Questions on Week 4

Hello and welcome to Week Four. This is a question and answer session which normally we have lots of the facilitators and educators here altogether in the same room, but this week lots people are out in the field and so what we’re going to do is record a few question individually and hopefully we can then answer them in the same way that we did last week.

So, the first question I’m going to answer is about Tybrind Vig and a question came in about why we think they had hearths on the canoes found at Tybrind Vig.

I think this is a really, really interesting question because the most obvious answer, of course, is that people wanted to transport fire from place to place. You know it’s really, really difficult to light a fire and you’re not going to just let it go out if you could possibly transport it and save yourself the effort. So, from moving from one settlement to another, for example, from the summer settlement to the winter settlement or a different activity zone you would take that fire with you.

However, there have been lots of different hypotheses that have been put forward. Another one is that people perhaps needed it for warmth whilst on board longer journeys and for cooking fish. We can see this in ethnographic accounts, for example, the aboriginals in Australia quite often use fires on board bark canoes and they use that for cooking and for warmth as well when doing longer trips and we have archaeological evidence to support this from and late Neolithic site in Scandinavia which has a hearth on board the log boat and in this hearth we have charcoal, but we also have burnt fish remains as well so we know that people were cooking fish on these fires.

Another hypothesis was put forward by Anderson which suggested that perhaps these fires were used as fishing lures and you can see fishing lures and lights being used at night for eel-fishing in the same region, so it’s quite a possible hypothesis.

Another question that’s been put forward is why were these boats abandoned?

Now obviously this is something we just don’t really know. But, I think I would wonder whether this is something to do with the changing climate, changing environment because there’s lots of effort put into these boats and if you imagine a 10 metre long boat, you wouldn’t just abandon it for no reason. So perhaps the region slowly began to silt up. We know it was a lagoon, it was a muddy sort-of-lagoonal area, perhaps the conditions were just slowly changing and it just wasn’t viable to use them any more. Or perhaps the people were just moving to a different area and they got left there. So, we just don’t know.

Week 3

3.3 Sea-level change

Catherine Emmitt (retired teacher from the UK): Where [are] we in the Milankovic cycles now?


3.5 Exploring sea-level change

Ariana Bachechi (Chicago, Il, USA): Out of curiosity, I also looked at the maps near the African Great Lakes region and was surprised to see that there is no evidence of them even as early as 6,000 years ago. I was under the impression that they were formed due to tectonic shifts, which will eventually disconnect the horn of Africa. I thought this was an old, and very long, process. Does anyone have more information about how they were formed and when they first appeared?


Week 4

4.5 Studying maritime traditions and skills

Richard Yoast: Can anyone recommend sources that focus on the use of decoration and the arts (sculpture, painting, weaving) in shipbuilding?


4.7 Tybrind Vig, Denmark (5400-4000cal BC)

Astrid Niemann Jorgenson: I wonder why some of these boats were abandoned, wear or just general damage? Also, why was it necessary to transport fire from place to place?


Simon Hodgson: Question that pops into my head; when would gold have first been recognised as an important substance of high status and value? Presumably early on in humanity’s existence, there wouldn’t have been much need or time for pretty trinkets.


4.8 Cape Gelidonya, Turkey (1200BC)

Susan Brett: Marine archaeologists ought to make their work more widely known through television, instead of leaving the broadcast hours to Odyssey Marine.


4.9 The Grace Dieu, England (1439)

How did University of Southampton purchase Grace Dieu for £5?


4.12 UNESCO Convention

Sarah Williams: Can one of the team explain why neither the US and the UK have not signed the Convention? Shame on them.

4:16 Professional, amateur or archaeology for all?

Gordon Dyne: Is it just me or is there an almost evangelical zeal to some of these articles ?

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