martes, 30 de julio de 2013

Experimental archaeologists complete Mesolithic hut (Ireland)

Archaeologists from University College Dublin have built a replica of a Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age house on the Belfield campus to better understand the process of creation and decay of this type of dwelling.

Based on archaeological evidence

The circular teepee like structure is based on archaeological evidence from a site at Mount Sandel in Northern Ireland dating from 7900-7600BCE. This site is still the earliest known evidence of human settlement on Ireland and consists of a structure that is six-metres in diameter
Ireland was one of the last places in Northern Europe to be settled by humans during the Mesolithic and until the 1970s, archaeological evidence of Mesolithic activity consisted only of weathered flint tools found along the north-eastern coast. Therefore, it was believed that there was no occupation in the interior of the country.
However, excavation of the Mount Sandel site which began in 1973, and the subsequent discovery of other settlements throughout Ireland, would radically alter that perspective.

Raising important questions

The reconstructed house has been built from birch posts, which form an apex, with willow or hazel woven between them. Turf is laid against the framework and then thatched with grass.
The team believe the remains of structures like this, which can be found across Europe, raise many important questions about the true nature of Mesolithic people, who are thought of as nomadic.
“For example – structures like this are generally interpreted as houses, and they are often reconstructed repeatedly on the same location over the span of 100-150 years” explains Dr Graeme Warren, UCD School of Archaeology.

Understanding the past

“Our reconstruction of this Mesolithic house is part of the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology,” says Warren
The Mesolithic house is located on a site on the UCD Belfield campus set aside for Experimental Archaeology. “Through experimental archaeology we are working to better understand the past by engaging materially with the sorts of things that people did in the past.”
“At this location we have completed stone working, flint tool production, we’ve made stone axes and fired pottery, and now we’ve built this Mesolithic house.”
The structure will be left to decay so archaeologists can estimate how long this type of building lasted before early settlers decided to rebuild or move on.
According to Dr Warren, this type of experimental archaeological work is important because it provides scientific information about the material worlds in which people lived in the past – information which isn’t available from the surviving archaeological evidence alone.

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