Events for 2016

Thursday 21 January ‘Poisons, Plants and Palaeo-lithic hunters’ by Valentina Borgia

Hunters, from all over the world, poison their weapons with toxic substances derived from plants and occasionally from animals. This practice highlights the fact that weapons are often completely ineffective as hunting tools if their tips are not poisoned. Ancient peoples, such as the Babylonians, Greeks and Romans, used plant-based poisons both for hunting animals and in war. The fact that toxic substances were available, and the benefits arising from their use on throwing weapons (e.g. safe distance of the hunter from the prey, quick death of large prey), suggest that this practice could have also been widespread among prehistoric hunters. Dr. Borgia will present an interdisciplinary research project focused on development of a method capable to detect poisons on archaeological spears/arrows with the aim of going back in time to the Palaeolithic in order to find out if poisonous substances were added to weapons as a way of further improving their hunting success.

Valentina Borgia is a Visiting Scholar at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research (University of Cambridge). Since doctoral studies, at the Univeristy of Siena (Italy) her research has focused on Palaeolithic hunting techniques and weapons.

Wednesday 17 February ‘The New Excavations at Must Farm’ by Selina Davenport

Must Farm is a clay quarry near Peterborough extracting clay for brick making. It is also home to a marvellous archaeological project currently being undertaken by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), funded by Historic England and Forterra (formally Hanson).
Previous excavations at Must Farm unearthed a wonderfully intact prehistoric landscape preserved by the fenland deposits. The current phase revisits the 2006 excavations which investigated mysterious pieces of timber protruding from the side of the disused quarry face. The excavation, though small, produced a vast amount of archaeological material and some previously unseen artifact types from the British Bronze Age. The small trial trench dug in 2006 is now being expanded to see what further hidden treasures can be uncovered. The 9-month excavation is aimed at increasing our understanding and creating a much broader, hopefully more accurate, picture of domestic life in the Bronze Age. This is made possible thanks to an unfortunate accident (maybe) which led to the catastrophic destruction of a settlement in use preserving an intact snap shot of life of the inhabitants.
The talk will bring you up-to-date on the excavations which have been ongoing since September and discuss some of the working theories of the excavation team about what they are finding and how these discoveries help embellish the picture of Bronze Age life.
Selina Davenport is the Must Farm Outreach Supervisor based at Cambridge Archaeological Unit.

Thursday 10 March ‘Archaeology and Language’ by James Clackson

Languages evolve over time, and by comparing languages it is possible to reconstruct languages spoken thousands of years before the advent of writing. The best studied of these reconstructed languages is called ‘Proto-Indo-European’ and is the ancestor of most of the languages spoken in Europe (except for Finnish, Hungarian and Basque) as well as the languages of Iran, Pakistan and northern India. In this talk, James Clackson will present different theories that linguists and archaeologists have proposed about the speakers of Proto-Indo-European—where they lived, how they lived and why their language eventually came to dominate so much of Eurasia.

Wednesday 18 May ‘Looting Matters: Returning Archaeological Material to Greece and Italy’ by David Gill

More details soon.

FEAG talk: Thursday 22 September, 7.30 pm, At Willingham Baptist Church, George St, Willingham, Cambridge CB24 5LJ

‘Landscape Survey in East Kent’ by Lacey Wallace

More details soon.

Thursday 24 November ‘Did Neolithic people really hate fish? – stories from the world of

palaeodietary analysis’ by Tamsin O’Connell

More details soon.


Meetings are held at 7.30pm at Cottenham Village College, unless shown.


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