November 21, 2014

Butser Ancient farm trip

Visiting Butser Ancient farm was an enlightening experience. The site, featuring pre-historic roundhouses allowed me to appreciate the lives of those who lived on the farm. It demonstrated the idea of sustenance and making the best use of your surroundings in order to survive. For example, the roundhouses were made entirely of wood and mud. The hands-on, practical approach meant we were involved in various activities throughout the day. We were given the opportunity to paint our own frescos and this allowed me to gain a great understanding of the techniques used by the original inhabitants. The metalwork, using two simple bellows to create heat, demonstrated to me the resourcefulness of those who used such methods. It further illustrated how the lives of the original occupants involved a great deal of manual labour to survive, in contrast to many of our lives today. The final activity was building the basic structure of a roundhouse. This appeared to be relatively straightforward yet after initially getting the proportions all wrong, it took a co-ordinated effort to ensure our structure remained standing. The whole trip gave me a tangible appreciation of the overall lives of those who lived on the farm and their ingenuity.

October 27, 2014

Ancient Copper Smelting

Here are some images of the copper smelting workshop, which turned the raw stone malachite into copper.from malachite to copper

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A Day at Butser Ancient Farm

I joined the trip to Butser Farm as a postgraduate student auditing the module. However as my Masters course looks at ancient visual and material culture, the practical workshops were very relevant. They have given me a deeper understanding of how the materials I study may have been made, and the challenges faced by artisans in an age before modern technology, materials and processes. For example, one of our tasks was to erect the basic frame of an iron age round house. Though the buildings seemed simple enough, when you get down to constructing one yourself you realise how difficult it is to actually plot out a circular building. I realised that the people making these houses must have developed fairly sophisticated methods of dealing with this issue, and that the challenges would have been even greater for some of the colossal structures I have studied. The workshop I enjoyed the most was the fresco painting. Not only was it great to recreate ancient techniques, but it gave me an appreciation of what it was like to work with natural pigments, and how the expense of certain pigments must have effected colour choices in art work. This trip was not just informative but also great fun. I really enjoyed the opportunity for some hands-on learning, and was really glad I tagged along.

Constructing our round house frame

October 20, 2014

Butser Ancient Farm Trip

Writing about web page

A great advantage of this module is that we are taken out of the lecture room in order to get first hand experience on what we are studying. Butser Ancient Farm has been imperative to our understanding of everyday art and architecture in the ancient world. We were given a new outlook on the practicalities of building a hut, fresco painting, metalwork, as well having a tour of the reconstructed hamlet. For instance, our metalwork session allowed us to understand why so little archeological evidence remains behind for bellows and furnaces and our knowledge is largely guesswork. However, I found it fascinating to see how archaeologists have interpreted the few remains we have discovered, experimenting all the time through trial and error. What particularly interested me was the difference between modern synthetic paints and fresco paints. There are fragments in fresco painting (which are not in synthetic paints) that means when sunlight hits these fragments, the paint illuminates. This has helped us to envision the opulence of rooms found containing frescos and the wealth these paintings symbolise. Butser Farm’s experimental archaeology has transformed our knowledge of art and architecture in the ancient world that will be invaluable for our course as a whole. Without a doubt, this opportunity gave us a new perspective we never would have been able to achieve in a lecture.

October 19, 2014

Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire

I really enjoyed the trip to Butser Ancient Farm because it gave me the chance to learn about aspects of the ancient world I had not previously come across through interactive and fun activities. For example, I have never been totally clear on the processes involved in ancient metal-working so to be able to see and get involved with the processes was very beneficial for me. Also, I appreciated how difficult it is to get a vision of life in Ancient Britain. On the tour of the site, we were told the site had been developed by experimental archaeology, based on surveying the holes in the ground and referring to previous theories, for instance if there were two holes there might have been a washing line. However, there could have been other objects in place with two holes so we can only give an idea of what was there- an accurate one but not 100% sure! These problems do come up in Greek or Roman architecture but not to the same extent because several temples survived in their form and there is lots of literary references to support our theories. Despite this, Buter Farm's experimental archaeology and interactive activities go a long way to developing our understanding of life in Ancient Britain!

October 17, 2014

Butser Ancient Farm Trip

The 'Art and Architecture of Asia Minor' field trip to Butser Ancient Farm provided an interactive and engaging way to get to grips with the techniques of craftsmanship in ancient times. The day was well-organised and the small groups we were divided into ensured that everyone had the opportunity to get involved in the activities and ask any questions. The activities (fresco painting, metalworking and hut building) were informative, accessible (particularly fresco painting given my limited artistic prowess!) but most of all fun. There was a real sense of enjoyment throughout the day and this provided a positive learning atmosphere which ensured everyone took something from the day. I was particularly impressed by the ethos of the farm itself in attempting to make the farm as authentic as possible from the animals they reared to the techniques used to build the impressive huts. The farm specialised in experimental archaeology, putting to the test theories only previously written down. This, as we learnt from the director of the site, produced results often proving false untested conclusions and instead created newer more accurate results. This is something which I think is fundamental in all disciplines of Classics and I do not think this style of practice should be overlooked. All in all, I took a great deal from the day and would thoroughly recommend that this visit be continued over the coming years.

October 16, 2014

Butser Ancient Farm field trip, 15th October 2014.

As a postgraduate student auditing the 'Art and Architecture of Asia Minor' module, I was delighted to be able to go on the trip to Butser Ancient Farm. It is a really unique and interesting site, and evidently an excellent educational resource. The nature of our discipline is such that we rarely get to engage with the methods and materials involved in what we study, so going to Butser was an ideal opportunity to refesh and enrich our perspective on ancient material culture. All the staff were incredibly knowledgeable and brilliant at answering the various (and inevitably very specific!) questions that we all had. I was amazed by the quality and scale of the site itself. I particularly found the fresco painting session useful - it was very interesting to hear Roman painting being discussed from an artist's perspective, and to realise the level of complexity involved in trying to recreate aspects of ancient life. It was also fantastic to be able to walk round and get a sense of a 'real life' Romano-British villa; this added a new dimension to the ways in which I perceive ancient domestic art and how it was experienced by its patrons, because I am now able to take into account factors such as lighting, the weather, and even how smoky or cold a room might have been!

October 14, 2014

Welcome to the Blog!

This blog is for you to write your comments on the workshops you experienced at Butser Ancient Farm. Please write around 200 words, commenting on what you enjoyed or found most useful, and how it added to your existing knowledge of the techniques of ancient art and architecture. Please also indicate which sessions you think I should repeat in future years, or any other similar sessions you think would be helpful. Feel free to add photos too! This blog will later form part of the report to IATL.

Please write your blog within 3 weeks of the trip.

Thank you, Zahra.

June 2023

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