Ice Age Island Winter Update

A few of the team have returned to Jersey this winter to do further re-organisation and analysis of the artefact collections in the Jersey Heritage Stores. The Ice Age Island project is not restricted to the sunny climes of our summer excavation season and an incredible amount of work goes on behind the scenes, often meticulous and detailed.

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Fig. 1 – The team at work in the stores

There are two basic parts to the project that we are doing now; primarily we are separating artefacts excavated from La Cotte de St. Brelade in the 1970s into individual bags. This keeps the artefacts safe and allows us to pinpoint their exact position within the sediments of the site. In turn we can then draw inference from how the artefacts are related to each other spatially and within the sequence.

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Fig 2. Organising the lithics

For example the types of stone tools or fragments, in association with each other and the bone heaps from La Cotte, could shed light on Neanderthal behaviour in the Ice Age both in Jersey and the wider Channel environment. This has all been an on-going effort for the past two years, with a massive volunteer contribution from both Jersey residents and team members.

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Fig. 3 – Artefacts and the bagging process

As you can see from the photos it is a methodical process of labelling the artefact bags, putting the specific lithics in their respective bags and then into a box of other tools found within a 1 metre squared of it.

On the other side of things Dr Andy Shaw has begun to analyse material that has already been split up and organised. He is looking at the shape, raw material (e.g. flint) and size of the artefacts. This work is really interesting and has set in motion the creation of data from which we hope to be able to unravel the complex Neanderthal occupation on Jersey.

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 Fig. 4 – Freya!

In other news we have acquired mammoth themed Playmobil and ALL the biscuits, which totally provides a respite from deep thought!

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