Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bradford cathedral and the 'grotto' archaeology conference

Yestereday evening I had a look at Bradford's cathedral:

The Polish community sang Polish carols, offered Polish (alas, very meaty) food and -of course, since we are in England- wine. There was also an exhibition of Polish cribs, with a single specimen from the Polish community of Huddersfield. It looked more like an oriental castle than the birthscene of Jesus, but well....

The cathedral has the wooden ceiling beautifully rebuilt:

And so I had a pretty nice evening.

Today was the Pre- & 'Grotto-History: Some Recent Research into the Prehistoric use of Caves day conference of the Prehistoric Society. There were some interesting talks concerning the Neolithic use of caves, for example Tom Lord's presentation of an early Neolithic non-monumental burial type, involving -not cannibalism- but complicated burial rites with decomposing in the open and then bringing back the still articulated body to prep it up with stones to imitate a living body. He called the stonepacked corpses 'skeletal mommies'.

Two speakers tried to develop a system how to predict where archaeological caves would be in order to find them before metal detectors and looters. Both had to admit that it is not really working.

Rick Schulting then presented his work, comparing isotope values from skeletons of Gop Cave in North Wales with skeletons from the very near chambered tomb Parc le Breos. He could demonstrate, that the people of the chamber tomb had a higher portion of meat/dairy in their diet than the people buried in the cave (lower end of social hierarchy?). this is the cave site (Cathole Cave, Gower peninsula):
And this is Parc le Breos, the nearby chambered tomb:

A PhD student of Paul Petit presented a paper in his absence about Mousterien use of caves, like fire places and stone tools.

Andrew Chamberlain did his statistics about cave burials, like 'a third of people buried in the Neolithic were sub-adults'. He was one of the two who presented the prediction model. The only thing he found was htat larger and higher caves attracted more burials.

L'art pariétal at Sculptor's Cave:

Neolithic pottery from Elbolten cave: