IHP-EFEO Young Scholars Workshop in Archaeology
PhD, University of Otago / Taiwan Fellowship Scholar
Nicholas Hogg is a Taiwan Fellowship Scholar at the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica. His work focuses on the earliest Austronesian-speaking populations to enter the western Pacific, known as the Lapita peoples, and the adaptations and associated social and cultural mechanisms that enabled these populations to settle in the region. Nicholas’ most recent research involved the study of the form, decoration and motifs of Lapita pottery from sites in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. His other research interests include radiocarbon dating, calibration, and sourcing studies. Nicholas was awarded his doctorate at the University of Otago earlier this year.
From pottery to people: Insights into the beginning of the Lapita Cultural Complex in the Bismarck Archipelago from the perspective of the ceramic record
The arrival of the “Lapita peoples” ca. 3300 years ago signals an abrupt change in the 50,000-year archaeological record of Papua New Guinea. Marked by a heavy coastal focus for settlement, the use of a unique range of portable items of material culture, and the movement of material and people through expansive interaction networks, the Lapita populations represent a significant deviation from what had come before. Despite the significant impact of these populations on the trajectory of the prehistory of the region, their arrival into the Bismarck Archipelago is only chronicled by thirteen currently known sites. This paper will contribute to the study of these early populations by presenting the results of formal, decorative and motif analyses on pottery, alongside new radiocarbon determinations, from four sites, including Adwe (FOH), Tamuarawai (EQS), Talepakemalai (ECA), and Kamgot (ERA), located in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. The results from these analyses are used to further our understanding of the timing of the first arrival of these populations in the western Pacific, elucidate the cultural backgrounds of the populations involved, and model the social connections they established and maintained with communities around the region.
Postdoctoral researcher, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica
After a Master’s degree in Archaeological Sciences, I have received a PhD in Archaeology from the Paris Nanterre University under the supervision of Philippe Dillmann and T. Oliver Pryce. During my doctoral research, I specialized on the archaeology of Late Prehistoric Southeast Asia, and more precisely on copper-based technologies and exchanges. I apply techniques and analyses from the field of archaeological science to ancient copper-based artefacts (slags, crucibles, ores, finished artefacts) in order to characterize the production techniques and their exchanges in Southeast Asia. The data obtained from such analysis of ancient copper technologies ultimately aim to elucidate the interactions between different ancient populations in the region and the role played by ancient copper technologies.
Technologies and ancient copper exchange networks in Southeast Asia: Case study of the Vilabouly Complex (Laos)
Evolving from purely ‘origins’-based research, significant advances have been made in our understanding of early Southeast Asian copper metallurgy in the last decade, partly through new excavations of metal production sites, and partly through the application of established provenance methodologies to assemblages covering almost two millennia. Lead isotope analyses in the region have demonstrated the complexity and plurality of the exchange networks in Southeast Asia at the end of the Prehistoric period. But some regions are still lacking known and studied archaeological sites needed to complete the map of ancient copper metallurgy. The ancient copper mining and smelting sites at the Vilabouly Complex (VC, formerly known as Sepon) in Savannakhet Province, Central Laos, have been excavated by a Lao-Australian team since 2008. The VC, with a radiocarbon sequence from the early Bronze Age (c. 1000 BC) to the late Iron Age/beginning of the Historical Period (c. 700 AD), is one of only three prehistoric copper production sites currently physically identified in Southeast Asia, the other two being in Thailand. The VC lead isotope signature has been identified in copper exchange networks across Southeast Asia, involving metal consumers in Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. This presentation on the archaeometric studies of the Vilabouly Complex production will illustrate how the technologies involved for the production of copper have been reconstructed and help to better place Laos on the map of Southeast Asian exchanges during the late prehistoric period.
Che-Hsien Evin Tsai 蔡哲嫻
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University
I studied archaeology and classics at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sheffield, obtaining my PhD from the University of Sheffield in 2021. My doctoral research involved the interdisciplinary examination of Early Bronze Age ceramic production, exchange and consumption at Konopigado, Attica in Greece. I conduct a diachronic study of change and continuity in pottery technology by multiple analytical techniques including thin section petrography, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD). During this time, I participated in several projects in Greece, Britain, the Pacific islands and China and I also received laboratory training at the National Centre for Scientific Research ‘Demokritos’ in Athens, Greece and the University of Barcelona, Spain. In 2022, I have been an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University. My research interests focus on prehistoric archaeology, specifically issues surrounding ancient technology and craft practice, complexity and social interaction in the Mediterranean. The Aegean Sea region (particularly the Bronze Age) is a major focus of my research and teaching. Other areas of interest encompass archaeological science, Near Eastern archaeology, classical art and archaeology. I have done fieldwork in Britain and Greece.
Regionalism and internationalism in Early Bronze Age Attica: Beyond pottery typology
The traditional chronological and cultural framework of the Greek mainland and the Cyclades has a significant impact on the study on Early Bronze Age Attica (early 3rd millennium BC). The previous research essentially identified two major cultural horizons based on the 'Helladic' settlement context in the Greek mainland and the 'Cycladic' burialcontext in the islands. Such bias in research raises some difficulties in the identification of the mixed Helladic and Cycladic cultural characters of the Attic communities. In addition, the prehistoric Attica has been underestimated for a long time, being seen as a peripheral area towards the southern mainland that plays a passive role in the Aegean network. The new ceramic assemblages from a rescue excavation at Kontopigado, Alimos in west Attica provide an opportunity to reconstruct the nature of the Attic settlements. The site reveals two successive phases, Early Bronze I and II along with evidence of metallurgy, obsidian working and pottery production that greatly enhance our understanding of the previously sparse information on the Early Bronze Age in Attica as a whole. In addition, the variety and richness of pottery deposits at Kontopigado may suggest the intensive communication between west Attican and the Aegean. Through the typological characterisation and thin section petrography of Kontopigado assemblage, combined with previous literature, this work carries out an investigation of pottery production and exchange between local communities and the Aegean world to elucidate the cultural connotation and distinct character of the Attica peninsula and to compare the differences between Attica and the other two cultural horizons.
Yi-Ting Hsu 徐苡庭
PhD candidate, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge
My research focuses on using archaeometric methods to study material cultures and technology in the past in order to investigate the movement of people, materials and knowledge. My current PhD project is to study how small-scale cupellation (silver extraction) was implemented in mines and mint from the Late Medieval to Early Modern Europe, in order to investigate the dissemination and the transfer of technical knowledge in a time when open access to information and modern chemistry was in its infancy. The project is in collaboration with multiple institutes in the Czech Republic, Norway and France. I have also participated in projects related to the technology and production of glass and glaze in the Near East.
Medieval silver assaying: An experimental approach
Fire assay is a small-scale metallurgical and chemical process aimed at determining the presence and proportion of specific metal in a given material or mineral sample. Essentially, it involves a series of small-scale, carefully monitored version of reactions that could be reproduced in a larger and industrial scale. Reagents and products are weighed, and the process is conducted under well-controlled conditions using standardised vessels, allowing assayers to draw inferences based on the analysis of small samples. The technique was seen as the birth of modern quantitative analytical chemistry. One of the most diagnostic archaeological materials of silver assaying is the cupel: a small, thick and porous ash-based vessel, where silver was refined and separated from lead in a high-temperature, oxidising reaction. Cupels have been found at European minting, mining and alchemical laboratories sites dating from the 14th century onwards, and their manufacture have also been widely documented in historical treatises. In order to further our understanding of the medieval assaying techniques and facilitate the interpretation of analytical results on archaeological remains, recipes of cupels documented in treatises were recreated in an experimental project in order to assess technical parameters of cupel regarding their manufacture and performance. An assaying furnace based on 16th century descriptions has been built. Seven types of cupels were made with different proportions of wood ash, bone ash, clay and with/without bone-ash facings. All the experimental cupels and silver beads were analysed by SEM-EDS for chemical and microstructural analysis in order to unpick the relationship between the material of cupels, the amount of lead added, and the efficiency of cupellation. The experiment will provide important data and a technological baseline to interpret the fire assaying/cupellation materials found in archaeological contexts.