Welcome to the SURFACE blog

Welcome to the SURFACE project blog!

The SURFACE project is a 2 1/2 year Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship that will investigate the Palaeolithic artefacts dating from up to 1.8 million years ago that are spread across Arabia. By integrating data from remote sensing and field survey for new artefacts in models of landscapes developed in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), I will investigate the extent to which these distributions can tell us about the behaviour of the populations who produced, used and discarded these artefacts whilst they occupied these regions (see more in the ‘About’ section).

This blog is intended to provide an accessible way for non-academics and academics alike to follow the course of an archaeological research project from beginning to conclusion, shedding light on the ways in which archaeologists and geomorphologists work together to tackle the ‘big questions’ of how and when our ancestors left Africa and dispersed across the globe.

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Surveying the slopes of extinct volcanoes, Southern Jizan Province.  Photo: R. Inglis.

Funding for the project comes from the European Commission and, as a Global Fellow I will split my time between Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and the University of York in the UK, building links between the approaches and academic communities of the two countries. At Macquarie, I will be workingwith A/Prof Trish Fanning, an expert in arid-zone geoarchaeology, and Dr Michael Chang, who specialises in remote sensing and GIS. Outside of Australia, the project itself is supported through collaboration with a range of international colleagues, primarily Prof. Geoff Bailey (Univ. of York), Dr Anthony Sinclair (Univ. of Liverpool) and Dr Abdullah Alsharekh (King Saud University), as well as the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the Saudi Geological Society (more info about those involved in the project can be found on the ‘People’ page).

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Surveying a fossil coral terrace overlying a basalt lava flow on the Red Sea coast, Asir Province. Photo: R. Inglis

And so to the immediate future plans – now I’m settled in to Macquarie’s Department of Environmental Science, my thoughts turn to developing the GIS infrastructure for interpreting the existing archaeological data as well as guiding future work which we hope to carry out in November 2016. The weeks ahead will involve taking stock of my existing data on the region, and exploring new data sources which can be used to fuller understand the development of the landscape in Western Saudi Arabia. This understanding will then be used to work out where to target future seasons of geoarchaeological survey.

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Examining a cut through river and wind-blown deposits, Southern Jizan Region. Photo: R. Inglis

So, early days in the project, but stay tuned for further updates!

Robyn

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