Hello, I’m Penny and I work as a researcher with Project TIME. I am an archaeobotanist, so I look at plant macro-remains (usually charred fruits and seeds) that are preserved in archaeological deposits. These are good raw materials for radiocarbon dates from excavated sites.
I’m really excited about starting Project TIME’s database, it’s a great opportunity for me to also research lots of archaeobotanical results from the period between 3500 and 2000 BC. I’m particularly interested in looking at contexts where apple remains are found. Crab apples are native trees in Britain and Ireland and their fruit was probably utilised by people from the earliest times. However, several archaeobotanists have noticed that their remains seem more frequent in the period covered by Project TIME, particularly from approximately 3400 BC onwards (for example, see Whitehouse et al. 2014).
So, we’re off! After seemingly months where recruitment of the team has stalled due to the pandemic, and Seren changing jobs and arriving at the wonderful Manchester Metropolitan University (hurrah!), we are finally ready to get going… But, managing a research project that needs a lot of access to museum archives during the time of a global pandemic is not as easy as you might think. Lots of the archives that we hope to visit are currently closed and not accepting research visits, and some of the museums have closed their doors entirely, possibly forever. Throw into the mix an international research project at a time when international travel is not really possible, and we have had to significantly change how we are working on the project. This said, we can still get access to some archives, under very limited conditions. Because of this we are focusing on sites that we can get access to collections and details of the material culture. First up on our list are the sites located around Wyke Down, a really significant series of places for our time period, excavate by a number of researchers including the fabulous Martin Green, whom we hope to interview soon in our podcast series. Given all the difficulties of research work at the moment, we can’t tell you the thrill of receiving in the post an unpublished student thesis with details of the faunal remains from one of the sites. Or the excitement of the team when we start to think about actual sample selection for 14C measurement from the — did we mention this? — *really stonking* series of sites excavated by Martin and his colleagues. This is what makes archives work in archaeology so exciting, being able to revisit colleagues’ work with new techniques! We can’t wait to share some more of the research process and the results as we go.