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GIA Newsletter Winter 2015-2016

A word from the Director

Archaeological field projects nowadays are for the larger part dependent on external funding. While the GIA is able to furnish the basic funding for continuation of research activities and dissemination thereof out of the annual budget allocated by the Faculty, GIA researchers have to find budgets for their more ambitious research initiatives elsewhere. Fortunately, GIA researchers are good at this. Below the Awards and Grants section we note a Gerda Henkel Research grant for a 2-year post-doc for the Greek Archaeology research group and a grant of €8000 for the Arctic research group. Not mentioned is the subsidy of Provinciale Staten for continuation of Gilles de Langen’s  position as professor by special appointment at the GIA for Terp Archaeology. His term has been extended with another five years!  Congratulations Gilles (and GIA). Another piece of good news is the participation of Gijs Tol in the Marzuolo Archaeological Project with the universities of Arkansas and Cambridge. This project will however travel with Gijs to Melbourne, where he has been appointed as lecturer on a permanent position in Archaeology as of July 2016. I wish Gijs and Tanja, who will finish her PhD in Melbourne, all the best and am sure that this will develop in a fruitful Groningen-Melbourne connection!
Various field activities took place recently. Artefact surveys were carried out around the Bronze Age palace of Ayios Vasilios in Greece, while geophysical surveys have been performed on a salt working site in Etruria and at the ancient Latin site of Crustumerium to mention only a few of the field activities carried out since the summer.
To conclude this brief introduction, I would like to mention the publication of the  Firdgum turf house (see below book presentation by Daniel Postma and below ‘Turf house reconstruction reopened’) as a ‘valorisation product’ in which scientific interest and public outreach meet. In Italian one would say “Complimenti”.
Sarah Willemsen, who edits this Newsletter, and I welcome contributions to this newsletter as I am aware that what you read here is only a small sample of all ‘archaeological stuff’ GIA staff and students are involved in. Please submit!

Visiting scholar

Manuela Ritondale

From January to April 2016 the GIA hosts guest researcher Manuela Ritondale, who is a PhD candidate in Management and Development of Cultural Heritage at the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies in Lucca (northern Italy). She will mainly work with Martijn van Leusen on GIS applications and predictive modelling for maritime archaeological risk assessment in a Mediterranean context, but will certainly also be regularly seen in the company of our own maritime specialists, André van Holk and Yftinus van Popta.
Manuela graduated in underwater archaeology at the University of Tuscany (Viterbo) and in the history of antiquity at the “La Sapienza” University in Rome. She acquired skills in computational archaeology by attending the "Italian School of Virtual Archaeology" and the "Advanced School of Computer Graphics and Cultural Heritage", organized by CNR and CINECA respectively, within the FP7-funded Network of Excellence V-MUST.NET.
Manuela is currently working on her PhD thesis on the application of digital technologies and computer-simulation for the analysis of the maritime trade system during the Roman period, and for her stay in Groningen is focusing on the building of an archaeological risk map of the western Mediterranean Sea. She has already been invited to take part in the informal meetings of the ‘GIA PhD writing support group’ and is looking forward to learn more about social life in the Netherlands! You will find her in the ‘Mediterranean’ room in our old library…

New Publications

Book on early medieval vernacular architecture

On Friday 6th November 2015 Daniël Postma presented his book ‘Het zodenhuis van Firdgum – Middeleeuwse boerderijbouw in het Friese kustgebied tussen 400 en 1300’. The book focusses on the typology and design of early medieval turf houses in the terp region and includes a detailed report on the reconstruction of two of such houses in the Frisian village of Firdgum. In order to place this previously ill-understood type of building into a greater chronological and geographical context, Postma compares the turf houses to the closely related ‘timber’ buildings known from other periods and regions. Through this approach a new series of reconstruction models is set up, presenting an entirely new perspective on the architectural development of rural architecture in the northern Netherlands.

An important discovery which is presented in this book for the first time, is that the early medieval farm buildings were primarily built with an arch-shaped timber structure, rather than the angular trusses known from later historical periods. The book offers recommendations for future archaeological settlement research and the role experimental archaeology can play in this. Regarding the latter it is suggested that future archaeological reconstructions are set up in such a way that they may benefit the development of archaeologically inspired forms of modern sustainable building.

The turf house book was edited by prof. Gilles de Langen and photography and layout were conducted by Frans de Vries from Toonbeeld. The book is richly illustrated and written in a highly accessible style, as it is aimed at the general public. ‘Het zodenhuis van Firdgum’ is the first publication from GIA’s Terp Research Group, is published through Barkhuis Publishing in Eelde and costs only € 24,95.

Cover of ‘Het zodenhuis van Firdgum’

Mesolithic paper published in international conference proceedings

A paper written by Liz Lawton-Matthews has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in the proceedings of the MUGE150 conference. The paper, entitled ‘Pits in the Irish Mesolithic’, concerned the results of her Master's research and was co-authored with her supervisor from University College Dublin, Dr Graeme Warren.

Awards and grants

Gerda Henkel Research Grant for Ayios Vasilios Survey Project

Sofia Voutsaki and Corien Wiersma have been awarded a Gerda Henkel Research Grant for the Ayios Vasilios Survey Project. The Gerda Henkel Foundation will fund the geophysical prospections of the Ayios Vasilios hill by means of a two-year, full-time post-doctoral research position for a geophysicist specializing in the Mediterranean world. The position will be filled in 2016, and the research will start in autumn 2016.

SEES archaeologists receive grant from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund

During the SEES expedition to Edgeøya in August 2015 (, the GIA archaeologists Frigga Kruse and Sarah Dresscher and archaeology student Marthe Koeweiden investigated two Pomor sites. The Pomors were Russian walrus hunters from the White Sea region who visited the Arctic archipelago during the 18th and 19th century. At Dolerittneset and Kraussbukta, the team and their volunteers collected more than 700 soil samples to be tested for phosphate. Kruse and Dresscher think that the distribution of phosphate around the sites may provide information about Pomor activities such as animal slaughter and processing.
         After the expedition had returned from Edgeøya, Kruse applied for funding to the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund. Her application was successful (project no. 15/73), and the project now receives about 8000 Euro. The phosphate analysis is scheduled for the beginning of 2016.
The soil sampling was done with the help of volunteers.

Marzuolo Archaeological Project obtains SPARC-grant

The recently initiated ‘Marzuolo Archaeological Project’, an international project directed by researchers from the Universities of Arkansas (Dr. Rhodora Vennarucci), Cambridge (Dr. Astrid van Oyen) and Groningen (Gijs Tol) obtained a SPARC-grant of $ 25.000 from the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST). This grant allows the project to work with SPARC researchers in the implementation of a digital recording system for the excavations at Marzuolo, a rural production site located in Tuscany, Italy. Through pre-fieldwork and on-site collaboration, the team at Marzuolo will establish a method for creating detailed georeferenced 3D models of the site’s stratigraphy. This accurate and thorough spatial recording will aid the investigation of the spatial organization of the site and its production activities, particularly those linked to the experimental and later standardized production of Terra Sigillata Italica pottery.
Assemblage of Terra Sigillata from the site of Marzuolo.


Turf house reconstruction reopened

The early medieval turf house in Firdgum was officially opened on Friday 6 November 2015, by deputy Kramer of the province of Fryslân. This archaeological reconstruction replaces the building that partially collapsed in 2013 due to leakage of the roof. Thanks to the work of many volunteers, the new building could be constructed in second half of 2014. The thatching was carried out in October 2015.
The turf house, which represents an early 8th Century AD byre, measures 4.5x15 metres on the inside and has a 1 metre thick wall made entirely of clay-rich salt marsh turves (kwelderzoden). In one part of the building the turf wall was made load-bearing, as was customary in the terp region in the first centuries of the Early Middle Ages. As an archaeological experiment the reconstruction project aimed to test how such strong turf walls were built. Moreover, the latest reconstruction is the first in the Netherlands with an arch-shaped roof construction, which is clearly distinguishable from the rectangular trusses of existing historic farmhouses.
The experiment was led by the University of Groningen Terp Research Group, chaired by Prof. Gilles de Langen. The project is part of the PhD research carried out by Daniël Postma on building traditions in the coastal area of the Northern Netherlands. The fieldwork was coordinated by archaeology student Trijneke Sibma and former GIA student Johan van Gent. Johan also made a timelapse which shows the build of the entire turf house in a few minutes (see below). The turf house now forms part of the archaeological heritage centre (archeologisch steunpunt) of the Yeb Hettinga Museum in Firdgum and is opened to the public.
The newly reconstructed turf-walled byre in Firdgum, province of Friesland (photo: Frans de Vries, Toonbeeld).
Timelaps of the build of the turf house (made by Johan van Gent).

Pilot survey at Ayios Vasilios

Corien Wiersma has carried out a pilot survey at Ayios Vasilios under direction of Adamantia Vasilogamvrou and Sofia Voutsaki. Various GIA-students, including several international students, participated. The intensive survey covered an area of 4.3 ha at and around the palatial settlement. Outreach activities consisted of a public lecture on the Ayios Vasilios Project at the neighbouring town of Xirokambi. In addition, local school kids also visited the site and helped to survey a grid square.
Students surveying near the Chapel of Ayios Vasilios
Prof. Sofia Voutsaki teaching the local schoolkids all about archaeology

Geophysical prospections at a late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age salt working site and 3-D geomodellling at Crustumerium

In a “Blitz” campaign last November of hardly two days, Burkhart Ullrich of the company of Eastern Atlas (Berlin) with GIA’s Nikolaas Noorda, Wieke de Neef and Peter Attema mapped part of a salt working site on an inland lagoon near the northern Etruscan coast. The aim to obtain a geomagnetic base map for planning further excavation of this site was successful. Various interesting features were discovered that merit further, now invasive, research. The work was carried out within the framework of the PhD research of Maria Rosaria Cinquegrana (who still enjoyed her maternal leave then, though working on the pottery from this site). Next the team moved to the Iron Age settlement of Crustumerium near Rome  to carry out a 3D geo-modelling project of a complex stratigraphy constituted by a meters high artificial mound covering Iron Age tombs and supposedly built on top of an Iron Age defensive moat. This project was carried out in collaboration with the Italian company GeoRes from Rome and co-financed by the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome. The GIA team is eagerly awaiting the results as it may solve an important stratigraphic riddle without excavation!
Geophysicist Burkart Ullrich and GIA Master student Nikolaas Noorda conduct a radar survey at Crustumerium, October 2015.
Geophysicist Burkart Ullrich monitors the progress of electrical resistivity measurements (foreground), while GIA-Master student Nikolaas Noorda records electrode positions using DGPS (middle distance); Crustumerium, October 2015.

GIA in the News

Sofia Voutsaki interviewed by To Lychnari

Sofia Voutsaki has been interviewed by Paulien de Roever for the Dutch Journal To Lychnari which publishes on Greek culture, literature and history.

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