Sunday, 1 January 2017

Best in 2016

The hafted axe from Must Farm
(Cambridge Archaeological Unit, linked from the BBC site)

This is the time of the year when different organisations and media outlets have been naming the most important archaeological sites or finds. When looking at Britain there is no match to Must Farm, the water-logged Bronze Age sites named a northern Pompeii. The site was destroyed in a fire and the remains that collapsed into water have revealed unexpected insights to the daily life and technology, including all the wooden details of then everyday. This site was Heritage Daily’s number 1. The number 2 went for a Swedish find, albeit in Greece. The archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg have found an unknown Greek town from Thessaly.

Must Farm was also BBC’s number 1. They also acknowledged the start of the Anthropocene from AD 1950. However, they also pointed out how human activities have influenced environment long before modern times. It is suggested that the beginning of agriculture meant that the World was warming up already then thousands of years ago, perhaps leading to an avoidance of a new Ice Age.

On the Live Science web site the list of the finds of 2016 is naturally deprived of Must Farm, being a company with a major presence in the States. They do have offices in Europe, In the UK, Germany, France and Italy, but their list if filled with the more main stream, ‘exotic’ archaeological sites, including the reopening and the study of Jesus’s tomb and new piece of the Dead Sea Scroll. They also list the youngest individual mummified in ancient Egypt, a perhaps 20 weeks old foetus in the collections of Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. They also notify El Castillo pyramid at Chichén Itzá including three pyramids one above each other on the same spot ranging from c. AD 600–800 to the date just before year AD 1000.

The reality is that it is very difficult to surpass Must Farm and its hafted bronze tools and other magnificient finds. However, Must Farm is only one of the nominees for the Current Archaeology Awards 2017. You can go and vote for the innovation of the last 50 years and the book of the year among different categories, voted by the general public. In that way, you can participate in archaeology right at the beginning of 2017.