It’s not every day that you get to peek into an archaeologist’s lab and watch as they examine a pair of very delicate Bronze Age artefacts, but today you can…

What happens to artefacts once they’ve been excavated? How does it feel to closely examine a mysterious and delicate object from the past? DigVentures has decided to reveal all! Today we set a camera loose in the lab, livestreaming exactly what happened as two talented experts faced the challenge of cleaning up and recovering as much information as they could about a pair of Bronze Age artefacts our team had recovered during our crowdfunded Barrowed Time excavation in Lancashire.

The two artefacts in question represent a phenomenon unique to Bronze Age Britain, a period when people often cremated their dead, gathered them up into special urns and buried them in burial mounds (or barrows), often along with a small ceramic cup.

Around 800 of these cups have been found, and they show up in approximately 16% (or 1 in 6) barrow burials, but we still don’t quite know what they were for.

Watch the videos below for a blow-by-blow account of how osteologist Sam Walsh set about investigating the cremation urn we found, while pottery specialist Claire Copper tries to decipher the meaning of the strange little cup it was buried with… all in all, it’s better than a Netflix box set!

Part 1 – The Artefacts

Welcome to DigVentures HQ! Maiya invites you to come inside and meet Sam and Lisa, who are taking a look at the cremation urn, and the little cup that it was buried with, 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age. Then Claire arrives to kick off investigation of the cup.

Part 2 – Finding Out What’s Inside

Claire is an expert on these little cups – they’re a unique British Bronze Age phenomenon, and archaeologists are still debating what they were for. Claire has some answers.

Part 3 – An Experiment In The Kitchen

Maiya and Michael have been experimenting in the kitchen to see if they can figure out what the little cups were for. Meanwhile upstairs, Sam finds a surprise waiting for her at the bottom of the urn!

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Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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