Food and Drink in the Past: Transition to Farming


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What does farming have to do with invention and innovation? Permanent residences, division of labour, central government, and complex technologies — all essential for advancing civilizations — could not have been developed without the move from hunting-gathering to farming. In this short animation, Patricia Russac explores how farming was a major innovation leading to the civilization we know today.

Whilst, in this podcast, part of the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects series, Neil MacGregor asks why our ancestors decided to grow and cook new foods, taking a pestle from Papua New Guinea as an example. The answer provides us with a telling insight into the way early humans settled on the land. Becoming farmers and eating food that was harder for other animals to digest made us a formidable force in the food chain. The impact on our environment of this shift to cookery and cultivation is still being felt.

The Open University’s World Archaeology module is available on OpenLearn and this also includes a section on the Origins of Agriculture, which may be of interest to learners.


Beginner’s Guide to Archaeology: Reading List


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Whilst it is not essential to do any background reading before the course begins, you may find it useful to do so. The reading list below contains books that you can read. You don’t have to read all of these and we don’t specify any that you must read. Instead, these are readings you can use to gain a preliminary understanding of topics, as well as to study in more depth those parts of the course you are particularly interested in. You may also want to take a look at magazines such as British Archaeology, World Archaeology and Current Archaeology.

Further suggestions about ways you can extend your understanding of topics through books, television etc may also be posted as appropriate here on the tutor’s personal blog.

Aitken, M. 1990. Science-based Dating in Archaeology. Longman. (Introduces several different science-based dating techniques used by archaeologists)

Bahn, P. 2012. Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. (Latest edition of popular, concise introduction to archaeology)

Drewett, P. 2011. Field Archaeology: An Introduction. (2nd edition). London: Routledge. (Leading text introducing principles of field archaeology)

Gamble, C. 2015. Archaeology: the basics (revised 3nd edition). London: Routledge.(A good general introduction to a lot of concepts)

Gater, J & Gaffney, C. 2003. Revealing the Buried Past: Geophysics for Archaeologists. The History Press Ltd. (A good introduction to archaeological geophysics by the Time Team ‘geofizz’ guys)

Greene, K. & Moore, T. 2010. Archaeology: An Introduction (5th edn). London: Routledge. (A good general introduction. You may also wish to check out the associated online resources:

Renfrew, C & Bahn, P (eds). 2004. Archaeology: The Key Concepts. Routledge Key Guides. (Collection of different chapters written by experts in their field)

Renfrew, C. & Bahn, P. 2016. Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (7th edn). London: Thames and Hudson.  (Aimed at 1st year undergraduates, but still very accessible to read and covers a lot of topics)





Talk: Alice Roberts – Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World


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Alice Roberts – Tamed: Ten Species that Changed our World

Friday 9th February

How do you tame wildness? For thousands of years our ancestors existed in a world where they depended on wild plants and animals. They were hunter-gatherers – consummate survival experts navigating the opportunities and threats the world offered. Then a revolution happened: we started to domesticate wild species and they became crucial to our own survival and success.

Alice Roberts is an anthropologist, writer and broadcaster, and is currently Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. She has presented several landmark BBC series including The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us, Coast, and The Celts. Her recent book on evolutionary biology, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being, was shortlisted for the Welcome Trust Book Prize in 2015.

Join her at the Pearson Centre, Beeston, Nottingham for an evening talk, Q&A and book signing. 7.30-10.00pm, doors open 6.30pm. £18.95, refreshments available. Booking essential: and click on the Wildlife Courses & Lectures category.

Archaeology of Bronze Age Britain


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To discover resources already available on this blog for ‘Archaeology of Bronze Age Britain’ click on the Bronze Age tag in the left hand column and it will take you to all the posts made on that topic to date. Other relevant tags include Prehistory, although the entries covered by that tag may be broader and include earlier as well as later prehistoric themes.

Food and Drink in the Past: Hunter-Gatherers


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In the last session we listened to a short podcast called ‘Chasing Down Dinner’ produced by PBS Nova.  This interviewed Dan Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, to discover why evolving an ability to run long distances might have been key to survival for early humans.

We also looked at how the conception of hunting from a necessary survival skill changed to one relating to social status through time. If you are interested in reading more about this topic, you may wish to check out the links below:

Hunter-Gatherer (Wikipedia)
Why ‘Bushman banter’ was crucial to hunter-gatherers’ evolutionary success (Guardian)
What a hunter-gatherer diet does to the body in just three days (CNN)
Hunting (Wikipedia)
Medieval Hunting (Wikipedia)
Medieval and Renaissance Hunting (Victoria and Albert Museum)

New film reveals challenges behind lifting and conserving a Roman mosaic — ULAS News


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A new film produced by the University of Leicester showcases how archaeologists successfully lifted and conserved a Roman mosaic found in Leicester. During the winter of 2016/17, archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) excavated a large site in Leicester, on the corner of Highcross Street and Vaughan Way next to the John Lewis car […]

via New film reveals challenges behind lifting and conserving a Roman mosaic — ULAS News

On the hunt, some 12.000 years ago: An aurochs bone with hunting lesion from Göbekli Tepe


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All archaeological finds of a site add to its history, but some can capture us with the underlying story. This is the case for an aurochs bone with an embedded flint projectile point fragment discovered during excavations at Göbekli Tepe some years ago. That the aurochs was an important animal to these early Neolithic hunters […]

via On the hunt, some 12.000 years ago: An aurochs bone with hunting lesion from Göbekli Tepe. — The Tepe Telegrams

Food and Drink in the Past: The Culinary Triangle


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In the first session of this course we looked at a number of contextual and theoretical concepts which I hope will continue to inform discussion as we go through future sessions. One of these was Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Culinary Triangle. Those wishing to read more about this subject might wish to look at the following links:

Culinary Triangle (Wikipedia)
The Culinary Triangle: What can Claude Lévi-Strauss teach us about food fads today?
The Culinary Triangle, Food and Culture: A Reader (pdf)

A Beginner’s Guide to Archaeology, Leicester


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Seen archaeological excavations in the news? Want to know more about how archaeology works? This course is for you. We will look at how archaeologists know where to dig, what methods they use, how they know how old something is, and more. Everyone welcome; no previous knowledge assumed. Dates: Monday 29 January – 19 March 2018 Times: […]

via New course: A Beginner’s Guide to Archaeology — WEA Leicester