Residue or Residon't? The Value of Archeaological Micro-debris in Unraveling Dhiban's Imperial Past

Summer 2012

Nicolas Ames : Archaeological Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies (minor)

Mentor: Benjamin Porter, Near Eastern Studies

My project is a reassessment of current archaeological interpretive techniques through comparing two main focuses of artifact analysis. I will be looking at site interpretive resolution of more standard “heavy-fraction” analysis (focusing on items > 4mm in size) in relation to “microdebris” analysis (focusing on items > 2mm in size) to find out which method provides 1) the highest resolution of site area use, 2) efficiency/cost of use of the techniques. My goal is to determine whether more specialized techniques, such as microdebris analysis, provide enough of an interpretive edge to offset the time and monetary costs of its use. To do this I will be traveling to of Dhiban, Jordan to excavate a Roman/Byzantine domestic surface in order to collect and analyze primary data. In conjunction with my reassessment of analytical techniques, I will use my interpreted data to create a site history of domestic life in Roman Dhiban.

Nicolas's Research Blog

Being passionate about near eastern archaeology is difficult, because for the most part it is inaccessible. Granted, I have had the chance to do lab work on similar materials here at Berkeley for the past few semesters, but with something that is so time-consuming and expensive I did not see how any of my designed projects could actually transform into reality. It is with absolute gratitude when I say that this fellowship has made my project possible. Without your generosity I would never have been able to afford all that is required for successful archaeology, nor afforded the opportunity to travel to the actual site in Jordan on which I focus to conduct my own controlled collection of the material. So, thank you for this opportunity to travel in the world, and hopefully make an impact on our current archaeological practices, possible.