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Conference - Sustaining the Impact of UK Science and Heritage Research - Register Now!

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Registration for the Science and Heritage Programme's 2-day landmark conference is now open.

Science and Heritage Programme Director Awarded 2012 Plowden Medal

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Cassar Plowden 2012

Professor May Cassar ACR FIIC FRSA FSA has been awarded the 2012 Plowden Medal.

The medal was presented to Professor Cassar by HRH The Duke of Gloucester at the Association’s annual luncheon on 6 June.

Research Officer post - University of Bath

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Research Officer - fixed term contract
Architecture & Civil Engineering
Salary:   Starting from £30,122, rising to £31,948
Closing Date:   Tuesday 29 May 2012
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  BB1019

The position advertised is for a Post Doc Research Officer to work for 1 year fixed term on a 3 year Research Council funded project. The PARNASSUS project is a multidisciplinary collaborative project funded under the Science & Heritage programme jointly by the Arts and Humanities (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Councils (EPSRC).

British Science Association Media Fellowships Scheme 2012 - Applications now open

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The British Science Association runs an annual Media Fellowship scheme for scientists, social scientists, engineers and clinicians to spend the summer working with national news journalists to improve their communication skills and media awareness.

This is a fantastic opportunity for researchers at any stage of their career to spend 3-8 weeks working with print, TV and radio hosts including the BBC, Guardian, Nature and the Times to produce accurate, well-informed stories about developments in science, and to work alongside the UK’s top science editors in the British Science Festival Press Centre, returning to work with media confidence, contacts, and first-class communication skills.

The BSA welcomes applications from researchers at all stages of their career from universities, institutes and industry across the UK. For more information on eligibility criteria and experiences from past Media Fellows and to apply online, go to The closing date for applications is 11 March 2012.

The BSA Media Fellowships Scheme is sponsored by RCUK, Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, STFC and the IET.

House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Science and Heritage follow up

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In 2006, the Lords Science and Technology Committee published a report entitled Science and Heritage, 9th report of session 2005-06, HL Paper 256. An update was published in October 2007 (8th report of session 2006-7, HL Paper 168).

Cultural and academic institutions welcome the creation of the National Heritage Science Forum

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*Press Release*

The setting up the National Heritage Science Forum has been welcomed by cultural and academic institutions across the UK. This membership organisation will enable institutions to:

Protection of Europe’s cultural legacy receives significant boost in Rome today

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23rd September, 2011.

European efforts to coordinate activities to protect its cultural heritage took a significant step forward with the launch in Rome today of the Heritage Portal. The portal, a freely accessible online resource for anyone interested in European cultural heritage science, will bring the insights of scientific and technological research across Europe to bear on the enormous challenges of protecting European cultural heritage.
With preservation of Europe’s cultural legacy a key policy priority, the portal will support wider efforts at coordination between European countries to encourage protection of Europe’s cultural heritage in EU legislation and influence global efforts in this area. 

National Heritage Science Forum Coordinator post

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The Centre for Sustainable Heritage at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, UCL is seeking to appoint a part-time (50%) Coordinator for the National Heritage Science Forum, with the support of the AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme. The postholder will be responsible for establishing the secretariat of the National Heritage Science Forum with the major task being to elicit funding for the future of the Forum.

Seeing Beneath the Soil to Uncover the Past

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AHRC Press Release 12th September 2011

Archaeology is no longer just about digging holes. New research, undertaken by a team led by the University of Leeds as part of the co-funded Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)/ Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Science Heritage research programme, should revolutionise the effective use of ‘state-of-the-art’ remote sensing technology such that aerial detection of archaeological sites will increase dramatically without physically disturbing cultural heritage sites.

Dr Ant Beck, research fellow at Leeds and a key member of the Detection of Archaeological Residues using remote sensing Techniques (DART) project has said that ‘Our research findings are leading to an improved understanding of detection techniques and in the future our work will enable successful remote sensing surveys to take place in landscapes where at present the physical and environmental factors have been difficult to say the least. This work will transform archaeology by allowing archaeologists a better view of the archaeological residues under the soil without disturbing, and potentially damaging, sites of specific interest.”
Initial work has been taking place in Cambridgeshire this year and although it is still at an early stage, initial analysis confirms the hyperspectral images have revealed more and different information than the comparison aerial photographic image.
Hyperspectral imaging collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. Much as the human eye sees visible light in three bands (red, green, and blue), spectral imaging divides the spectrum into many more bands, including into the invisible.

Use of wavelengths outside the visible spectrum offer immense potential for archaeological prospection. Initial research has shown that the Near Infra-red region provides the greatest contrast and allows for improved detection of archaeology. The contrast is greater in particular wavebands/lengths (for example at 1156nm which is attributable to lignin in the leaf). This is due to both spectral sensitivity (being able to see the wavelength) and spectral resolution (being able to observe a small enough part of the wavelength to capture the contrast). Dr Ant Beck said ‘This is very encouraging. Further analysis should allow us to pinpoint the links between archaeological features, environmental dynamics and crop type leading to improved detection in, what have traditionally been considered, marginal landscapes’.
Aerial prospection has already located more ‘sites’ than any other technique in the realms of archaeology but this research project will lead to more effective ways of using remote sensing and will improve the future management and curation of archaeological sites.

The challenge to date has been that existing remote sensing techniques have had to cope with the vast differences in the physical, chemical, biological and environmental processes involved in the landscape. This has meant that current detection techniques can be ineffective due to the physical and environmental factors on specific sites and landscapes.

By collaborating with a range of scientific disciplines (geotechnical, remote sensing, plant biology, computer vision) to improve the way we observe and detect buried, and therefore invisible, archaeology the research team are creating a wealth of experience and expertise which will allow archaeologists to use state-of-the-art aerial imaging sensors to detect archaeology that has never been found before.
The Director of the UK AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme, Professor May Cassar, said ‘The DART project epitomises the strides in interdisciplinary research taking place in heritage science today as a result of funding from the AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Programme.  The excitement of this project is due to the exploration and discovery of a new world through the detection of archaeological residues using remote sensing techniques.  Without having to turn over a single spade of earth and without disturbing the archaeological record, the wealth of our archaeological past is being revealed.’

The project is Open Science: this means that, where practicable, all science objects (data, algorithms, illustrations etc.) will be made openly available for public re-use and exploitation. By openly sharing journal articles, data, code, online software tools, questions, ideas, and speculations we can open up the scientific process. This has the potential to revolutionise the research process and the way we engage with peers, policymakers and the public.

Dr Ant Beck can be contacted at
AHRC Media contact: Jake Gilmore, Communications Manager, 01793 416021;

Notes to Editors:
Presentation at the British Science Festival
Anthony Beck will be giving a presentation between 13:00 and 15:15 on Monday 12th September in the Exploring New Archaeological Worlds session.

DART: A major new investigation into what lies beneath our soils: Detection of Archaeological Residues using remote sensing Techniques (DART) is a three year, £815,000 Science and Heritage funded initiative led by the School of Computing at the University of Leeds. The Science and Heritage programme is funded jointly by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). To examine the complex problem of heritage detection DART has attracted a consortium consisting of 25 key heritage and industry organisations and academic consultants and researchers from the areas of computer vision, geophysics, remote sensing, knowledge engineering and soil science.
Enhanced knowledge of archaeological residues is important for the long-term curation and understanding of a diminishing heritage. There are certain geologies and soils which can complicate the collection and interpretation of heritage remote sensing data. In some of these ‘difficult’ areas traditional detection techniques have been unresponsive. DART will develop a deeper understanding of the contrast factors and detection dynamics within ‘difficult’ areas. This will allow the identification of appropriate sensors and conditions for feature detection. The successful detection of features in ‘difficult’ areas will provide a more complete understanding of the heritage resource which will impact on research, management and development control.

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes hundreds of research awards ranging from individual fellowships to major collaborative projects as well as over 1,100 studentship awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

UK Science & Heritage Research Programme: Funded for five years by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) the Science and Heritage Programme was established in order to take forward recommendations made by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on Science and Heritage. The Programme draws on a range of disciplinary expertise and resources in order to transform the ways in which changes to our cultural heritage and its conservation are understood.  One of the aims of the programme is to develop the research community by building capacity and supporting new researchers. The programme is led by Programme Director, Professor May Cassar of UCL. Professor Cassar leads on the programmes development, external coordination and outreach as well as on extensive networking with the national and international research community including non-academic sectors. In addition she is also establishing the base line level of funding across all the research councils and developing a comprehensive map of recent and current research and training activity in heritage science.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): EPSRC is one of the seven UK Research Councils principally funded through the Government’s science budget which is administered by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). EPSRC is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences and invests around £850m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

ICOM and the Blue Shield take action in North Africa

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Several movements for democratic change have taken place over the past few months in the region of North Africa. Some of the resulting events or conflict situations, in particular in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, have had a serious impact on the region's rich cultural heritage. Both ICOM and the Blue Shield have expressed their concern and emphasised the need to safeguard the invaluable cultural heritage in this region amidst existing turmoil. Vandalism, looting and resulting illicit trafficking in cultural objects are all major points of concern.

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