small peepholes, looking into our past. Learning about this unique heritage and telling the stories which we literally bring to the surface help us to understand who we are."

Follow the project on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rooswijk1740/.

Százhalombatta (Hungary)

A joint team from Leiden and Cambridge is excavating a Bronze Age tell site in Hungary. The site produces spectacular findings, like this part of a horse bridle, found by our student Antonio!

Follow the project on Facebook at Százhalombatta Excavation.

Schöningen, Germany

In June, Bioarchaeology students and staff were working at the Lower Paleolithic site of Schöningen. The site has a long history, yet it is still providing new insights into the hunter-gatherers who lived in this region.

South Africa

Around 40,000 years ago, a major change in stone artefacts occurred. This heralded the beginning of the Later Stone Age, a period in which modern behaviour is assumed to be consistently present.

Gerrit Dusseldorp, together with his team, is now investigating this change by excavating caves in South Africa that were inhabited by people from this period.

Check out his research project.

Barnham, Suffolk, UK

Leiden students are involved in the excavation at a Lower Paleolithic site at Barnham. And what is even cooler: they are blogging about it!

Read the blog posts of Tessa Bakker and Carli Peters about the field work project.

Early medieval house, Vlaardingen

Nine Archaeology students have built a reconstruction of an early medieval house in Vlaardingen. The house, built according to a layout discovered during excavations at Rotta, has already played an important role as the backdrop of the re-enactment of the battle of Vlaardingen of 1018.

Read the whole story.

Northern New Mexico, United States

A team from Leiden is excavating and surveying at an Ancestral Pueblo site in the highland desert of New Mexico. The site is part of a culture that was resisting processes of state formation in the American Southwest.

This year has been quite difficult because of the massive and widespread wild fires, but the staff and interns have still been able to conduct an excellent year of fieldwork, public outreach, and research. And the students have all written blogs related to their work and experience there!

Read the blogs.

Udhruh, Jordan

The hinterland of important centres like Petra can provide essential information that contributes to the understanding of their rise, expansion and decline. The region around Udhruh, 12 km east of Petra, was actively exploited in antiquity with investments of great effort and ingenuity in agricultural intensification, water management, military dominion, communication and security networks.

The Udhruh Archaeological Project was launched to investigate this interesting region. The project is a joint venture between the Petra School of Archaeology and Tourism of Al-Hussein Bin Talal University (Wadi Musa) and the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University (the Netherlands).

Follow the project on Facebook.

Prehistoric canoes, Vlaardingen

On 6 July, two reconstructions of prehistoric canoes were tested for loading capacity, speed and manoeuvrability.

It was a classic battle of Iron Age vs. Mesolithicum, and it gave the staff involved data to design new more specific experiments in the future.

Read the whole story.

Jebel Qurma, Jordan

The Jebel Qurma Archaeological Landscape Project aims to study the extraordinary archaeological heritage in Jordan’s Black Desert over a long timescale and across several different environments. The project comprises field survey and excavation in the prominent Jebel Qurma range close to the Jordan-Saudi border.

Follow the project on Facebook.

Valverde, Dominican Republic

The summer has flown by and the Nexus 1492 team in Valverde, Dominican Republic, has once again had an exciting and successful season!

Excavations took place at the late Ceramic Age site of El Carril (11-14thcentury). El Carril is a site with mounds and levelled areas, on which the Amerinidan inhabitants constructed their houses. This year, we have registered 102 mounds, 616 postholes, 25 hearth features and 4 burials. Surveys were carried out simultaneously to document the landscape around the site.

Have a look at the video with impressions from the field work, put together by field assistant Finn van der Leden.

Fieldwork Impressions - Dominican Republic 2018

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Watch the video on the original website or

Molise, Central-Southern Italy

An international team of students and researchers participated in the 2018 Leiden University field school in the Upper Tappino Valley. This year's campaign focused on the analysis and conservation of archaeological finds collected in previous campaigns, as well as aerial archaeology and other remote sensing methods.

The Tappino Area Archaeological Project aims to map and analyze ancient settlement patterns and dynamics in a small valley in Central-Southern Italy, in modern Molise (province of Campobasso). The first sites in the area date to the Bronze Age. In the Iron Age to Classical period, it was reportedly inhabited by the Italic tribe of the Samnites. The area was subsequently incorporated by the expanding Roman empire, and also shows a rich archaeological record for the Late Antique and Medieval period.

For more information visit the project websites of Leiden University and the Centro Didattico di Studi Archeologici di Jelsi. Or follow the centre on Facebook.

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