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Getting the dirt on the inhabitants of Ribe: A microscopic journey

Lecture by Postdoc Barbara Wouters & PhD student Pernille L. K. Trant.

2019.01.04 | Lasse Rievers Olesen

Date Tue 05 Mar
Time 16:00 17:00
Location Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University, Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg, Denmark (Building 4230-232).



In this joint seminar Postdoc Barbora Wouters and PhD student Pernille L. K. Trant will talk about the geoarchaeological research performed as part of the Northern Emporium Excavation Project in Ribe, Denmark.

After a brief introduction to the sampling strategy and procedures that were applied to this important early medieval trading town, a detailed account is presented of the geoarchaeological analyses, as well as some recent results.

Two main geoarchaeological methods were conducted at this site. Soil micromorphology, a technique that is used to study undisturbed blocks in thin section under the microscope, was applied to gain more information about the formation histories and character of challenging stratigraphic units on site. These included outdoor areas such as ditches and roads, as well as contexts inside the houses.

Secondly, handheld µXRF (micro X-ray fluorescence) was used for the analysis of geochemical samples in order to create a high-resolution dataset of chemical elements from inside one Viking-age house. This method enabled us to work with more than 1000 samples from the same context, which provide the opportunity to include a thorough statistical analysis of the results.

This study has also given rise to method development. When comparing the results from the µXRF with results obtained by ICP-MS (Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) analysis of the same samples, the robustness of the µXRF method can be tested. This method study should in the end unravel the secrets kept in the floors of the house and tell us about the activities and day-to-day life inside them.​

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception.

History and archaeology, Lecture/talk