TwoRains at EASAA in Naples (2-6 July), Trinity College (Cambridge; 17 Oct) and the Ancient India and Iran Trust (30 Nov-1 Dec)

Hello everyone,

Apologies for the ‘radio silence’ since the summer – we have been busy with conferences, workshops and symposium and unfortunately not posting about it, so a bit of an update is overdue.

In the first week of July (2-6 July to be precise), a number of the TwoRains team travelled to Naples to attend the 24th conference of the European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art. This biennial conference is the premiere European conference on the art and archaeology of South Asia, and brings together researchers from across South Asia, Europe, Asia and North America. The EASAA has traditionally had one or more days devoted to papers on the Indus Civilisation, so it was an ideal venue for us to present an overview and update of our research.

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Alessandro’s winning entry for the “most conference attendees in one selfie” prize (reposted photo by Alessandro Ceccarelli)

We were fortunate to be invited to present a total of eight papers and two posters, which were in general well received, though they also elicited a lot of questions and discussion. The presentations provided an overview of our excavations (Ravindra Nath Singh et al.; Cameron Petrie et al.), outlined our thoughts on multi-cropping (Jennifer Bates et al.), and presented the results of our research on remote sensing (Hector Orengo et al.), surface survey (Adam Green et al.), residue analysis (Akshyeta Suryanarayan et al.), stable isotope analysis (Emma Lightfoot et al.), archaeobotany (M. Cemre Ustunkaya et al.), geoarchaeology (Joanna Walker et al.) and ceramic analysis (Alessandro Ceccarelli et al.).

All of our papers were presented on the Tuesday, and although we had to wait until the Thursday to present the posters, we still had plenty of time to enjoy the conference and the setting – particularly the fantastic food, the tangled streets of Napoli, and the chance to visit Pompeii and some of the nearby resorts and islands.

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Team TwoRains visiting Terme di Baia (reposted photo by Carla Lancelotti)

Not all of the Cambridge group came to Naples, so we decided to host a TwoRains project workshop at the start of the new academic year – on 17 October – at Trinity College. This workshop gave everyone a chance to give an update of the work they have been doing up to the end of summer 2018, and also provided an introduction to everything from new team member Andreas Angourakis, who joined us as a PDRA in September, and will be carrying out agent based modelling. We were also joined by Danika Parikh (and here), Friederike Juerke and Jenny Dunstall.

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Jean-Philippe presenting an update on his weather modelling (photo Cameron Petrie)

Eleven papers were presented over the course of the day. Alena gave us an update on her palaeoclimate reconstruction of the 63KA core, which was previously studied by Staubwasser et al. (2003). Jean-Philippe gave us a crash course on his novel approaches to weather modelling. Arnau and the Francesc talked us through the results of their remote sensing work on the mophodynamics of the Indus floodplain and the identification of previously unrecorded settlements in Cholistan respectively. Adam reviewed the results of the 2017 and 2018 seasons of surface surveying and their implications for understanding urbanisation and deurbanisation. Alessandro discussed the different methods he is using for his analysis of pottery production and distribution and an update on his results. Cemre updated us on her analysis of the archaeobotanical remains from Khanak and Lohari Ragho. Joanna showed us her “time-slices” of the hidden but constantly evolving landscapes around Lohari Ragho I. Emma gave us an overview of her analysis of the stable isotope results from the millet produced during our growing experiments, and the animal bones from Khanak, Farmana, Rakhigarhi and Lohari Ragho. Akshyeta presented her full set of data on the residues from Khanak, Farmana, Rakhigarhi and Masudpur I and VII, and last but not least, Andreas gave us an introduction to the work that he is going to be carrying out using agent based modelling.

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Arnau, Frans, Adam, Alessandro (from top to bottom on the left), Joanna, Cemre, Akshyeta and Andreas (and from top to bottom on the right) in action – apologies to Alena, and Emma who managed to escape the lens (photos Cameron Petrie)

Last, but by no means least, Cemre, Akshyeta and Alessandro were invited to present at the Fifth Annual Allchin Symposium, which returned to Cambridge again this year (30 November-1 December). The Friday night keynote presentation at the McDonald Institute saw Richard Blurton present a visually rich lecture outlining the thinking behind and the practical execution of the remodelling of the Hotung Gallery at the British Museum.

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An almost full-house for Richard Blurton’s keynote talk on the new display in the Hotung Gallery at the British Museum

The presentations given on the Saturday at the Ancient India and Iran Trust saw a chronologically ordered sequence of papers that took us from the archaeobotany and residues of the Indus Civilisation, though the ethnography of pottery making, the many uses of Roman coins in India, the motivations of Buddhist donation, the Solomonic imagery of Empress Nur Jahan, the archaeology of the Mewat in northwest India, to the impact of temple reconstructions in Mundeshvari and Madras. As usual the McDonald and Brooklands House were ideal venues for the relaxed atmosphere and positive discussions that have come to characterise the Allchin Symposium, and we look forward to being able to present papers at the next edition in 2019.

Cheers, Cameron.

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Post-symposium drinks in the Iran Room at the Ancient India and Iran Trust