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Thursday 20th September 2018 – Marlow Lecture: Boxford Mosaic

Invitation from Archaeology in Marlow

The Boxford Mosaic: a unique discovery and its wider context

by Dr Steve Clark

Since 2012 the Roman Boxford project has been investigating three Roman sites near the village of Boxford in West Berk-
shire. One site has proved to be the largest known Roman villa yet found in Berkshire, another is a substantial Roman farmstead with Iron Age origins. The third site was a modest villa which contained a remarkable figurative mosaic with inscriptions and many elements thought to be unique amongst Romano-British decorated floors. It has been described as the most exciting mosaic discovery made in Britain in the last fifty years.

This talk will examine the mosaic and other new discoveries from Roman Boxford and attempt to place them in their wider context.

Dr Steve Clark is the Co-Project Leader of the project for the Berkshire Archaeology Research Group, which has been conducting this research at Boxford with its partners Cotswold Archaeology and the Boxford History Project

This is a joint talk with MAS organised by AIM

Members of AIM/MAS £3, visitors £4.50
8pm Garden Room, Liston Hall, Chapel Street, Marlow SL7 1DD
For details of AIM’s other activities and how you can join, either log on to our website,, or contact: John Laker, 9 Spinfield Lane, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 2JT. Tel: 01628 481792

Saturday 15th September BAS AGM & Lecture: The Donkey in Human History

Saturday 15th September BAS AGM & Lecture:

The Donkey in Human History: an Archaeological Perspective

by Professor Peter Mitchell, St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford

Donkeys are the forgotten domesticate. Notwithstanding an association with people that is at least 7000 years old, they are frequently lost sight of by both archaeologists and historians, in part a reflection of the low social status that they – and those keeping them today – are accorded. My book -The Donkey in Human History- is an attempt to redress this situation by exploring the range of connections between donkeys and people since their first domestication in Northeast Africa in the fifth/sixth millennia BC. It does so in a series of chapters investigating the role of the donkey in transport, trade, agriculture, and other endeavours in Egypt, the Near East, the Classical and medieval worlds, and the New Worlds (especially in the Americas) that opened up after 1492.

Summarising these themes, the talk focuses on three examples of the donkey’s importance. The first of these concerns Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, effected not on a ‘humble ass’ as popularly conceived, but on a pure-bred animal rich in millennial-old traditions linking donkeys, kingship, and the divine. These associations are traced across the Near Eastern Bronze Age, including the vital importance of donkeys – and donkey hybrids – as pack-animals in long-distance trade networks and as the first animals to pull wheeled vehicles.

The talk’s second example turns to Rome and the role of the donkey (and its offspring the mule) in supporting Rome’s armies, as well as other systems of transport and communication. Archaeological evidence that the Roman state may have taken a direct interest in mule production is one of the topics discussed.

The talk then turns to the impact of mules and donkeys as hidden – but vital – actors in the logistical networks that powered Spain’s American empire, especially the production and transport of silver, and thus contributed to the processes of economic and social change that helped shape the emergence of the modern world.

As these examples show, the donkey’s historical trajectory in human societies has seen a gradual loss of elite and ritual associations in favour of emphasising its connections with the poor, the rural and the disadvantaged. Thinking about donkeys – and other animals – from this standpoint forces us to consider the ways in which both animals and people have been thought about, linked and treated by others, as well as requiring us to examine how far they should be attributed an historical agency of their own, rather than amply thought of (or overlooked) as passive, mute tools of their human masters.

Download AGM agenda here

2.00 pm for 2.30 pm at the RISC Centre, London Street, Reading RG1 4PS

Google map reference

Image from a 5th C mosaic in the imperial palace, Constantinople. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Opens January 24th 2018 – West Berkshire Museum: Hoards

West Berkshire Museum

Special Exhibition: Hoards

Bringing together for the first time, over 11 hoards from all over West Berkshire.  A chance to see buried treasure from prehistory to the medieval period, ranging from a hoard of Bronze Age Axes, Iron Age hoards of gold coins, Roman hoards of hundreds of coins, to a hoard of coins of Charles I and James I.  Explore the history of each hoard, find out how they were found, and consider why they were hidden and never retrieved.

Entry to West Berkshire Museum is free but donations are most welcomed.
Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am -4pm

Image: The Crow Down Hoard, Acquired 2006

More info here

Special Exhibition: Hoards