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Science, conservation and archaeology

Final Activity Report Summary - EST-IOASCA (Science, conservation and archaeology)

The project aimed at training a new generation of archaeologists and related professionals to use modern scientific methods in their daily work. To this end, fellowships for specific MSc programmes, doctoral research training, and short-term visiting fellowships were offered. Over its lifetime, the project attracted very strong interest from across Europe and beyond, and has supported nearly 50 individual scholars in their early stage training. All 19 fellows on one-year fellowships obtained their MSc degree, many with a distinction mark, and more than half of them have continued into doctoral studies, either at UCL or elsewhere. Seven doctoral fellowships, lasting two or three years, were awarded; of these fellows four are already in full-time qualified employment, while the others are writing up their thesis, or nearing completion of their research. A total of 23 visiting fellowships were awarded to emerging scholars enrolled elsewhere for doctoral studies in archaeology; this part of the project was particularly popular and has made a tremendous impact on the subject by offering intensive access to the UCL Institute of Archaeology's unparalleled research infrastructure.

The coverage of research subjects reflected the global attraction of the programme and the breadth of activity at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. Fellows were recruited from around the globe, from Argentina, Mexico and Cuba, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Jordan, New Zealand, China, the US and Canada. Most fellowships were awarded to European applicants, representing both the old and new EU Member States. Fellows came from Portugal and Spain, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia; from Ireland and Germany, France, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.

The research done by the fellows covered all materials relevant to the project's aims, including studies of the earliest copper artefacts and copper smelting from Europe, the effect which the arrival of the first Europeans had on the use of metals by the indigenous population in Cuba, the use and recycling of glass in early Byzantine churches in Jordan and in late Roman eastern Europe, the development of analytical chemistry from its roots in alchemy in Renaissance Europe, the trade in and production of pottery in South East Asia and of glass in early China. Pioneering studies of early metal artefacts and metal production processes in Mexico, Iran, Thailand and China, undertaken by visiting fellows on three-months stipends, underlined the global impact which this project had on strengthening the application of material science-based methods within archaeology.

The application of Geographical information systems (GIS) formed another important and particularly successful focus of the project, reflecting strong demand from the most able applicants. Most of the research in this area was focussed on eastern Europe and western Asia (from Poland and Bulgaria to Greece and Turkey), addressing such important issues such as the relationship of early settlements to landscape and geographical features, and developing comprehensive strategies of recording and protecting archaeological sites.