• Fishing, Diet, and Environment in the Iron Age of the Northern Isles

      Fitzpatrick, Alex (2017-06)
      It has been argued that no fishing occurred during the British Iron Age. However, sites in the Northern Isles have been producing large assemblages of small fish bones, complicating the picture. This project reconsiders this argument by investigating fish bone assemblages excavated from the site of Swandro on Rousay, Orkney. Multiple analytical methods were applied to the assemblages in order to determine the range of species present, the method of capture and treatment of the fish, and their influence on diet. Preliminary work consisted of identifying each individual bone to element and species. Due to the size of the average specimen, scanning electron microscopy was employed to examine samples for any indication of butchery, charring, or digestion. Light isotope analysis was also utilised to determine the effects of fish on the diets of the inhabitants of Iron Age Swandro. Results from these analytical approaches indicated the occurrence of low intensity fishing activity and consumption that had no significant effect on diet. However, intensification in fishing would begin to occur during the Later Iron Age, as evident by a shift in the composition of fish bone assemblages. This project can be considered a pilot study in the successful application of analytical methods to faunal assemblages in order to develop a more detailed interpretation of the environmental aspects of a site.
    • Things worth telling: considering narrative storytelling in environmental archaeology

      Fitzpatrick, Alex; San Filippo, V. (2017-12)
      With the advent of the Internet, research has never been more accessible by others. As such, science communication has never been more important. In particular, environmental archaeology has often been at the mercy of successfully communicating a project’s importance to others. However, conventional archaeology papers may find difficulty in selling their research to the general public and to peers. In this paper, we propose that environmental archaeology projects may be able to benefit from adapting a narrative structure when publishing material. We argue that a narrative structure is not only more interesting and more accessible to non-specialists, but it may be more effective at illustrating the importance of a project to others. Because a narrative structure relies heavily on the development of empathy between the narrator and their audience in order to develop narrative drive, so too should an archaeology paper seek to engage with and motivate its readers. In order to explore this idea, we have identified key features of the structures for both a standard archaeology paper and a narrative story. An example environmental archaeology paper was written following the identified standard conventions to serve as our basis for this investigation, before being rewritten with a narrative structure. In examining these papers side by side, we will demonstrate the benefits of narrative in archaeology for public outreach, interdisciplinary communication, and research funding. By examining the conventions of the field from an outside perspective, we hope to provide tools with which environmental archaeology can strengthen its outreach. Narrative has proven itself as a vital communication tool, from which any willing archaeologist can benefit.
    • The World Wide reference collection: Zooarchaeological Twitter and the case for an international zooarchaeology database

      Fitzpatrick, Alex (2018-03)
      Social media platforms such as Twitter have allowed for a substantial increase in collaboration between academics, allowing access to information and advice from one side of the world to the other. This is especially true among both archaeologists and zooarchaeologists, who often turn to Twitter with faunal bones that they have been unable to identify so that another pair of zooarchaeological eyes can help. In many cases, Twitter has allowed access to reference collections that would have otherwise been inaccessible due to distance and monetary reasons. Based on numerous experiences in using the zooarchaeology community on Twitter to successfully identify archaeofaunal bones, this paper proposes that the next logical step for continuing collaboration among zooarchaeologists to is to develop an international digital database of faunal bone references, crowdsourced from reference collections of zooarchaeologists and institutions around the world. This database could bring zooarchaeology into the Open Access movement that will arguably define the future of archaeology in the digital world.