Abstract deadline extended for the 40th AEA Conference

We have had an amazing range of presentations submitted to the 40th AEA Conference. Just in case a few of you have just missed the deadline, however, we have decided to make a short extension for abstract submissions.

You now have until Noon, Wednesday 10th July to submit your abstracts.

We would love to have your contributions to the conference, including poster presentations. So don’t delay!

Abstracts can be submitted through our online form, with further details on our website: www.sheffield.ac.uk/archaeology/events/aea40. And whether you intend to present or not, don’t forget to register for the conference.

– The AEA40 Organising Committee

Registration Open for AEA Spring Conference in Cork

Click here to register online via Eventbrite.

Short List for #ScientistsandSamples photo competition – VOTE NOW


We asked for your stunning photos of scientists and samples and you delivered! It could have been something as simple as sampling in action, processing and sorting a sample or analysing a sample; or it could be a more imaginative take on the title. We also wanted to see the people as well as the samples or sampling in process. Here is the shortlist of the top five entrants, keep an eye out on our Twitter and Facebook feeds for your chance to vote for your favourite, or simply email your top three choices to envarch@envarch.net.

Prizes: 1st Prize – £50; 2nd Prize – £30 and 3rd Prize – £20.

Closing date for your votes: 15th March 2019

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Cast your vote by emailing envarch@envarch.net with your top three choices

Keep an eye out for further information on our social media: Twitter and Facebook

Abstract Deadline Extended – 39th AEA Conference

The abstract deadline for the 39th Conference of the Association for Environmental Archaeology has been extended to 26th September 2018.

Find out about the conference, register and submit your abstract at http://conferences.au.dk/aea2018/.

Photo competition #ScientistsandSamples

Have you got a stunning photo of a scientist and a sample?

It could be something as simple as sampling in action, processing and sorting a sample or analysing a sample; or it could be a more imaginative take on the title. We want to see people as well as the samples/sampling. When you’ve chosen your photo/s, then submit them to the Association for Environmental Archaeology photo competition!

The top 12 photos will be chosen by the Association for Environmental Archaeology (AEA) committee, these will then go out to a public vote, with the winner being announced at the 39th Association for Environmental Archaeology Conference hosted at Moesgaard Museum (MOMU) and Aarhus University ‘Moesgaard Campus’ in Denmark on 29th November to 1st December 2018. The competition is only open to members of the AEA.


Enter the competition here!

Prizes: 1st Prize – £50; 2nd Prize – £30 and 3rd Prize – £20.


Biomarker of the Anthropocene – the results are in!

As part of Science Week 2018, the Association for Environmental Archaeology asked what is the best Biomarker of the Anthropocene?

The winner of the popular vote was wheat, followed closely by the broiler chicken. Dung fungi came third and dung beetles in fourth position. We hope you enjoyed the discussions. Environmental archaeologists have lots to contribute to the debate concerning the Anthropocene, as has been demonstrated by these discussions.

The AEA Committee would like to thank everyone who took part, in particular our proposers.

You can still listen/view the mini-podcasts on our YouTube channel and SoundCloud page.

AEA Pests of Society: Outline Programme

The outline programme for the upcoming AAE spring conference Pests of Society, to be held at the University of Birmingham on 21st April 2018, has just been released. You can find out more about the conference on our events pages and view the programme here. We look forward to welcoming you to the conference next month!

What is the best Biomarker of the Anthropocene? Vote now!

As part of Science Week 2018, the Association for Environmental Archaeology is asking you to choose your favourite Biomarker of the Anthropocene.

In two-minute mini-podcasts, leading environmental archaeologists present the case for their favourite Anthropocene biomarker. See if you agree with them and then vote for one of them over on the Twitter poll pinned to the @EnvArch profile page.

Watch the podcasts on YouTube

Listen to the podcasts on Soundcloud

Vote on Twitter!


Booking now open for Pest of Society conference

Booking is now open for this year’s AEA Spring Conference at the University of Birmingham, 21st-22nd April 2018.

For more about the conference and to book head over to the Events section.

Desert zooarchaeology at Saruq al-Hadid – James Roberts

James Roberts (University of New England, Armidale) discusses his exciting research with the Saruq al-Hadid Archaeological Research Project:

Three years ago I was given the opportunity to head to a site in the United Arab Emirates to look at some animal bone. Along with my supervisor at the time, Professor Naomi Sykes, I found myself heading into the desert to the site of Saruq al-Hadid.


Saruq al-Hadid location

Excavations have been undertaken at the site since the early 2000s focusing mainly on the Early Iron Age (1300-800 BC locally) evidence for metal working. However, a survey undertaken in the mid-2000s identified a significant amount of archaeological remains in stratigraphic layers below this metal working debris. Upon commencing excavations at the site in 2015, the Saruq al-Hadid Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) focused on understanding the site’s stratigraphy.  Working alongside the local Dubai Municipality government the SHARP team were able to identify five broad archaeological horizons at the site, the earliest of which has been dated back to c.2200 BC, the Early Bronze Age in the region.

Compound at Saruq al-Hadid. © Qutaiba Dasouqi

The extensive excavations at the site undertaken by SHARP, over the course of three 4-5 month field seasons, found 1400 years’ worth of occupation at the site dating from 2200 BC – 800 BC. Currently defined as a ‘temporary, persistent place’, it appears that the site was never permanently occupied but rather frequented by human populations, perhaps on a seasonal basis. The excavations unearthed a wealth of material; from dozens of weapons and other metallic objects, to ornate jewellery and ceramics. A particularly notable competent of this material culture is the frequent occurrence of iconographic snake representations, primarily in copper and ceramic form. These representations tie into the wider regional phenomenon of snake depictions being found on objects excavated from multiple contemporary sites. Provisionally dubbed the ‘Snake Cult’, this phenomenon is yet to be fully explored.  Alongside these enigmatic artefacts approximately 1.5 tonnes of faunal remains were recovered from the site, with animal bone being one of the few materials that has been recovered from the site’s entire occupation history. This means that zooarchaeological studies have a great potential to inform on the multiple uses of the site through time.

Over the course of the eleven months I spent on site, I was able to record data from about two-thirds of this material. This analysis sheds new light on human behaviour at the site and in the wider region. From previously un-evidenced interactions between humans and wild animals in the region in the past to new information regarding the timing of camel domestication, the study of these remains has proved to be incredibly rewarding. By combining these results with the findings of the project’s archaeobotanist, we have also identified fairly compelling evidence that the arid environment of Saruq al-Hadid is somewhat different today to how it was 4000 years ago.

© James Roberts

All of these major findings will be written up into five main papers, as part of the PhD by publication that I am currently halfway through. There are many other ongoing studies into these faunal remains, many of which are collaborative with the other material studies being undertaken at the site; for instance, the analysis of blood residues on microliths from the bone midden, in order investigate the potential role of a microlithic tradition in hunting practices at Saruq al-Hadid during the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1500 BC).

Looking to the future, the site is still undergoing excavation and literal tonnes of recovered faunal remains are waiting to be analysed. Additionally a large portion of the known site is yet to be excavated and there is likely archaeology hidden under the sand throughout the surrounding area. Working on the remains from this site has truly demonstrated to me the valuable insights that the study of animal bone can give and its potential to be combined with other material studies. Who knows what new insights into humanity this site will provide in the years to come!

Sunset at Saruq. © SHARP-UNE

For More information on the site and the zooarchaeological studies, see: