Ness of Brodgar

The image you are looking at is an aerial view of Structure 10 from the Ness of Brodgar excavations.
The image has been embedded with further information about the site.
Click on the circular ‘hotspots’ to access this information.
Demo imageImage used by kind permission of Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark


Information

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Structure 10 - 3D photogrammetry model


A 3D photogrammetry model of Structure 10 at the end of the 2015 excavation season (21 August 2015), with kind permission of Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark.

Click to open the 3D model. The model is very detailed and may take a time to load. Once loaded, the model can be panned, tilted, and zoomed. In addition, it contains 15 hotspots of its own which offer an even closer inspection of the site.

Dr Anderson-Whymark has also produced a 3D model of the entire site.

A huge amount of further information about can be found on The Ness of Brodgar Excavations web site.


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Image Gallery

  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
  • artefact ‘SF7530’
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    Position of SF7530 in Structure 10 (Looking NE)    


During the excavations at the Ness of Brodgar in 2010, an extraordinary decorated stone (SF7530) was found in Structure 10. The following slides will take you through the journey that the stone took from its initial discovery on site, to its excavation, cleaning and recording, and eventual display and storage. Along the way we will explore some of these different stages and settings as a way of thinking about some of the key themes in studies of art and archaeology.

The photogrammetry model of Structure 10 shows the site as it was at the end of 2015, but in the following sequence of images we go back in time to 2010 and the stone’s initial discovery.

Looking at both the view of the structure seen in the above image and the 3D model made in 2015, what are the main differences?


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    SF7530 in situ before excavation    



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This particular decorated stone formed part of a wall at the eastern end of Structure 10. It would have been on the right hand side upon walking into the building, a location which seems to have been significant in the Neolithic.

Several other important decorated stones are also visible in this photograph. At the far (west) end of the building, the upright pillar of red sandstone which formed the central support for the dresser can be clearly seen. This particular type of stone would have quarried from several kilometres away and was probably chosen specifically for its colour.

What does this tell us about stone, and different types of stone in the Neolithic?

In the middle of the building, the stones of the square hearth are partly exposed. The triangular block of stone in the middle of the hearth has also been deliberately marked, with a series of crude pecked cup-marks. Its placement in the middle of the hearth appears to mark the start of the process of demolition and abandonment of the building.

What does this particular context and placement tell us?


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    SF7530 during excavation, half revealed    



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This image shows the stone during excavation. The red and white bars are photographic scales. The white buckets are used to contain soil samples for environmental analysis, an important part of fieldwork. This type of photograph is often called a ‘working shot’: a snapshot of the site as it is during excavation, rather than when it has been cleaned for photography.

What different sorts of information do different types of photographs convey? Why do we use a combination of different types of photographs to record a site?


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    SF7530 during excavation    



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A close-up showing the stone. In this image the cup-marks on the other edge of the stone are visible, although the stone is still not yet fully revealed.


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    Excavating SF7530    



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In this image a box-section has been excavated around the stone. The yellow clay of Structure 10’s floor is visible. Interestingly, the cup-marks would have extended below the level of the floor, meaning that they would not have been fully visible once the building was occupied.

What does this observation tell us about the stone’s carving and placement?


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    Excavating SF7530    



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A soft brush is being used to minimise damage to the stone during excavation.


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    Labelling SF7530    



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During excavation, several flakes became detached from the decorated stone, and were retained as artefacts. This image shows the finds bag containing these flakes, which is labelled with the finder’s initials, the date and a brief description of the find, ‘cupmarked stone’. It also shows the various codes and symbols used in archaeological recording.

  • NoB10 = the site code and year (abbreviation of Ness of Brodgar 2010)
  • TrP Str10 = where it was found (Trench P, Structure 10)
  • 2411 = the context (usually contained in a rectangle)
  • 7530 = the ‘small finds’ number (usually contained in a triangle)

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    Washing SF7530    



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Now the stone has been excavated and removed from site, the full extent of the stone can be seen. There is a step on one side, which has arisen from breakage, probably deliberate, along a natural fault. This step allowed it to be keyed into the wall. The full extent of the decoration can also be seen. There are over 30 cupmarks! They are different sizes, and appear to be in groups.

How might we understand these markings?


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    SF7530 drying in the finds shed    



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Once removed from site and cleaned, the stones are left to dry in the finds shed with the other artefacts from the site.


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    Stone in finds shed    



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The shelves in the finds shed contain a diverse assemblage of material from different sites and excavation seasons. Many finds have to be stored in special conditions for conservation.


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    Lighting SF7530 in the studio    



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Although the stone has been removed from its original context, the lighting in the studio can indicate how light may have played an important role in the Neolithic. With some of the incised stones, different angles of light can render the markings visible or invisible. Although this is not really an issue with stones which have such dramatic marking as SF7530, lighting is still important.

How would different types of light have affected the experience of carved stones in Neolithic buildings?


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    Drawing SF7530    



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Many artefacts are drawn for publication, which involves measured technical drawing. As SF7530 has markings which are easily seen in a photograph, it is not being drawn for publication. In this image, the decorated stone is just being sketched as part of the recording process, to accompany written notes.

Why does drawing form such a major part of archaeological practice? What are the different ‘ways of looking’ involved in drawing, as against photography?


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    Preparing SF7530 for photography    



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Archaeological photography generally conforms to a series of accepted conventions concerning scale, lighting, angle of view etc.

Why are these conventions important? How might these photographic ‘rules’ be problematic?


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    SF7530, no scale, angled view    



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This view shows the stone without a scale, and angled towards the camera. It is not a typical archaeological artefact photograph, as it does not have a scale. Archaeologists normally illustrate artefacts with scales in the photograph, but museum catalogues usually show artefacts without scales.

Do we need a scale, or is it enough to put the dimensions in the caption? What are the effects of these different conventions of artefact photography?


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    SF7530 on display in the Pier Arts Centre    



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Unusually, this particular stone was also exhibited at the Pier Arts Centre in January 2011 as part of the ‘Test Trenches’ collaborative residency involving artists and archaeologists. Removing this decorated stone from its site, and placing it in a contemporary art gallery, allowed an exploration of context (*see Thomas 2014 below). It allowed several questions to be raised about processes of display and representation, both in the past and the present.

Perhaps most importantly of all, taking the decorated stone into the art gallery allowed the question to be asked “is it art?” What do you think?

Thomas, A. 2014. ‘Creating contexts: between the archaeological site and art gallery’. In A. Cochrane & I.A. Russell (eds.) Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms. One World Archaeology Series, Volume 11. New York: Springer-Kluwer.

Pier Arts Centre

Virtual tour (login using your student ID).


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