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Saturday 12th December 2020 – BAS Lecture: talks by members

The Stone of Life: Grain Processing in Jordan

by Alison McQuitty

Using a saddle quern

This talk is based on both fieldwork carried out in Jordan from the early 80s onwards as well as a presentation given by myself and my colleague, Holly Parton, at The International Molinological Society conference held in Berlin last year. The history and archaeology of grain processing is traced from the Bronze Age (starting c.3,300 BC) though to the mid-20th century AD. The first examples of grinding used hand-operated querns which then developed into animal-operated mills. In Jordan by the 16th century AD and arguably earlier, water-mills became a common sight in the deeply-cut valleys with seasonal water flow (wadi) that drained westwards into the Jordan Valley. Indeed such mills were and are a common sight throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. By the mid-20th century these water-mills were largely replaced by diesel mills.

The images accompanying the talk will illustrate the different types of mill as well as posing suggestions about their relative efficiency. 

Alison McQuitty is an archaeologist who has worked on projects in England, Jordan and Syria with a particular interest in the post-mediaeval period, ethno-archaeology and vernacular architecture. Alison became the first Director of the Council for British Research in the Levant. Her subsequent experience ranges from leading the refurbishment of a local Jordanian museum to lecturing on heritage management and organising bespoke tours to the Middle East and North Africa. Alison is co-director of the Khirbat Faris Project. She has lectured and published extensively about archaeology in Jordan and most recently co-authored Khirbat Faris: Rural Settlement, Continuity and Change in Southern Jordan.

Adventures in Egypt

by Beth Asbury

The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The Egyptian Antiquities Service was established in 1859, attached to the Ministry of Public Works. In 1994 it became the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), chaired by the Minister of Culture. In 2002, Dr Zahi Hawass became the Secretary General of the SCA after several years as the Director of the monuments at Giza. A controversial figure, but one who has had an undeniable impact on Egyptology, change threatened on 28 January 2011 when the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square was broken into. Beth Asbury, who was one of Dr Zahi’s assistants at the time, will share some of her stories from before and after the Egyptian Revolution.

Beth Asbury is the Assistant Archaeologist (HER and Outreach) for West Berkshire Council. She previously worked for the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (2004-2010), as a tutor at the University of Reading’s School of Continuing Education (2005-09) and for the Ministry of State for Antiquities in Cairo (2010-11). When she moved back to the UK, Beth worked at the Pitt Rivers Museum (2011-17) and Ashmolean Museum (2018). Beth is the Berkshire representative for the CBA Wessex group and on the Committee of the Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society.

Archaeology in schools

by Maggie Smith

Model of an Iron Age round house

Should we be doing more to encourage young people to engage with archaeology? If so, how can we do this? This short talk will look at the current educational scene in schools to consider where there are opportunities, or how opportunities might be made, for archaeology to contribute to pupils’ learning and experiences.

Maggie Smith has spent most of her career in education – initially as a teacher in secondary schools, and then training teachers and carrying out research within education faculties in universities. She currently works with Masters and Doctoral students at Reading University and the Open University.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the above will be conducted on Zoom.  Details of how to join the lectures, which will commence as usual at 2.30pm, will be communicated nearer the time

Non-members are welcome to attend the Society’s lectures which are currently taking place on Zoom.  There is no charge for this. Places can be requested by emailing lectures(at) a minimum of 3 working days beforehand (i.e. the Wednesday before the lecture at the absolute latest)

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Wednesday 2nd December 2020 – BAS Study Group

Roman Abingdon – an introduction by Tim Lloyd

Berkshire Archaeological Society, 150 years of contributing to Berkshire’s archaeology – a review of the exhibition posters for the Society 150 anniversary celebrations by Andrew Hutt

This will be conducted on Zoom starting at 3pm. Regular participants will receive an email with login details. anyone else wishing to join should contact Andrew Hutt on andrew_hutt(at)

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Marlow Warlord crowdfunding appeal

Some of you will be aware from recent coverage in the local press of the discovery this summer of the ‘Marlow Warlord’ a 6th century sentinel burial on a site above the Thames by a team from the University of Reading led by Dr Gabor Thomas, assistant professor of archaeology and an early medieval specialist.

Gabor is due to give the Society a lecture on this subject in February 2021, although, evidently, we had to be a bit cagey about the title when this was agreed at the end of August!

In the meantime, he is trying to raise £7,000 through crowdfunding for finds conservation work and analysis, which will develop the story.  

Here is Gabor’s message to the Society on 10th October: 

‘I hope that you caught the press coverage of the Marlow Warlord last week.  It was rather a media storm in the end, one which I think really helped to put the archaeology of our local area on the map – I was able to clarify in radio interviews that the burial was found on the Berkshire side of the river!

Please consider donating to this project. Our crowdfunding page is:

If we achieve our total and the planned analysis and conservation does ahead, then it will be possible to generate a long, lasting legacy for this remarkable Berkshire discovery.  My talk to members next year will also be correspondingly richer in content and interpretation.’

BAJ085 published

Berkshire Archaeological Journal volume 85 has been published. It will shortly be distributed to all members and subscribers.

Others can purchase a copy by emailing journal(at)

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This is a special issue as it marks a collaboration with Cotswold Archchaeology. All articles are reports from excavations that they have conducted in and around Berkshire in the last 3 years.

Front cover


Foreword by Richard Massey

An Early Roman Site at Beech Hill Road, Spencers Wood, Berkshire by Richard Massey and Grace Perpetua Jones, with Adam Howard

Roman, medieval and post-medieval settlement at Cutbush Lane, Shinfield, Berkshire by Richard Massey and Joe Whelan

An Early Roman enclosed settlement at Kentwood Farm, Wokingham by Richard Massey and Joe Whelan

Iron Age and medieval features at Keephatch, Beech Lane, Wokingham by Jacek Gruszczynski and Matt Nichol.

Roman and medieval occupation at Shoppenhanger Manor, Maidenhead by Ray Kennedy and Richard Massey.


Berkshire Archaeological Society Events – from September 2020

Government advice is likely to remain that gatherings are not permitted or advised.  We are, therefore, planning to hold all BAS activities from September on Zoom.

See the events page for a list of monthly lectures. Synopses will be posted separately when available.

Members attending meetings on Zoom will be advised of meeting joining instructions beforehand. Not all Study Group meetings are listed as they are usually confirmed the week before.

from Julie Worsfold, BAS Lectures and Day School Organiser & Chair Communications Working Group

Image (think of it as geofizz!): This scanning electron microscope image shows COVID-19 virus (yellow), also known as 2019-nCoV and SARS-CoV-2, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab. Image credit: NIAID-RML / CC BY 2.0.