Ottawa Chapter's 2020 Virtual Lectures

Buried Underground: The Excavation and Re-Examination of Iron Age Activity
at Read's Cavern, Southwest England

Virtual Talk with Dr. Christopher Kerns and Allison Kerns

Cette présentation virtuelle du 17 décembre 2020 est disponible sur You Tube: 

Read's Cavern
The two presenters will discuss the results and conclusions from excavations they conducted at Read’s Cavern during April and May 2010. While the excavation revealed intact Iron Age deposits consistent with those reported by earlier 1920’s excavations, analysis of the material from the 2010 excavation has indicated a significantly more complex set of depositional practices than previously suggested. The cave will be placed in its broader Iron Age context in southwest England which includes activities in the Mendips and the Somerset levels as well as Britain and Western Europe more broadly. A more detailed understanding of the taphonomic processes raised questions regarding the original conclusions that Read’s Cavern was a site of habitation and domestic activity. The possible uses of the cave have been reconsidered through comparisons to activities taking place at other Iron Age sites around Britain, including other cave sites. The defining aspect of Read’s Cavern as a space is its lack of visibility, as both a feature in the landscape and as a place in which it was difficult to penetrate the darkness. Concepts of contamination and cleanliness may have had an important role in forming the intricately structured deposits within Read’s Cavern. Such an interpretation of the cave may also give insight into how people in the Iron Age viewed and understood the landscape around them. It may even give further insight into cosmological concepts and structures during the Iron Age outside the context of the cavern. The contextual aspects of the site combined with the new archaeological material recovered during the excavation has led to the proposal that the cavern may have been utilized to contain and/or negate profane objects and material within a changing and developing Iron Age cosmology.

Chris & Allison

Dr. Kerns is originally from Colorado. There he undertook a double major in Anthropology and History at the University of Colorado, Boulder graduating Cum Laude. He has completed two Master’s degrees, one from the University of Manchester in  Neolithic Archaeology and the other from the University of Bristol in Landscape Archaeology. He recently received his Doctorate from the University of Southampton. His doctoral research focused on the histories of archaeological inquiry into the Orcadian Neolithic since World War II. While at the University of Bristol directed excavations at the Iron Age cave site in the Mendip Hills south of Bristol, England known as Read’s Cavern. He has also participated in several excavations of Neolithic sites in England and Scotland including at Stonehenge and the Ness of Brodgar. . Dr. Kerns’s research interests go beyond disciplinary histories and include the transition to agricultural lifeways, prehistoric land-use patterns, mapping soil preservation characteristics, and the application of new technologies to archaeological investigations. He currently works for Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants as a Report Writer. 

Allison Kerns is originally from Toronto, Ontario. She started her archaeological career as a volunteer, and later staff member, at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She graduated from York University with a double major in Professional Writing and Anthropology. After initially working for the Ontario Heritage Trust as a field archaeologist Allison moved to England to pursue a master’s degree in Landscape Archaeology. The community support for the rescue excavation at the Newport Ship Project in Wales became the focus of her MA thesis. Much of her archaeological work since has focused on Iron Age and Roman sites, including as the Assistant director for the Read’s Cavern excavations. After Read’s cavern, Allison went on to work as the Education and Outreach officer on the Celts and Romans Project for Wessex Archaeology. In addition, Allison also worked at the Roman Baths Museum, part of the Bath World Heritage Site, where she worked as a visitor assistant providing tours. After moving to the USA in 2013, Allison worked for the Geological Society of America as the Education and Outreach Coordinator, where she managed the GeoCorps America program. She currently works for the Chemical Institute of Canada as the Communications Coordinator. Allison is passionate about bridging the gap between professional archaeology and the public, and getting interested people beyond museums and onto sites.

The geologic sources of
raw materials for stone tools  and
the reconstruction of territories and interactions between groups in Eastern Canada
Virtual Talk with Adrian L. Burke
Professor of archaeology, Département d’anthropologie, Université de Montréal

Cette présentation virtuelle du 17 septembre 2020 est disponible sur You Tube:  :

Archaeologists regularly find stone tools and flakes on their sites that are made of materials that are not immediately available around the site.  Where do these materials come from and how did they get to the site?  In this presentation I will explain how archaeologists use geologic information, as well as analytical techniques such as petrography and geochemistry, to accurately identify the geographic and geologic origin of a rock used to make a stone tool.  Examples will be presented from my research over the past 25 years in Eastern Canada and northeastern United States.  These rocks can tell us much about the territory that a group of hunter-fisher-gatherers might have exploited during a yearly round for example.  They can also tell us a lot about how a community exchanged raw materials and tools with their neighbours which in turn allows us to reconstruct past social networks in northeastern North America.

Adrian L. BurkeAdrian L. Burke is professor of archaeology at Université de Montréal. He specializes in the pre-contact archaeology of northeastern North America. His research focuses primarily on lithic technology and more specifically on the raw materials used to make stone tools. He has spent the past 25 years studying the quarries where people extracted the rocks to make stone tools and how these materials were exchanged among Indigenous groups in the past. His most recent fieldwork has been on l’île Saint-Bernard (Châteauguay) where he directed a fieldschool on a site with occupations dating from the Archaic period to the 19th century. He has worked over the past five years on the training in the field of Indigenous archaeologists.


Viking Ale and the Story of Hops
Virtual Zoom talk with Travis Rupp

Cette présentation virtuelle du 15 octobre 2020 est disponible sur You Tube: 

This lecture will explore the development of ale and alcohol in Norse culture. Colloquially known as Vikings, these peoples of the North spread their culture far and wide from Turkey to Canada. In this presentation, Rupp will examine how archaeology yields evidence of beer production in multiple regions of Viking activity. From Istanbul to York and Iceland to L’Anse Aux Meadows, the Vikings played a major role in connecting the culinary cultures of the East and West. Their journeys far and wide may even be responsible for the ultimate use of hops in beer and brewing.

AgingTravis Rupp is the Innovation and Wood Cellar Manager at Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado where he has worked for over 8 years and is responsible for Avery’s beer invention, innovation, and barrel-aging programs. He holds the title of Beer Archaeologist at Avery as well and launched the Ales of Antiquity series in 2016. He is also a full-time lecturer of Classics, Art History, History, Anthropology, and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has been teaching all things Egyptian, Roman, and Greek since 2010. Travis is writing books on the beginnings of beer in the ancient Mediterranean, brewing in the early monastic tradition, and brewing during America’s Revolutionary War. Recently his travels and research abroad have focused on monastic brewing in Italy from 400-900 CE, Swedish brewing in the 17th century, early Colonial Brewing throughout New England and Virginia, and brewing in Roman Britain. He has been featured on CNN’s “Great Big Story”, CBS This Morning, NPR, and in Food and Wine, Zymurgy, and Thirst magazines.

Dating Iroquoia: Radiocarbon chronology building and relational histories of coalescence
and conflict among Huron-Wendat ancestors in southern Ontario

Virtual Zoom talk with Dr. Jennifer Birch, University of Georgia

Cette présentation virtuelle du 19 novembre 2020 est disponible sur You Tube:

Chronologies fundamentally underpin all other aspects of archaeological thought. When our time frames shift, so to do the chains of inference that underpin our models and narratives. This talk will detail the results to date of the Dating Iroquoia project. It will review some of the most significant implications of  our revised radiocarbon chronology for understanding processes of Iroquoian cultural development, including the timing of coalescence and conflict, the onset of historical enmity between the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee, and the processes through which European goods were transmitted, received, or rejected by Iroquoian communities in Ontario and New York State. The results of this project demonstrate not only the utility of AMS dating and Bayesian chronological modelling for refining archaeological chronologies, but also for centering Indigenous agency in relational histories of societal development and change in North American archaeology.

Iroquois VillageJennifer Birch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia.
Her research interests are concerned with the development of organizational complexity and diversity, particularly among the Indigenous societies of eastern North America. She approaches these topics through multi-scalar research designs focused on reconstructing the archaeological histories of communities and regions.

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