Postgraduate Research Archaeology Symposium

PGRAS 2014

Reflecting on PGRAS 2014

June 4, 2014
by Helen Chittock

The last two weeks have given us all time to reflect on PGRAS 2014 and what we were able to take away from the symposium.

We kicked off on Thursday 22nd May with a session entitled ‘Thinking and Doing in Archaeology’, which was concerned with looking in detail at the methodological and theoretical constructs that Southampton PGRs are making use of in their research. A really diverse range of thought-provoking topics were presented, ranging from art to emotion, which gave rise to some stimulating discussion and set the tone for the rest of the symposium.

That day, we went on to hear papers on ‘Exchange and Contact on the Fringes of the Mediterranean’ and, despite some technical issues, we were able to connect with students from far flung corners of the world and hear their presentations via Skype – appropriate given the theme of the session, which focused on communication and interaction. Day one finished with a session on ‘Museums, Heritage Management and Public Engagement’, where we heard about the fantastic work our PGRs are doing within the vital sphere of connecting academia to the wider world and making archaeology relevant to everyone. Following a successful first day of papers and discussion we headed to the Crown Inn for some well-earned pints and relaxation.

Day two began with a session on ‘Settlements, Migration and Social Landscapes’, which covered a diverse range of archaeological periods and geographical locations, from Mesolithic Britain to Late Postclassic Mexico. Following this was a session on ‘The Archaeologies of Technological Innovation’. Students from CAHO gave the first group of papers, focusing on lithic technology, while the second half of the session comprised students from the CMA, talking about some of the complex technologies involved with seafaring, and its related activities happening on dry land. The afternoon began with talks on ‘New Approaches in Computational Archaeology’, where we were able to see the fruitful results of Southampton Archaeology Department’s engagement with computing technology. The final papers of the day were on another of Southampton’s strengths, osteology, and made up the ‘Old Bones, New Stories’ session.

Following this we handed out prizes for this year’s photo competition, logo competition and archaeology buzzword bingo, after which we were treated to an excellent keynote speech by Dr Alistair Pike, who enlightened us on his research in the field of isotopic analysis. While his paper focused partly on the technicalities of ‘doing isotopes’, as he put it, he also spoke about using these techniques to bring us closer to the lives of individuals in the past and to ‘give life back’ to those individuals. This potent message rounded off the symposium perfectly, summing up what many of us are attempting to do on a day-to-day basis and giving us all food for thought.

With that we proceeded to the atrium of the Archaeology Department for a fabulous drinks reception and it’s safe to say, I think, that a good time was had by all, courtesy of a monumental amount of ale!

All that’s left to say is that the committee would like to sincerely thank all the speakers, chairs, competition entrants and everyone who contributed to the running of the cake stall and book stall and who donated to both. We’re pleased to say that between these stalls we raised an amazing £430.87 for Naomi House Children’s Hospice, and that this amount will be added to during the upcoming Buildings and the Body Symposium on the 27th-28th June.

Thank you everyone for a fabulous two days, see you next year!

PGRAS 2014: The Preparations Begin!

February 11, 2014
by Charlotte Dixon

Greetings from the 2014 PGR Archaeology Symposium committee! The dates for this year’s symposium are the 22nd-23rd May and we’re looking forward to making it as much of a success as last year’s event.