Subsistence Course – 4 & 5 November 2021

Subsistence Course

Date: 4 & 5 November 2021

Location: Online

Credits: 2 ECTS

What did people eat in the past? How did this change through time? How was food gathered and how was it processed? Food procurement, preparation and consumption form one of the major themes in archaeological research. Nowadays, next to “traditional” settlement archaeology, archaeozoology and archaeobotany, a range of new techniques and approaches are used to study (aspects of) subsistence and diet, from isotopes and chemical fingerprints to micromorphology and landscape-scale modelling. 

The present course will give an introduction to the application of  a range of different approaches to the study of human subsistence, many of which are newly developed scientific methods. With a strong emphasis on discussion, we will combine presentations of specialists with oral and poster presentations. 

The subject is divided in studies at different scales: 

●     Human and human-derived remains

●     Settlement: Fingerprints of food processing

●     Settlement: Food and food remains

●     Landscape

After plenary sessions, the course will consist of several parallel workshops. The workshops include poster sessions that will give students the opportunity to present their own research, and discussion sessions. Students are required to present a poster, or to prepare a role in the discussion sessions. 

Preliminary programme:

4 November

10:00 Opening and welcome – C. Cakirlar

10:15 Introduction: human subsistence in archaeology – D.J. Huisman

Parallel session 1. Human and human-derived remains

11:00 Diet and other behaviours preserved in dental calculus – Amanda Henry

11:30 Stable isotopes (H, C, O, N, Zn)

12:00 Diet and 14C reservoir effects – Jack Dury

12:30 Coprolites – Lisa-Marie Shillito

13:00 Lunch break

14:00 Workshop session with student posters and discussion: which methods best reflect human diet?

Parallel session 2. Fingerprints of food processing in ceramics

11:00 Food & Co: direct chemical characterisation of unknown solid organic materials using FTIR and DTMS – Tania F.M. Oudemans

11:30 Lipid residue analysis on archaeological pottery – Özge Demirci

12:00 Ancient protein analysis of ceramics and food remains – Jessica Hendy

12:30 Looking inside cooking pots through the SEM – Lucy Kubiak-Martens

13:00 Lunch break

14:00 Workshop session with student posters and discussion: which methods best indicate human food composition?

16:00 Plenary wrap-up of the first day

5 November

10:00 Welcome session day 2

Parallel session 1. Food and food remains

10:30 Investigating subsistence practices and pig and cattle husbandry through aDNA and stable isotope analysis – Nathalie Brusgaard, Jolijn Erven

10:55 Dairying in Neolithic context – Safoora Kamjan

11:20 Micro-bone distribution in settlement refuse layers – Dominique Ngan-Tillard

11:45 Microfossils in sediments and tools: phytoliths and starches – Marco Madella

12:10 Subsistence indicators in temperate shell middens – Jos Kleijne

12:35 Lunch break

13:30 Workshop session with student posters and discussion: which methods most efficiently reflect human food production?

Parallel session 2. Landscape

10:30 Early Holocene crop cultivation and landscape modification in Amazonia – Umberto Lombardo

11:00 Simulation modelling of agrarian production – Philip Verhagen

11:30 Tillage or not? Micromorphological identification of cultivated soil horizons – Helen Lewis

12:00 An integrated study of Celtic fields – Stijn Arnoldussen

12:30 Lunch break

13:30 Workshop session with student posters and discussion: which methods best indicate human land use for subsistence?

15:30 Plenary wrap-up of the second day, followed by a reflection on all sessions by Daan Raemaekers.

16:30 Closing remarks and virtual drinks

Assignment: Students are required to present a poster, or to prepare a role in the parallel discussion sessions. Such roles can be either to lead the discussion from an assigned theme or research question in one of the parallel discussion sessions, to reflect on one or more of the speakers, or to summarize and reflect on the results of one of the discussion sessions in the concluding plenary session. We will assign roles based on the motivation that we ask you to include when applying for the course.

When applying for the course, please give a short motivation on why you want to participate in the course, and how the subject matter interfaces with your (master or PhD) research or interest. If you want to present a poster, please give the title of the poster, and the session in which it will be presented. 

Deadline for application is 20 October 2021.

Credits: ARCHON members can receive 2 ECTS for attending both days + presenting an online poster or preparing a role in the discussion sessions.

Registration: Please fill in the registration form below. Registration will close on 20 October 2021.


    If you are not ARCHON member, please contact our coordinator by sending an email to secretary@archonline.nl