In The Minds of the Makers: Experimental Archaeology at University College Dublin

“Objects have stories, lives, biographies”.

From their makers to breakers, their takers and then re-remakers, the stuff that once decorated a much older and different world from ours had owners. Owners that gave them a purpose. They were used, traded or passed on until they became broken, lost or discarded. And when an archaeologist finally takes it from the earth, these things enter a second life. One with a very different purpose, destined to fulfilling a modern curiosity and displayed in ways that would perplex their makers.

Since I was a boy I have often found myself in a stifling museum; my coat hanging across one arm, eagerly peering into some glass case and standing back only to let the condensation before my nose dissipate. ‘what are you?’, I would ask. ‘who made you?’, and ‘Why’?

Often, you can see what an object was made from; stone, metal, wood or clay. From its shape and style we can guess its function or even how it was used.

What you can’t do, is touch it. Feel it. Own it and know it, inside out. The senses we have in common with our ancestors are now our most useful tools. And vital to an holistic understanding of the past.

In September 2015 a small group of students at University College Dublin, had the opportunity to explore the ancient past in a way that right now other archaeology students simply cannot. Over the course of two weeks, at our Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Ancient Technologies located on campus, these few students went on a journey through craft and technology; from stone to clay, fire, wood and textiles.

In what was once described in ExArc Journal as a ‘whirlwind of activity’, I saw for myself the museum glass being slowly removed and replaced by ownership and understanding; stepping into the display case and experiencing each hidden element of every little life.

I hope you enjoy this selection of photographs. Remember to follow and share – and stay tuned for more updates from

ArchaeoFox: Exploring the World Through the Past/



7 Comments on “In The Minds of the Makers: Experimental Archaeology at University College Dublin

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. Its been a long time since I was digging. Archaeologists seem to be happy when their hands are dirty, and even more excited when finding antiquities especially the students. !! PS I have a mid term exam coming up for Linear B. hope I can cope with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Last Viking Voyage | ArchaeoFox: Exploring the World Through the Past

  3. Very impressive program. Nothing like here in the USA, as far as I can tell.


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