Thursday, 28 August 2014

10,000 years of Durham

On 26 July 2014, the Wolfson Gallery became the new home for displays from the Museum of Archaeology. This permanent exhibition uses objects from Museum of Archaeology, alongside objects from across Durham University and other regional museums to explore the last 10,000 years of Durham.

Over the last few months, visitors to the Wolfson Gallery have been able preview a taster exhibition, unearthing the stories of how people have lived and worked in Durham for over 10,000 years.

Living on the Hills explores the lives of people who have lived and visited Durham through the tools and everyday objects they used, and the art and architecture they left behind to be rediscovered. Discover Prehistoric objects found by chance at the turn of the century, Roman objects uncovered by Victorian antiquarians and Medieval objects found during 1970s archaeological excavations.

Community Archaeology
Included in the gallery is a community archaeology space which will showcase the work of local archaeology and history groups from across the region.

Durham Archaeology Explorers, 26 July 2014 - 26 January 2015
Discover the work and activities of the Durham Archaeology Explorers (DAX). See how they engage with children aged 7-11 years to inspire a lifelong interest in, and respect for, archaeology and the people of the past.

If you are part of a community archaeology group and would like to work with the curatorial team to create a display, please contact the museum.

The Wolfson Gallery
The Wolfson Gallery is located on the first floor of Palace Green Library. The Gallery opened in 2011 after undergoing a £2.3m refurbishment, funded in part by a £500,000 donation from the Wolfson Foundation. The Wolfson Gallery is designed to exhibit the collections to the highest standards of conservation.


Monday, 18 August 2014


5th Conference on the Preservation of Archaeological Remains In Situ (PARIS 5).

Where? Kreuzlingen, Switzerland
When? 12-18 April 2015

International legislation like the International Lake Constance Conference or Valetta Treaty, call for the "conservation and maintenance of the archaeological heritage, preferably in situ". Since 1996 research into in situ preservation has been presented at a series of international conferences: Preserving Archaeological Remains In Situ (PARIS).  The fifth of these conferences will be held in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland in April 2015.

The key aim of the conference is to present and discuss the latest knowledge, focusing on long term studies of degradation and monitoring of archaeological sites preserved in situ in urban, rural and marine environments.

The multidisciplinary nature of the previous PARIS conferences, bringing together scientists  heritage managers and policy makers, was one of their main strengths. 

Considering this the organizers call for presentations from practitioners and stakeholders to cover 6 themes:
  • Preserving the archaeology of the Lake Constance area
  • Past mitigation: Successes and failures
  • Preservation in a changing climate and in extreme environments
  • Degradation processes and rates of degradation
  • First things first: Priorities for preservation
  • (Monitoring) + Mitigation

All sessions will be led by a chairman who will both evaluate and comment upon the presentations.

These presentations are planned to be published by Maney Publishing in a special volume edition of Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites.

Monday, 28 July 2014

'Building Strong Culture through Conservation' ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference, Melbourne, Australia

The 17th Triennial Conference of the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC) will attract leading international keynote speakers and up to 800 delegates, including conservators, scientists, historians and art historians, curators, librarians, archivists, students, collection managers and directors from the world’s leading cultural institutions and the private sector.

The culmination of ICOM-CC’s three-year cycle of collaboration and research, the Conference offers technical sessions of the twenty-one specialist Working Groups, keynote speeches, behind the scenes visits to local conservation laboratories and sites of historic interest, cultural and social events as well as numerous opportunities to meet and forge ties with colleagues from every region of the world. Twenty-seven years after its memorable 8th Triennial Conference in Sydney, ICOM-CC is pleased to return to the Australian continent, this time to Melbourne.

Each Triennial Conference is a joint initiative of ICOM-CC and partners in the host country. The Australian National Organizing Committee for the 17th Triennial Conference is comprised of the The Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation of the University of Melbourne and The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM), Australia’s leaders in conservation training and practice. Together, we are working to provide an invigorating, productive, and exceptional Australian experience in September 2014.

Support for the selection and publication of papers and posters in our publication, ICOM-CC Triennial Conference Preprints, has been provided by the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation has provided support for travel grants for cultural heritage professionals from economically challenged and emerging countries.

Register for the conference today >

View the list of papers >

Friday, 18 July 2014

How do you protect what you can't see? The perils of preserving intangible cultural heritage

A recent announcement for the ICOMOS-UK conference on "Intangible Cultural Heritage in the UK: promoting and safeguarding our diverse living cultures" got me thinking about this complex concept and how one actually goes about ensuring the stories, oral histories and ritual traditions that make up a culture don't disappear over time.

An article in Heritage & Society from April 2011, written by Rosabelle Boswell and entitled 'Challenges to Sustaining Intangible Cultural Heritage' addresses the issues facing the conservators that take on this task.

"The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)...refers to the role of intangible cultural heritage in in maintaining diversity, sociality, and understanding. It also notes the interdependence of tangible and intangible heritage and the role of the youth and indigenous people in heritage maintenance."

In this paper Boswell specifically addresses the difficulties of preserving ICH in Africa due to what she calls the "persistent social stratification and inequality" across the continent. She notes that ICH is "(1) dynamic (2) borne by different people and (3) part of living culture. In safeguarding and ultimately preserving ICH one risks ossifying culture, elevating 'specialist' holders of knowledge in the society and neglecting the role played by other 'managers' of heritage."

In the article, Boswell references countries in the Indian Ocean Region, namely Zanzibar, Mauritius and Madagascar, but it seems the issues addressed - such as "commercialization, the potential ossification of culture via preservation and the issues of ambivalent heritage"- have a broader relevance to ICH across the globe.

Read the full article for free >

Monday, 14 July 2014

The future of the past: The Young Archaeologists' Club

In the past I have made posts to this blog that deal with those issues facing archaeology students, academics and practitioners in this tricky and unpredictable economic climate, such as 'What can you do with an archaeology degree besides be an archaeologist?' and today I read this post on Doug's Archaeology entitled 'Why are there so few Archaeologists in such a large country? America’s Archaeology Employment Problems'. Items such as these, though relevant and realistic, can paint a rather bleak picture of the future of the discipline we all know and love so this week I decided to share something positive!  

I have chosen to feature an organisation that is nurturing and encouraging an interest in archaeology amongst the UK's young people - the Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC), the only UK-wide club for young people up to the age of 17 interested in archaeology. 

The club is run by Council for British Archaeology (CBA), an educational charity working for over 65 years to promote ‘Archaeology for All’. YAC’s vision is for all young people to have opportunities to be inspired and excited by archaeology, and to empower them to help shape its future.

The Young Archaeologists’ Club was started 40 years ago in August 1972 by Dr Kate Pretty. Its name back then was Young Rescue and it was the junior branch of RESCUE, the British Archaeological Trust. Initially it was just going to be based in Cambridge but after publicity in The Times it was launched as a national club.

Dig deep for YAC!

The CBA, like many organisations and charities, is facing a challenging financial future. The withdrawal of its main source of public funding has had a major impact on the organisation’s finances. The YAC Branches offer a fantastic range of opportunities for young people to get into archaeology. In 2013 there were 60 Branches in the YAC network, run by some 560 volunteers. Over the year, volunteers delivered 588 activity sessions which provided some 7, 800 opportunities for young people.

You can help YAC by becoming a member, adopting a branch or making a donation.

Learn more about YAC and how you can help >