By Dave Gilbert
The 11th February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. A day instigated by the UN that recognises the critical role women and girls play in science and technology. Red River Archaeology would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the scientific contribution to project delivery by our highly qualified female members of staff. There is a longstanding debate as to whether archaeology is a science or should be classified as a branch of humanities. Regardless of this many of our staff are highly qualified in more pure science based skills. It is this diverse and expert skill set that is critical to high quality project delivery and their application of STEM subject knowledge to find out about the past.
Our post-excavation manager Vicky Rees is responsible for the artefacts excavated from our excavations and holds an MSc in Care of Collections. With her expert knowledge she ensures the finds of our excavations reach the museums in the best possible condition.
Specialist analysis of human remains is being conducted by Siobhan Sinnott, who holds an MSc in Forensic Archaeology. Rose Calis is another of our osteologists holding an MSc in Archaeological Science and specialising primarily in animal bone analysis. Both are currently working on a large project involving isotope and parasite analysis on the largely medieval assemblage of national significance. There knowledge throwing light and insight on previously unknown aspects of demographics and burial practice.
Science in archaeology is not just limited to the labs and offices, but also forms an important element of all fieldwork projects. Environmental archaeology is the science of reconstructing the relationships between past societies and the environments they lived in. Our senior project officer Vix Hughes holds an MSc in Environmental Archaeology, and is currently leading a large field team on a major infrastructure project in southern England. Artefacts require careful handling after discovery so that they do not fall apart before the specialists can analyse them. Undertaking the primary care of excavated artefacts and the site archive with this team is Victoria Alexander, who holds an MSc in Archaeological Science.