Discussion issues at UISPP Session B14 “An archaeology of fuels…”

The UISPP2014 session will be held on September the 2nd at room from 9:00 to 15:00 with coffee and lunch breaks along the day. The session An Archaeology of fuels: social and environmental factors in behavioural strategies of multi-resource management” has 20 contributions (12 oral contributions and 8 posters) presenting a worldwide perspective, including studies of all continents: Asia (Australia, Turkey), Europe (Spain, Portugal, and France), South America (Brazil, Argentina, and Chile) and Africa (Algeria, Morocco). The diversity of these presentations is also reinforced by the wide range of topics related to fuel energy control by past societies, particularly in terms of theoretical and methodological approaches: phytoliths, micromorphology, ethnography, charcoal analysis, zooarchaeology, taphonomy and experimental archaeology. In addition, the research topics that are presented cover a chronological frame from the Middle Paleolithic to Roman period and include different materials used as fuel, such as wood, bone, non-woody plants, dung, peat-like materials, and subsurface hydrocarbons. The diversity of these original scientific contributions presented is expected to open innovative research routes particularly related to fuel provision, production and consumption.

Different issues that will be broadly discussed by the participants motivate this session focused on fuel. A core question is to disentangle the theoretical and methodological issues related with the little interest that the archaeological literature have given to fuel and energy management. In this sense, both the diversity in chronological and geographical frameworks of the works presented and in the multiple disciplines involved will offer an excellent opportunity to address it. From these starting point, some of the discussion topics suggested by the different works presented are:

  1. Is there a lack of theoretical formulation to integrate fuel and energy management and consumption in the archaeological narratives?
  2. Is there a theoretical (interpretation of past societies through the archaeological record) and scientific (technical specific disciplines involved in the identification of fuels use) divide to be broken down?
  3. How can we address preference and choosing of fuels through the archaeological record?
  4. Are there different choices and attitudes towards fuel and energy among hunter-gatherers, shepherds and farmers?
  5. Is there a lack of scientific knowledge on the variability of biomass-fuel quality and fire-product preservation through time with respect to environmental conditions?

Museo de la Evolución Humana

Atapuerca’s fieldwork season takes place usually on July. Saturday is the day off and the visit to the Museo de la Evolución Humana is one of the favorite activities among the excavation team workers. Last July, Ethel Allué was there and took a tour at the Museo de la Evolución Humana.

In this post we are not going to discover everything; as if you are attending the UISPP 2014 you will be able to visit it yourself. We will just mention a couple of interesting things. Evidences of the use of fire are explained at the museum’s second floor, there are two panels with explanations on the first evidences of use and control of fire and an audiovisual explaining the facts and site evidences.

Fire Zone

Fire Evidences Zone at Museo de la Evolución Humana at Burgos, Spain

Next to the panels there is also a huge round structure in which you can experience the evolution of energy through time. Besides fire, the large scale reproduction of the brain and the reconstruction of the Beagle are some of the most stunning things to look inside and experience.

Kids at the Beagle reconstruction in Museo de la Evolución at Burgos, Spain

Kids at the Beagle reconstruction in Museo de la Evolución at Burgos, Spain

Inside our Brain

Inside the Brain reproduction at Museo de la Evolución Humana at Burgos, Spain

On July the 22nd the Museo de la Evolución Humana inaugurated the exhibition The Cradle of humanity that can be visited on wendesday the 3rd during the UISPP2014 Congress.

Transfer of Scientific knowledge, Fuel and Society

Transfer of scientific knowledge is an important issue regarding links between Research and Society. The Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) at Tarragona, Spain, directed by Eudald Carbonell, has a long tradition on socialization of the research production at different levels. At IPHES, Cinta Bellmunt is in charge of the communication section and coordinates the different media : blogs, social networks, radio, newspapers and television.

The IPHES blog provides an international scale difusion that is also widespread through facebook, twitter and youtube. At a local scale two media collaborate with IPHES the local radio and newpaper. Tarragona radio has since 2012 a live section during its morning show “El matí de Tarragona radio”. The section, named Evoluciona, is carried out at the Institute on tuesday’s morning every 15 days. The program includes interviews to researchers presenting news on different aspects of their research. The local newspaper, “Diari de Tarragona” has a section that comes out every two sundays. Last Sunday’s editorial was entitled “Energetic resources and Society” and includes some news on the UISPP2014 session “An Archaeology of Fuel…” that is going to be held next september at Burgos. Here is the pdf.


The UISPP2014 program is out

The UISPP world conference program is out. The sessions are organized in five days from Monday september the 1st to Friday september the 5th. Wednesday and the following weekend are dedicated to fieldtrips.“An Archaeology of fuels: social and environmental factors in behavioural strategies of multi-resource management” session will be held on Tuesday september the 2nd from 9:00 to 15:00. The session is focused on the different approaches for the study of fuel and will have contributions coming from all over the world. In the following posts we will be giving more details on our session. Other fuel related interesting sessions are session B17 “Shepherds and Caves” that will be held on Monday afternoon and session B53 “The archaeology of early fire use” held on tuesday afternoon.


An archaeology of Fuels

In the frame of the UISPP conference that will be held in Burgos next september we proposed a session entitled “An Archaeology of fuels: social and environmental factors in behavioural strategies of multi-resource management“. The organization of this session is carried out by Ethel Allué (IPHES), Llorenç Picornell (UIB) and Marie-Agnés Courty (PROMES). Our first post consists in the abstract of the session:

The management of fuel resources by past societies has been mostly considered from the perspective of pyrothechnology and fire-related activities, all approached along the fire chaîne opératoire: combustible supply, energy production and fire use, and by-product disposal. Within this frame, combustible are widely assumed to have been for long mainly provided by fresh biomass resources (plant and animal). Therefore, the control of environmental factors on the availability of these resources is generally viewed to have exerted a major role on behavioural strategies of fuel management.

We intend here to debate how a comprehensive approach of fuel management in the archaeological record, through cultural periods and across cultural territories, can help to reach a holistic comprehension of energy control in the social spheres along to human evolution. The session will put together recent investigations of authors coming from a wide diversity of archaeological and environmental disciplines. We expect to generate a compilation of innovative research which will be published in an international high-profile scientific journal or monograph.

We seek contributions on the integrated characterization of fuel resources from all environmental related disciplines (archaeobotany, zooarchaeology and geoarchaeology, geochemistry) and their contextual interpretation in terms of energy production at all scales of occupation units within the frame of archaeological data. We request presentations that critically analyse the relevance of field-analytical procedures, experimental archaeology and ethnoarchaeology to providing a comprehensive data base of indicators with respect to fuel sources, combustion processes, firing products and related residues.

Multidisciplinary attempts to decouple the complex interaction of environmental and social factors on fuel management deciphered from all archaeological records are most welcome. We suggest participants to particularly question our ability to tracing changes in the availability of fuel resources through time, and their repercussion on social behaviour for energy production and various uses (domestic households, manufactures, ritual and funeral practices).