Thursday, 1 February 2018

Potteries of the Caribbean

Our last lecture of 2017 took place on Friday 24 November and was given by our departing section secretary Dr Becki Scott who described her recent scientific adventures in the Caribbean in ‘Potteries of the Caribbean’. The lecture took place in the social area behind Brel Theatre at the British School of Brussels.



The Caribbean has a rich and varied past, often represented by ceramic objects. Ceramic objects are usually prolific on archaeological sites and therefore form a focus for many interdisciplinary studies.

These remains can provide a wealth of information about past cultures, relating to style, manufacturing technology, and ultimately past trade and resource management. Stylistic and typological studies can be used to create relative chronologies for a site, while chemical and petrographic analyses are used to provenance the raw material(s) used in the manufacture of the object. Although fragments of ceramics are sometimes available for destructive analyses, many objects held in collections are not. Likewise, these precious objects cannot always be transported to laboratories for further study.

Provenance
Becki was involved with a couple of projects focusing on the provenancing of ceramic objects from the Lesser Antilles. Ceramic fragments from excavation contexts in the Caribbean had been sent to Europe for destructive chemical and petrographic analyses. However, larger, more complete objects in collections on the islands of Grenada and St. Vincent could neither be sub-sampled nor exported.

Becki developed a method of using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (pXRF) to analyse these objects. In other words, she took the instrument to the objects, rather than the objects to the lab. The result of this work has meant that objects, which would otherwise not be analysed geochemically, could be used to contribute to studies determining the cultural interactions between the islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Find out more about Becki's Caribbean adventures and her work in other areas on her blog.

Bye-bye Becki
The event will also be a chance to say ‘au revoir’ to Becki (pictured below with her pXRF spectrometer) as she is now working at Greenwich University in the UK and is resigning as section secretary. However Becki did manage to make a final appearance for RSC Belgium as part of our curling team in December.


Dr Rebecca Beasant Scott – Becki - has been an active member of our section committee, which she joined in 2012, and has acted as section secretary for the past two years.

Born and brought up in Norfolk, Becki had an early interest in archaeology and took a BA in the subject at the University of Wales, Lampeter including a dissertation that focused on an area of south Norfolk that may have been in continuous occupation and use from the Iron Age to today. Joke?

She then took an MA in Cultural Landscape Management at Lampeter, followed by a MSc in Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology at Cranfield University awarded in 2008 for which she won the Inforce Prize for best overall academic performance.

This was followed by a PhD at Cranfield on the investigation and characterisation of colourless glass from forensic and archaeological contexts using multiple interdisciplinary analytical techniques.

A postdoctoral position at KU Leuven brought her to Belgium to research on the use of trace elements to provenance archaeological glass in 2010-2011. Followed by a second post-doc position in Leiden University in The Netherlands. Becki has now returned to the UK where she is employed as an Analytical Geochemist at the University of Greenwich on its Chatham campus.

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