Materiality of Foodstuffs – publication by UWTSD staff

Examples of Late Bronze Age 'kitchenalia' from Arediou, Cyprus.

Examples of Late Bronze Age ‘kitchenalia’ from Arediou, Cyprus.

Staff from the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts are involved in publishing the results of an interdisciplinary project funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation,which examined the materiality of foodstuffs. This project brought together an international team of scholars from diverse fields of Archaeology, Egyptology, Anthropology, Geography and Food Studies for two workshops in Lampeter (May 2014 and January 2015), the results of which have begun to appear in press. The focus was on the objects used to prepare, wrap, package and serve food as much as on the substances consumed.

 

Dr Steel with Papa Charalambos at Arediou, examining finds from the excavation

Dr Steel with Papa Charalambos at Arediou, examining finds from the excavation

In the most recent edition of the Food Studies journal Gastronomica (published by California University Press) Dr Louise Steel (Reading in Mediterranean Archaeology) explores daily household experiences with food and drink in Bronze Age Cyprus, how these household practices shaped people’s identities and how these intangibles are visible to the archaeologist in the form of pots and pans, querns and grinding stones. Much of Louise’s article, Kitchenalia in Bronze Age Cyprus, focuses on the rich material remains (pottery and groundstone tools) from her excavations at the Late Bronze Age settlement of Arediou.

 

Offering plate from the Egyptian collection at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum

Offering plate from the Egyptian collection at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum

In the forthcoming volume, Exploring the Materiality of Foodstuffs (Steel and Zinn eds., published by Routledge) Dr Katharina Zinn examines magical substitutes for food in ancient Egyptian funerary ritual. The focus of her chapter is a miniature clay offering plate from the Egyptian collection at Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil. This vessel was a used by the ancient Egyptians to provision and sustain the dead during the afterlife, typically being placed outside the tomb in the cult chapel where it received “symbolic” offerings of food and drink.

 

Posted in Ancient World, Anthropology, Archaeology, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Prime Patterns: the Ceredigion Art Trail at the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives

Stefan Samociuk with his artwork at the RBLA

Stefan Samociuk with his artwork at the RBLA

Throughout August, Ceredigion Art Trail organised exhibitions by local artists across the county. In Lampeter there was artwork displayed in Victorial Hall, showcasing a mixture of professional, student and community art, and at the library at UWTSD Lampeter.

The exhibition hosted by the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives was called Prime Patterns and was created by local artist Stefan Samociuk, whose work is inspired by Islamic and Arabic design and is based on Euclidian geometry. With a background in physics, Samociuk uses computers to express mathematical patterns derived from prime numbers in the form of images. The artwork he displayed in the RBLA included ceramic tiles, textile prints, a giant mosaic and a video of the artist’s work.

The copy of the Qu'ran used in the exhibition.

The copy of the Qu’ran used in the exhibition.

With its fantastic collection of historial materials, the RBLA was able to display Samociuk’s work alongside artefacts which help to explain the cultural background of this work. Samociuk’s artwork was accompanied by exhibits from the RBLA which told the story of the preservation of Euclidian geometry by Arab scholars and its rediscovery by Western scholars during the Renaissance. The RBLA items on display included a centuries-old manuscript of the Qu’ran (right) and an early printed copy of Euclid.

More images from the exhibition can be  seen in this video:

Posted in Religion Tagged with: , , , , ,

Kissonoger Skalia Excavation 2016

This post was written by Charlie Kerslake, who is studying Ancient History and Archaeology at UWTSD Lampeter.

Content note: this post contains photos of human skeletal remains.

The LARC Experience:

Paphos Mosaics 09/07/2016. Paul Croft and the LARC Group silhouetted against Mosaic at Palace in Paphos. Roman Period. (c) Charlie Kerslake.

Paphos Mosaics 09/07/2016. Paul Croft and the LARC Group silhouetted against Mosaic at Palace in Paphos. Roman Period. (c) Charlie Kerslake.

We got to without hassle at Paphos international airport in the late evening, then made our way to the airport bus to the town of Paphos itself to locate a taxi without a hitch. We arrived at the Lemba Archaeological Research Centre run by Paul Croft, a lovely renovated, Turkish-Cypriot house where we would stay for the next three weeks, sleeping on the roof on mattresses under the stars.

The other students trickled in and before we knew it we would be starting our 4:30am wake up scheme to head to site for around 5:30am each day. A tough regime but worth it. The accommodation itself is 15 minutes from the beach and hardly a walk from a small valley nature reserve/park. A truly lovely place.

The site we worked at was shared by two groups. One was made up of around 30 Manchester students working on the Bronze Age part of the site where they found winding walls, rectangular rooms and a metric tonne of pottery. They also has Chalcolithic finds such at pictorite pendants and figurines. Their star find was one half of a bronze/copper axe head – only one other of that shape and date has been found on Cyprus to this day. Our corner however was the Chalcolithic site which was revealed due to the agricultural terracing of the 1970s. All the Bronze Age material had been removed from this corner due to sloping.  We removed the backfill and tarp, un-weeded the previous trial trench and got to it. The trial trench had a burial from the previous year that had been excavated, so five members of our group worked upon that trench, whereas myself and three others got a new trench – a virgin trench to work upon ourselves.

Over the first week we sadly only found topsoil in our little trench, different layers of disturbed topsoil mind you, but topsoil none the less. We dubbed ourselves ‘The Topsoil Team’, and the word ‘topsoil’ was subsequently banned from our trench due to the sheer amount of it. Don’t get me wrong, we found pottery, animal bone, and an intact spindle in the topsoil layers… but it was mainly disturbed by machine ploughs of the 1950s, and then of the 1970s. The group in the other trench, however, found themselves not one burial, but two. And further excavations post-dig by Paul Croft reveal yet another with a stone slab undisturbed in-situ. We found many sherds of pottery ranging from early chalcolithic with its glossy sheen, to middle chalcolithic with its red-white patterning, then the more boring late chalcolithic with its distinct uniformity with the Anatolian Trade Network. The first week was perhaps the hardest, with first-time diggers being unable to use a mattock properly; some, despite instruction, continued their bad practise through till third week, but they’ll learn eventually. The students who had been on previous digs were quick to aid those whom had never trowelled or mattocked before, showing them the proper practise. There was a helpful air. And the team was fun and exuberant, with many songs made up to get us through the long days such as: a rendition of ‘Work’ by Rhianna with the words being changed to ‘Diggin’ in the dirt, dirt dirt, dirt dirt.’ And many more for our archaeology mixtape.

Lecture on Human Bones given by Michelle. 17/07/2016. Michelle showing us the different between human bones of an adult and an infant, hoe easily they can be mistaken for animal bone. (c) Charlie Kerslake.

Lecture on Human Bones given by Michelle. 17/07/2016. Michelle showing us the different between human bones of an adult and an infant, hoe easily they can be mistaken for animal bone. (c) Charlie Kerslake.

Throughout the excavation we received tuition from the brilliant minds of Cyprus on the different aspects of archaeology. Paul Crofts gave a lecture on animal bones and what they mean, how to excavate them, and how integral they are to archaeology. Ellen gave a talk on ground stone and how the different indicators mean different types of ways the stones were used. Michelle gave an extensive talk on human bones, showing us how to identify age, gender and disease, and how to excavate, clean and handle them. We absorbed all this useful information. I’ve got to say my favourite was the talk on lithic and flint by Carol, the leading flint expert of Cyprus. She showed us what the shapes meant, the typology, where they came from, where large amounts of lithic can be found in Cyprus, how to take care of flint, and how to reconstruct knapping. It was all very interesting. Lindy also did a lecture on pottery after 1-2 hours of pottery washing each day… the lecture was lost on us, we never wanted to see pottery again!

Tomb of Kings, 13/07/2016. Part of our group inside one of the Hellenistic tombs which has been uncovered via quarrying. (c) Charlie Kerslake & Paul Croft.

Tomb of Kings, 13/07/2016. Part of our group inside one of the Hellenistic tombs which has been uncovered via quarrying. (c) Charlie Kerslake & Paul Croft.

Not only did we sponge off the knowledge of all these experts of Cyprus, we were also taken on multiple trips throughout Paphos. Paul took us to a Neolithic well which was 12 metres deep. He explained how they would find these vast amounts of water, about the lack of wells found and the inference that many had been missed or destroyed by development. He also described how the discovery of one well meant that a previous student of his discovered a new species of long-extinct shrew… which led to him discovering a new species which was the distant relatives of the extinct species! We also visited the Roman Mosaics in Pathos, the Tomb of the Kings (which held no kings, only filthy rich Hellenistic nobles). He also took us to the Temple of Aphrodite where we saw the various stages of occupation and worship there, from Bronze Age to Roman, we visited the Paphos Museum, visited a Medieval sugar factory, a church which was built on a Roman Basilica, the Roman amphitheatre, two different fully-excavated chalcolithic sites with reconstructed roundhouses – Kissoneger-Mosfillia, Lemba – and many more sites where we could soak up the culture and information.

Our group was cemented together through our mutual love of archaeology, Cyprus, the sites.

During second week a few of us learnt the hard way the consequences of staying hydrated during excavating in the heat – myself included – and one cannot stress enough the intake of sugar, salt, and water that is needed to help keep you healthy and keep nutrients in. Others similarly learnt about the importance of sun tan lotion and bug spray. Cyprus can be unforgiving to those who aren’t vigilant to these things.

Picture of Michelle excavating bone from the chalcolithic Burial under the protection of a sun parasol, 17/07/2016. (c) Charlie Kerslake.

Picture of Michelle excavating bone from the chalcolithic Burial under the protection of a sun parasol, 17/07/2016. (c) Charlie Kerslake.

It was also during this week that we finally reached the bottom of the topsoil, by this point we were the only trench on site that needed a ladder to get down into! We got onto a cobble layer, which Paul at one point suspected of being an ancient water source or ravine. Lindy thought she saw a post-hole and plaster… but I’ll leave it at that there, as even the experts were scratching their heads at our mysterious cobbles and a large pile of rubble which we had uncovered. Much animal bone was found in the silt layer which preceded the cobbles, along with chalcolithic pottery, lots of flint, and many shells, and a few pieces of ground stone. A star find of ours was a piece of worked bone which was distinctly needle-shaped . Meanwhile the other trench found an amazing pictorite pendant with its worked hole intact and distinct grooves where the piece connected to the necklace… along which another burial. They had to dry sieve to get all the pieces of bone. One burial was in the foetal position whereas the second (found at the feet of the fist) was crumpled, as if throne in with a bag as an afterthought, which left Michelle – our bone expert – confused.

Picture of our trench nearly fully-excavated. Pit half-finished. Cobblestone layer seen and sections in the wall, 21/07/2016.(c) Charlie Kerslake.

Picture of our trench nearly fully-excavated. Pit half-finished. Cobblestone layer seen and sections in the wall, 21/07/2016.(c) Charlie Kerslake.

In the final stages of the third week we discovered that our pile of rubble – which we had hoped was a burial – was in fact a pit. We found two fully intact lizard skeletons, a few pieces of fallow deer bones, and a lot of pottery as we worked upon removing the cobble layer. The cobble layer itself seemed to be made of pottery as well as cobbles, supposedly from hill-wash. We excavated the pit, finally finding the bottom of it two days before the end of the dig; it was a metre or so deep and ended at a clay deposit at the bottom with no real finds within, except the huge stones we’d had to excavate and remove gently. This puzzled Paul greatly as the pottery finds within the context of the pit were Bronze Age with a few tubular spouts, handles and large pieces and the area around was chalcolithic still… the Bronze Age part of the site found a large vessel which was hollowed out for draining among other pits for drainage but what was weird about ours was that the bottom was clay, therefore it would be unable to be used as a drainage pit.

In the last week we had an open day where we would take the visiting public on site tours, excluding the mention of the burials to remove the risk of looting to our site. We also held the ever famous Dig Olympics. Events included the Wheelbarrow Fillings, Wheelbarrow Dash, Trowel Darts, Stone-in-the-Bucket, Stone Put, Spoil Heap Climb, and the Protein Cigar. I happened to win silver for the Stone Put event, despite all the other contestants being twice my size in height and width. Another member of our team won silver in the Wheelbarrow Filling, gold in the Wheelbarrow Dash, bronze in Trowel Darts, and bronze in the Protein Cigar. Overall we won silver for the Chalco-Corner, making Paul very proud.

All in all it was an excellent experience with more confusion and questions raised than questions answered. Although it was hard and toiling work it was worth it for the friendships made, the finds found, and the sights seen. I would definitely recommend it to any up-and-coming archaeology student who wants experience on the field. Paul can explain dumpy levels better in 5 minutes than anyone else in a whole lecture. And we got to learn a lot about post-excavation. Taking part in dry-sieving, wet-sieving, pottery sherd washing, flint washing, bone washing, section-drawings and many more skills.

It was well and truly brilliant.

Posted in Ancient World, Archaeology, History, Humanities, Research, Student Life, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Women in Antiquity by UWTSD Archaeologists

Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World (edited by Stephanie Budin and Jean MacIntosh Turfa; London, Routledge 2016)

Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World
(edited by Stephanie Budin and Jean MacIntosh Turfa; London, Routledge 2016)

Hot off the press this important new book explores the lives of women across the ancient world, from Mesopotamia and Egypt to the classical civilisations of the Mediterranean and as far as the Celtic fringe. The chronological span is equally vast, from the third millennium BC to the early centuries AD. The chapters have been written by a veritable “Who’s who” of international scholars, including two of our very own members of staff: Dr Louise Steel and Dr Katharina Zinn. Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World
was edited by Stephanie Budin and Jean MacIntosh Turfa, and published by Routledge 2016. It has already been positively received by academics. In the words of Agnès Garcia-Ventura of the Università degli Studi di Roma: “Women in Antiquity is an extremely useful compilation which is intended to be, without doubt, a reference book for all those with an interest in well-written ancient history spanning all its complexity, a must that cannot go missing from any library.”

 

Dr Louise Steel, Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at UWTSD

Dr Louise Steel, Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at UWTSD

Dr Louise Steel’s chapter focuses on daily life for the urban-dwelling women of Late Bronze Age Cyprus, in particular economic production within the household (grinding grain, water carrying) as well as their social roles as mothers who ensured the continuation of the family line. She considers how these women might have interacted beyond the family space of the household and whether they were able to accumulate and control wealth within their own right.

Louise is a Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at UWTSD. She works on interconnections in the Bronze Age Mediterranean, and for the last several years has been excavating in Cyprus at the very important site Bronze Age site Arediou-Vouppes. Louise teaches extensively on the ancient Mediterranean and on materiality across the archaeology and ancient history degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

 

Dr Katharina Zinn

Dr Katharina Zinn

Dr Katharina Zinn’s chapter takes us to the city of Amarna. Alongside the evocative lives of Nefertiti and the other royal women of Amarna, she also introduces the reader to the lesser known non-royal women from this town, including the nurses who suckled the many children of the royal household, the inhabitants of the private residencies and the individuals buried in the South Tombs Cemetery.

Katharina is a Senior Lecturer in Egyptology at UWTSD. She works primarily on Material Culture /Museology and Egyptology, and is UWTSD’s resident Egyptologist. Additionally, Katharina over the last few years has been working with Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil, to curate their unpublished Egyptian collection. Every year, she leads a team of UWTSD students to explore objects from the collection, and exhibit them at the museum and on campus. Find out more about Katharina’s work here.

 

Both chapters, and indeed the others in the book, provide a fascinating glimpse into shadowy figures from the ancient world who do not normally figure in narratives of the ancient world.

Posted in Ancient World, Archaeology, Research Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Teaching Chinese Language – an interview

This is an interview with Duo Luan, one of our Chinese Studies Lecturers at UWTSD. This interview was originally published in CLTalk Issue 13.

Duo Luan, Lecturer in Chinese, UWTSD

Duo Luan, Lecturer in Chinese, UWTSD

Duo Luan has been teaching Chinese as a foreign language in the Chinese Studies BA programme at the University of Wales Trinity St. David since 2003. In her day to day teaching, she comes across students from a wide range of backgrounds, and gets a lot of satisfaction from seeing them progress, and enjoy learning Chinese.
Duo’s research and teaching interests lie in the areas of Chinese Visual Learning (CVL), and language and cognition. Duo believes that the CVL approach helps learners progress more rapidly by enhancing understanding through the use of colour and shape coding. It can be applied to basic patterns of grammar and syntax, so that students grasp meaning visually, rather than needing to map patterns on to English grammatical terms and structures.
She argues that this approach has a huge benefit because students can quickly break down sentences into logical components. It is particularly useful with characters where students can understand meaning with less pinyin support – they are instead pushed to consider the logic of full sentences.
Duo says, ‘It is clear from the research that has been conducted over the last few years that the CVL approach can be used successfully, particularly with students who have learning difficulties such as dyslexia, as well as students who favour visual learning and who have no learning difficulties. It also has great potential in early years education where learners more flexibly and quickly absorb patterns and meaning.’
Duo’s students often inspire her with innovative ideas on how Chinese differs from English, and how they develop their own strategies for fixing particularly difficult structures or rules in their heads. She says, for example: ‘The order of subordinate clauses is a major issue in understanding the syntactic differences between English and Chinese.
In English, the attributive clause is always placed to the right of the modified element, which we refer to as a Right Branching Direction (RBD) language. E.g. ‘The flower that you bought is very beautiful.’ In Chinese, this becomes ‘你买的花很 漂亮。’, which is a Left Branching Direction (LBD) language.’ In her lessons, and when considering such clauses, Duo gets students to think of metaphors – she tells students to imagine Chinese language or history as the Yangtze River flowing from the West to the East. Chinese people sit on the river bank facing the West (past) where the water comes from. In focusing on the time sequencing in this way, students see that in Chinese all attributives need to be out in front ‘where they can be seen’.
In contrast, she gets students to imagine Westerners sat on the river bank facing to the East (future). Thus the central word is where this Westerner is and the attributives are to the right. This approach enables students to reflect on their learning, and to grasp difficult concepts and structures. She says, ‘Interestingly, one of my students developed his own hypothesis that the ‘past is always in front’ and ‘the future is always behind’ in Chinese.

UWTSD undergraduates and Confucius Institute students sitting the HSK Chinese exams.

UWTSD undergraduates and Confucius Institute students sitting the HSK Chinese exams.

In Chinese, ‘three days ago’ is ‘三天前’ (literally, ‘three days in front’), and the word ‘未来’ (future, is literally ‘never come’). It’s a great inspiration when students are able to make these sorts of connections on their own, and demonstrate they have an understanding of both culture that influences thought, and language structure.’ L1 intervention is a challenge for every language teacher, and there are effectively two camps on the role of L1 in L2 teaching and learning. There are methodologies that explicitly encourage the use of L2 only in the classroom for maximum exposure, and others that suggest, particularly at beginner and elementary levels, using only L2 can create confusion for learners that don’t have a firm knowledge and basis in the target language.
Duo feels that teachers should take a balanced view as there are benefits on both sides – there are points where L1 should be prohibited, and times when L1 can be used effectively as a form of scaffolding.
She says, ‘As a teacher, I try to incorporate various SLA theories – it’s not about either or…for beginners L1 is important for giving classroom instruction, and for explaining intercultural differences and culturally-rooted thought processes. However, when I am teaching lexical, semantic or syntactic 3 | P a g e content, I avoid the use of L1. My interest and study of visual coding may offer a solution to help avoid the explicit use of L1 in the classroom.’
As Chinese grows in popularity as a language choice in schools throughout the world, the teaching industry faces the challenges of meeting the demand, and maintaining enthusiasm. Duo feels some of the biggest challenges revolve around the development of materials that meet the diverse needs of students. Today’s students are exposed to a much wider range of digital and visual input on a daily basis – and this is affecting how information is processed, and how languages are learned.
Duo says, ‘This calls for teachers and publishers to assess and reconsider pedagogy, and to tailor our teaching materials to accommodate this major shift in both life and learning styles among our students.’

 

Posted in Chinese Studies, Humanities Tagged with: , , , ,

Nautical Archaeology at Solent

This blog was written by Adolfo Miguel Martins, PhD student and early stage researcher in Nautical Archaeology at UWTSD Lampeter.

Garry Momber Maltd. showing the lithics

Garry Momber Maltd. showing the lithics

Situated in Solent eleven meters below surface lays an 8,000 years an old Mesolithic settlement. The archaeological site comprises in situ Mesolithic artefacts associated with a submerged landscape. Since 1999 archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Trust (Maltd.) have been diving on site in order to collect suitable data to reconstruct local prehistoric landscapes.

Extensive survey and excavations have been undertaken at a number of locations from which, Stone Age worked flints and Mesolithic worked timbers were found among fallen trees.

Adolfo Miguel Martins

Adolfo Miguel Martins

Last month, I, as a Marie Curie early stage researcher (ForSEAdiscovery Project EU funded PITN-GA-2013-607545) and PhD student based in Lampeter at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, collaborated with archaeologists from Maltd in the course of diving operations at the Bouldnor Cliff area V (BCV).

 

The aims consisted of inspecting the site, record relevant data and recover possible in danger artefacts. First tasks involved the adoption of digital recording techniques. Photographs were taken in way that would cover all area in order to produce a digital representation of it (photogrammetry).

adolfomartins on Sketchfab

This technique has been systematically used to record archaeological sites in the past decade. However, the method of analysis comprised a cross-over of several software merged into a single file. Capable to deliver accurate information from the BCV and at the same time provide visual information for dissemination purposes.

Miguel diving at Solent

Miguel diving at Solent

What I have experienced during a couple weeks working within a commercial environment at Maltd. gave me great pleasure and revealed to be essential to improve skills as an early stage researcher. Diving conditions in the Solent are commonly extraordinary aggressive and frequently involve dealing with strong currents and low visibility which limits the range of possible recording techniques. Despite such adverse conditions, the project aims were successfully achieved!

Expectations are obviously high when visiting such amazing sites.  One of the most rewarding moments for me happened while diving with Garry Momber (project manager). I had the chance to actually feel and touch artefacts shaped by humans 8,0000 years ago. It is moments such as these that keep me motivated to keep studying and continue my research.

 

 

Posted in Archaeology, Research, Student Life Tagged with: , , ,

Lampeter and the Atomic Bomb

The exhibition ‘Lampeter and the Atom Bomb’ illustrates the posting, in December 1947, of Lampeter Lecturer in Philosophy The Revd Raymond Renowden to Japan, when he accompanied the Emperor Hirohito on his visit to Hiroshima.

THE EMPEROR HIROHITO OF JAPAN

(1901-1989)

Hirohito, Emperor of Japan from 1926 until his death, was head of state during the Second World War, and controversy has surrounded him and his role during that conflict ever since. In reality he had very little personal power, and many historians think that he was a reluctant participant in the decisions to go to war with China, and the attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour in 1941.

By 1945, when the defeat of Japan seemed immanent, Hirohito favoured peace negotiations, and, after the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, insisted that his country surrender.

In post-war years, he travelled throughout Japan, and visited the devastated city of Hiroshima on 7th December, 1947. Personally he was a studious man, with an international reputation as a marine biologist, publishing a number of scholarly works. His standing was recognised in 1971 with his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

 

The Revd Raymond Renowden

The Revd Raymond Renowden

THE REVEREND RAYMOND RENOWDEN

(1923-2000)

 

The son of the Revd Charles Renowden, Raymond was born in 1923. He was educated at Llandysul Grammar School and St David’s College, Lampeter, graduating with a First in Theology. During his time as an undergraduate, he served in the Home Guard, and his reminiscences of these years were published in the history of the college, A Bold Imagining, in 2002. In 1944 he joined the Army Intelligence Corps, and was posted to India, where he learned – and became fluent in – Japanese (something of which his subsequent students were totally unaware). Late in 1945 he was posted to Japan, after the surrender, and here, on 7th December 1947 he accompanied the Emperor Hirohito on his visit to Hiroshima. The area was still suffering from the effects of radiation, and these made themselves felt in his body half a century later, necessitating a serious operation. On demobilisation, Renowden resumed his academic career, firstly at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and then at Ridley Hall. After ordination, he served as a curate in Pembrokeshire (his only parochial appointment) before returning to Lampeter as Lecturer in Philosophy in 1955. Head of Department from 1957, generations of students would recall his meticulously prepared, systematic lectures, delivered with clarity and precision. In 1971 he was appointed Dean of St Asaph Cathedral, a post he held with distinction until retirement in 1992. He died in 2000, at the age of 76.

 

Posted in History, Philosophy & Ethics Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Peer Assisted Study Sessions at UWTSD Lampeter

This blog was written by Tom Butterworth, a UWTSD Philosophy student. 

PASS Leaders with their awards from the 2016 Ceremony

PASS Leaders with their awards from the 2016 Ceremony

I first heard about PASS coming to UWTSD Lampeter was when I received an email informing me that, if I wanted to, I could become a PASS leader. PASS is the Peer Assisted Study Sessions project. This was an interesting prospect as PASS seemed perfect for facilitating the learning of my fellow humanities students. PASS is unique in that the leaders (those who run the groups), do not impart knowledge but rather run sessions which act in a way like discussion groups based around the topics that either the lecturers or the students find to be tricky concepts that could do with some reinforcement.

Leaders are selected by lecturers and are then evaluated by the PASS supervisors during a training program on their ability to work in the PASS environment. This system means that lecturers can rest assured that those who are running the PASS sessions are a safe pair of hands in that they have both the knowledge and the personality best suited for the program.

Dr Mirjam Plantinga, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience), presenting one of the PASS Leaders with his award.

Dr Mirjam Plantinga, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience), presenting one of the PASS Leaders with his award.

PASS has been tested across many different universities and with many different types of courses but personally I think that it is perfectly suited to the humanities. This is due to the fact that at the heart of PASS is the idea that real progress can only happen via collaborated work. Having experienced students helping newer students sets up the right culture from the beginning for many students. This then will carry on with them throughout their careers, something I know all too well is vital in the interconnected world of the humanities.

Traditionally, PASS sessions work by having a pair of student leaders running a session for those in their first year of study, which is tied to a particular module. As mentioned previously the sessions are very flexible to suit the best interests of those who attend as well as the course.

Kate Butler and Adrian Davis, the UWTSD Lampeter PASS supervisors.

Kate Butler and Adrian Davis, the UWTSD Lampeter PASS supervisors.

For the Lampeter Campus at least, this approach has had mixed success with some PASS sessions working well with this model, while others struggled to attract the required student numbers. Interestingly the struggle to attract student numbers is a by-product of one of Lampeter’s greatest strengths: our fantastic student-to-lecturer ratios. In many universities PASS does well as it allows students to access reliable sources when it is almost impossible to get in contact with lecturers. In Lampeter we do not have that problem at all, which in turn means one of the greatest ways for PASS to retain student numbers has been lost. But this then means that we must adapt the PASS sessions to better suit Lampeter’s unique situation. One possible way is to offer a more structured format, such as a reading group, which is more integrated within the program of study, still optional but seen as a more integral part of the university experience, another possibility is to run it as a drop-in-session where students can come and go as they please over a session.

In conclusion, PASS is still in its infancy at UWTSD and has plenty of room to grow, adapt and prosper as time goes on. We are looking more and more into new ways of working with the various schools, and addressing new and interesting ways to boost the student experience, as well as create a culture in which students helping other students becomes increasingly normalised.

Posted in Humanities, Student Life Tagged with: , , , , ,

Living in China – the journey of a UWTSD alumnus

This blog was written by Scott Gerard, a UWTSD BA Chinese Studies graduate (2014), who went to China to study at postgraduate level. 

Scott has now graduated from Wuhan University with a Masters in Applied Economics. Congratulations, Scott!

Scott has now graduated from Wuhan University with a Masters in Applied Economics. Congratulations, Scott!

When I first arrived in China in 2013, I was too nervous to talk to most Chinese and try new small exciting food in restaurants. Fast forward 3 years and I’m graduating with a master’s degree in economics from a 211 university (in Chinese terms a university that is 211 or 985 is a very good Chinese university).

My first time in China was 6 months as an exchange student in Beijing during my degree; I had such a great experience there that I had to come back by any means. I applied and won a Chinese government scholarship and with guidance selected Wuhan as my new Chinese city.

image4The last two years in Wuhan  have been amazing for me. I made many Chinese and international friends. I have tried so much outstanding cuisine at very cheap prices (my favourite was Wuhan’s very own re gan mian, or hot dry noodles in a sesame paste for about 40 pence).

I travelled all around China very easily on their fantastic and vastly growing and improving infrastructure and saw many people, sites and cities. Despite the culture, the cuisine, the places all being fantastic, I think the main reason I love China is the people.

Chinese people are so friendly and will go out their way to help foreigners, they will tell you good places to go, where the best local restaurants are, invite you to eat a lot, invite you to go drink and play mah Jiang a lot, and if you want to learn Chinese they will be patient and try to help you.

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In the Chinese New Year I was invited to 3 different Chinese  friends’ hometowns, all fed me to bursting point and gave me various Chinese  spirits to enjoy with them! To be invited in at such an important time for Chinese people everywhere was an honour for me.

Sometimes China is presented badly in the media, but in regards to the people and the country nothing could be further from the truth.

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Posted in Chinese Studies Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Archaeological Discoveries at Llanllyr – Nuns, Trees and 3D Technology

 

This blog was written by Dr Jemma Bezant, UWTSD Lecturer in Archaeology, and a member of the excavation team at Llanllyr Mansion.

Dr Jemma Bezant

Dr Jemma Bezant

They say every good archaeologist has a wish list. A list of fabulous, intriguing and exciting places where great archaeology is sure to be found. Llanllyr is one such site and has been on my particular wish list for a long, long while. Recently we have been fortunate to start tentative investigations here – partly in collaboration with Dyfed Archaeological Trust and Cadw, but also with the input of international researchers – historians, timber experts and archaeology students from UWTSD Lampeter.

To those in the know, Llanllyr is renowned as the site of a rare female monastic house, founded by the legendary Lord Rhys ap Gruffydd in the late 12th century. He patronised the famed Cistercian Strata Florida Abbey and endowed them with extensive upland sheep granges in the Cambrian Mountains – the largest monastic holding in the country. Annual excavations here since 2004 have established a rich and complex monastic precinct set into a dramatic and historic mountain landscape of farms and fells.

Data from all of the archaeological excavations and surveys are kept in a Project GIS (Geographic Information System). Lidar data show here is at 1m resolution supplied by Environment Agency. This has been processed to supply a hillshade bitmap based on topographical heights. You can see rectangular and linear features within the overgrown 'fishponds' area circled in red.

Data from all of the archaeological excavations and surveys are kept in a Project GIS (Geographic Information System). Lidar data show here is at 1m resolution supplied by Environment Agency. This has been processed to supply a hillshade bitmap based on topographical heights. You can see rectangular and linear features within the overgrown ‘fishponds’ area circled in red.

 

The modest Llanllyr estate is nestled in the beautiful green Welsh hills just a 10-minute cycle from the coast and Cardigan Bay. How, and where, the female community lived is a tantalising mystery – this kind of detail is poorly recorded by annals and texts so archaeology can help us answer some of these fundamental questions. Who were these nuns and where did they live? Did they have elaborate monastic cloisters, mills, chapter houses, a fine church? Did they farm – did they mix with local secular communities – how did they relate to their ‘mother house’ at Strata Florida?

Discovery

It was during joint excavations of the early mansion site in 2014 between UWTSD and Dyfed Archaeological Trust, that another exciting discovery caught our attention…

Aerial Lidar survey of an enclosed area nearby had showed that there were a series of mysterious linear banks masked by mature trees.  At the base of a deep ditch next to this area, a chance discovery of some oak timber fragments led to the interesting prospect of the very first evidence for medieval activity anywhere on the site.

 

The 800 year old timber structure - the timber 'cover' has been recorded and removed. Dendrochronological analysis will continue in order to refine the dating even further

The 800 year old timber structure – the timber ‘cover’ has been recorded and removed. Dendrochronological analysis will continue in order to refine the dating even further

Dendrochronological analysis of some of these timbers by Dr Rod Bale at UWTSD Lampeter Archaeology Labs showed that the trees used to construct this structure had been growing over 900 years ago! This was indeed a medieval timber structure – the wet conditions had prevented the wood from decaying over time and this was a very rare and significant find.

Excavation

A team from Lampeter with experience in wetland archaeology and the recovery and analysis of archaeological timbers decided that further excavation was in order, to prevent any potential damage to the structure by drain clearance, and to recover more information about the age and function of the structure. What was it and just how old was it?

Figure 1 Lots of archaeological head scratching: Left to right, 1st year archaeology student, Tanith McGarry takes notes next to PhD Andrew Peters who discovered the initial timber fragments in 2014. Visiting timber expert, dendrochronologist and Marie Curie Fellow, Peter Groenendijk from Wageningen University in the Netherlands is next to Dr Jemma Bezant of UWTSD who is ‘supervising’. And UWTSD Professor of Archaeology, dendrochronologist, timber and shipwreck expert, Nigel Nayling is in the hole doing all the hard work!

Figure 1 Lots of archaeological head scratching: Left to right, 1st year archaeology student, Tanith McGarry takes notes next to PhD Andrew Peters who discovered the initial timber fragments in 2014. Visiting timber expert, dendrochronologist and Marie Curie Fellow, Peter Groenendijk from Wageningen University in the Netherlands is next to Dr Jemma Bezant of UWTSD who is ‘supervising’. And UWTSD Professor of Archaeology, dendrochronologist, timber and shipwreck expert, Nigel Nayling is in the hole doing all the hard work!

During May 2016, an archaeological excavation project allowed part of the timber structure to be carefully uncovered, recorded and dismantled before the individual pieces were removed to the specialist facilities at the Lampeter laboratories. The structure resembled a box-like wooden drain, made of finely worked oak timbers with radially-split planks on the base and a thicker timber cover. The workmanship and timber suggested a high status and complex object – typical perhaps of the kind of water management that the Cistercians were so famous for but so rarely survives.

Figure 2 A scale drawing of the timber structure. The sturdy side rails are large quartered oak timbers severla metres long. The base boards are finely worked, radially-split oak planks - crafted using similar techniques to coopering or barrel-making. These came from mature, slow-growing oak trees – a prized resource. J Bezant.

Figure 2 A scale drawing of the timber structure. The sturdy side rails are large quartered oak timbers severla metres long. The base boards are finely worked, radially-split oak planks – crafted using similar techniques to coopering or barrel-making. These came from mature, slow-growing oak trees – a prized resource. J Bezant.

Had we located, in fact, part of a Cistercian fishpond complex, part of a complicated water supply system, or something else – a mill mechanism?

This discovery is a uniquely rare opportunity to look at the lives of monastic communities hundreds of years ago. But careful analysis of the palaeoenvironmental record and the tree ring data can also show us how timber was supplied, stored and worked with adze and axe. How were woodland landscapes managed – how and where the trees were grown and harvested for use in a wide range of purposes and functions from making barrels to store food, to shipbuilding for coastal and international trade.

Further analysis is ongoing and the team will be able to refine
the dating, investigate the historical context further and look at palaeoenvironmental samples for more information.

Figure 3 Dr Rod Bale is recording one of the side rail timbers using 3D engineering technology. You can see the Faro Arm is recording minute detail about timber grain, tool marks, knots, holes and joints –the 3D model being constructed on the monitor live. The timbers will be ‘fitted’ back together digitally and reconstructed in virtual space as a research and teaching tool.

Figure 3 Dr Rod Bale is recording one of the side rail timbers using 3D engineering technology. You can see the Faro Arm is recording minute detail about timber grain, tool marks, knots, holes and joints –the 3D model being constructed on the monitor live. The timbers will be ‘fitted’ back together digitally and reconstructed in virtual space as a research and teaching tool.

Posted in Archaeology, Medieval Studies, Research Tagged with: , , , ,

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