Sunday, 17 November 2013

Experimental Archaeology at the National Museum !

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Experimental archaeology at the NMIExperimental archaeology at the NMIExperimental archaeology at the NMI

Today members of the UCD experimental groups were in the National Museum of Ireland demonstrating a range of different projects. The visitors were treated with a demonstration of flint-knapping and shown a variety of stone tools from small scrappers to stone axes. These tools are a clear testimony to the skill of the UCD knappers as they are extremely similar to those found on archaeological sites. John "Tipper" Murphy, Nial Inwood, Bernard Gilhooly and Mark Powers were very engaged with the visitors and should be proud of the amazing flint tools they have created.

For visitors with a interest in ceramics John Mulrooney Wayne Malone and Cian Corrigan were on hand to to demonstrate a selection of replica prehistoric pots. Their enthusiasm shined through as they explained to visitors how they created their pots using authentic techniques and materials. Younger visitors had the opportunity to get their hands dirty by creating their very own pots. Many children jumped at this opportunity and could even give some of the UCD potters a run for their money.

Brendan O'Neil showed visitors how he created replica bronze axes. He explained how the metal ores were identified by the different coloured stones. The metal is extracted from the ores and placed into different moulds made of stone or ceramics lined with wax. He explained to the visitors the two technological advances in the Bronze Age from simple flat/open moulds to more advanced two piece/ bivalve moulds and three piece moulds. The finished axe is then polished and sharpened to create a functioning tool

Visitors with an interest in bog bodies were presented with the fantastic experimental project by Katie-Rose Dunne. Her project aimed to investigate if she could recreate a bog body. Using pigs trotters she placed them in a bog and recorded their preservation. Visitors were shown the remains of a pig trotter that had been in a bog for nine months and which was displayed in a jar filled with formaldehyde. Katie-Rose presented her project with a well-designed power point including a video showing the fun side to collecting her specimens from the bog.

Bernard Gilhooly conducted a slideshow demonstrating the construction of the Mesolithic house. To put the project in context Bernard began by explaining the site of Mount Sandel which the house was based upon. The different stages of the houses construction were explained from sourcing raw materials to covering the structure with a sod. The visitors were shown a video about the house construction created by IDAT students. The visitors seemed extremely interested in the project, had many questions and were keen to see the project repeated to see if a different design may allow the structure to last longer.

Overall the day seemed to be a huge success and everyone should be very proud. The students' enthusiasm and quality of work was clearly evident. Their interesting projects left the visitors with an introduction into what experimental archaeology can teach us and allowed them an opportunity to be hands on with replica artefacts.

By Katherine McCormack

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