Posted on Feb 26, 2015
by Claire Malleson (Director of Archaeological Science, Lab Manager and archeo-botanist)
Once again, we are back working in the AERA lab workroom on the Giza plateau. Every year a team of specialists gathers to study, record, draw, photograph and analyze all the archaeological materials; ceramics, animal bones, plants, lithics, pigments, mud seal impressions, mudbricks, soil cores, human skeletons and objects.
I first joined this team in 2007 (during an AERA/MSA fieldschool season) to assist Dr. Mary Anne Murray, who was the Director of Archaeological Science, Lab manager and Archaeobotanist. After several weeks at the microscope I was hooked, continued to train with her here, and I now work as a specialist at many sites in Egypt. Since 2013 I have also been Director of Archaeological Science and Lab Manager here for AERA. I love working with plant remains and I love running the lab; looking after the team, managing the work we do here. One of the things that I loved most about AERA during my first season was the fieldschool, but it is only this season that I am fully involved for the first time, so returning this year to run the lab and teach Archaeobotany and Lab/workroom management is especially exciting for me.… READ MORE »
Posted on Feb 10, 2014
By Richard Redding
I am looking forward to arriving in Egypt on April 10th. Our research design this season has unified our excavation and material culture studies strategies. I will be looking at the animal bone from the Silo Building Complex (SBC) testing the idea that the area was occupied by priests associated with offerings for one or more of the Pharaohs whose tombs lie at Giza. How can animal bones tell us about the “job” of the residents of an area? How can I test this idea?
The SBC complex in 2012. View to the west, photo by Mark Lehner.
Posted on Jul 7, 2011
Posted by Mary Anne Murray
Well, that was a long and interesting Giza Lab season! The Giza Field Lab was open from January 8th and closed its doors on May 31st. There were scheduled to be 36 specialists working in the Lab on the material culture and environmental evidence excavated from our sites in 2011, however due to recent events in Egypt only 24 specialists participated this time around. The main objective of the 2011 season overall was to have each team member finish the analysis of their class of material culture from Area AA at Heit el-Ghurab (HeG) for publication, including ceramics, all manner of artifacts, clay sealings, human bone, animal bone, plants, lithics, and pigments. We also made inroads into two new areas of endeavor, however, by having specialists in environmental change and residue analysis visit to assess possibilities of future analysis.
Dr. Roger Flower, University College London, visited the lab for a week in March. He primarily looked at an array of our many drill cores from our sites to detect Nile silts lain from flood deposits by processing and analyzing soil samples microscopically for the sedimentary remains of microfauna indicative of former lakes, pools or wetland areas.… READ MORE »
Posted on May 18, 2011
Posted by Steve LaPidus
I have spent the last six weeks as a volunteer on the AERA Giza Plateau Project with some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people I have ever met. I went on a site tour set up for the team early on in the schedule. We had a chance to walk through the sites, to listen to presentations and to ask questions on the project’s operations. It was easy to understand why there was a requirement by the Egyptian Government and AERA to submit your security paperwork six months in advance. It is obvious how much thought goes into the selection of the team members because there are multiple openings on the project and for each opening, there is a specific expert with just the right background and interest.
For the first five weeks, I shared a local apartment with a Swedish human osteologist Johnny (“Bones” for all of you who watch the TV show). He explained to me how he reviewed the excavated burials and drew the skeletons while determining the sex, age at death and whether there was any obvious disease before he had to remove the bones quickly as they easily crumbled apart if left for too long.… READ MORE »
Posted on Feb 21, 2011
Posted by Richard Redding
I am an archaeozoologist, which means I identify and analyze all the fragments of animal bone that come form archaeological sites. I use the information I gather from the fragmented animal bones to examine the diet of the inhabitants and to try and reconstruct their subsistence system. What animals are the residents at a site consuming and what tactics and strategies are they employing? At Giza, in a larger sense, I am trying to understand the economic and social infrastructure of pyramid construction. To get an idea of what I do I suggest you see the “Feeding the Pyramid Builders” article.
To identify the fragmentary bone remains from a site I need to have comparative skeletons of all the animals that might occur. I am always on the look out for animals that I can skeletonize and a big part of my job on any site is compiling a comparative collection. Many years ago, when I had just started in archaeology, I was working in southwestern Iran, and a very famous French archaeologist said to me, rather dismissively, “This collecting of animals, this is not archaeology.” Well, it most definitely is. Some of the most interesting insights about our site have come from analyzing the animal bones.… READ MORE »