Useful Literature.


If you’re new to the realm of archaeological, anthropological and forensic sciences (AAFS), or are a student needing sturdy and reliable references, or wondering “what archaeology or anthropology textbooks to buy?”
On our ‘Useful Literature’ page you can find links to the full selection of the best textbooks – most of these have been suggested to me by my university Professors.

Here is a short-list of the most helpful student books for archaeology and anthropology:

Unusual-ology: 4,000-year-old Human Brain Discovered.

A ‘petrified’ 4,000-year-old brain has been discovered in the Bronze Age settlement of Seyitömer Höyük, Turkey. The brain was excavated inside a skull that was uncovered in an ancient burial ground.  But how did the brain become ‘petrified’ and well-preserved?


The ‘petrified’ brain found within a skull at the Bronze Age settlement of Seyitömer Höyük, Turkey. © Halic University Istanbul.

Meriç Altinoz, from the Haliç University in Istanbul, has theorised that due to how tectonically active the site is, an earthquake devastated the Bronze Age site. This earthquake would have flattened the settlement, burying everyone and starting a fire. The ancient burial ground shows evidence of the theorised fire due to the presence of charred skeletal remains and burnt wooden artefacts. This fire played a vital key in the preservation of the brain.  Due to the fire consuming a lot of the trapped oxygen within the rubble, the brain would have boiled in its own fluid. This boiling would have burned off the brain’s moisture preventing normal tissue decomposition.

But there is thought to be another factor to how it became so well preserved. The tissue of the brain was found to be full of magnesium, potassium and aluminium. These elements, when mixed with the fatty acids that are present in human tissue, make up adipocere, which effectively preserved the shape of the brain tissue.

This recent discovery of the oldest well-preserved brain tissue has opened up many new areas of study. Frank Rühli, of the Univerisity of Zurich in Switzerland, has noted that ‘the level of preservation in combination with the age is remarkable’ and in such cases could help understand ‘the history of neurological disorders’.


Altinoz, M. A., Ince, B. Sav, A., Dincer, A., Cengiz, S., Mercan, S., Yazici, Z., Bilgen. M.N. 2013. Human Brains Found In A Fire-Affected 4000-years Old Bronze Age Tumulus Layer Rich In Soil Alkalines and Boron in Kutahya, Western Anatolia. HOMO – Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 64. Available from here.

Barras, C. 2013. Human brain boiled in its skull lasted 4000 years. New Scientist. 2937, page 11. Available from here. 

Fossum, M. 2013. 4,000 Year Old Preserved Human Brain Found in Turkey. Web Pro News.

Click here to read more Unusual-ology posts!

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Porthkerry Country Park’s hidden archaeological secret.

Due to the weather being exceptionally hot and sunny whilst I’m still in Cardiff, I thought it would be a lovely time for a day trip to Porthkerry Country Park. I have visited Porthkerry Country Park many times in my life and only really noticed the immense viaduct that dominates the skyline, but today I found a hidden medieval gem within the woods surrounding the Country Park.


Porthkerry Country Park’s viaduct.

I found out that in Cliffwood resides a medieval Mill, dating back to the 13th century. The Mill, where they would process corn, is thought to have been built by the farming community within the ancient manor of Barry.


Computer model of the 13th century corn Mill. ©Cadw

The Mill was thought to have been a two-roomed structure with the inner room containing the machinery for the mill. The machinery would have been powered by an overshot waterwheel which was supplied from a small holding pond above the mill. The water that filled the pond was fed with water from a leat, a hand-cut channel, diverted from Barry Brook opposite from the Nightingale cottage. It is estimated that the leat is roughly 500 metres long, with evidence still remaining of its vast length. There is also archaeological evidence that the Mill was abandoned sometime in the 14th century after a fire.


The Mill hidden amongst Porthkerry’s Cliffwood.


Current day remains of the 13th century corn Mill.

I absolutely love stumbling upon any hidden archaeological gem but today’s medieval mill in one of South Wales’ most beautiful country parks was purely found by chance. Porthkerry Country park not only has a medieval Mill within it’s grounds, the beach also has an amazing cliff where you can really see the different layers making up the stratigraphy.


The cliffs to the left of the Porthkerry pebble beach, showing the different stratification layers.