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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Staff

Ms Floor Huisman

(email at f.j.huisman@durham.ac.uk)

Biography

I completed my BA in Ancient History and Archaeology at Durham University (2011) and hold an MPhil in European Prehistory from the University of Cambridge (2012). I worked as an assistant curator in the archaeology department of the Drents Museum (Assen, the Netherlands), before starting an AHRC-funded PhD project on the later prehistoric East Anglian Fens in October 2014.

Research project

I recently completed my PhD project, in which I contextualised later prehistoric (c. 4000 BC-150 AD) wetland sites and communities in the East Anglian Fens (UK). I examined how wetland(er)s fit in the wider socio-cultural and physical landscape by considering past human-environment interaction through comparing food remains in different environments through time. Taking the data of several important later prehistoric sites in and around the East Anglian Fenlands as a starting point I study if, how and why later prehistoric wetland settlement and communities differed from their dryland contemporaries, how they related and to what extent they interacted. 

Unlike many earlier projects, which often focus on individual wetland sites or areas, this study used a large scale, broad comparative approach, which encompasses both wetland and dryland sites and areas. The objective was to compare food remains across a variety of wet and dry environments in different periods. A range of domestic and wild plants and animals from later prehistoric wetland, ‘dryland’ and 'intermediate' (fen edge) sites in and around the former East Anglian Fens were compared through time. This provided an insight into the relationship between people and the dynamic landscapes and environments they inhabited (or human-environment interaction) as well as the interaction between different (groups of) people.

By analysing the presence and absence of different food types in the three environments over time, I found that people's interaction with the increasingly wet Fens changed over time. Five distinct periods of wetland use could be distinguished, in which the Fens seem to come into and go out of focus at various points in time. The wetlands were clearly more attractive in some periods than in others. Using current theories and approaches from social and landscape archaeology, I then examined the social outcomes of people’s interaction with particular environments. I assessed how people’s identities were both constructed and maintained through such interactions and how these identities in turn may have affected their relation with other communities. I looked for the possible existence of a ‘wetland mentality’, identity and/or lifestyle to see whether wetlands were ‘special’ or unique in any way, or whether settlement and society here were simply wetter versions of their dryland contemporaries.

It became clear that wetland identities (e.g. hunter, fisher, fowler) are frequently held by drylanders exploiting the Fens, and therefore would not have impacted interactions between communities in and around the Fens much. Even in periods with a stronger wetland focus and more defined wetlander identities (e.g. the Late Bronze Age and Middle/Late Iron Age), wet and drylanders seem to have been closely related and/or interacting. Thus, the former Fens and its inhabitants were not isolated, but fully integrated within the wider socio-cultural landscape.

The research themes and questions I pursued in this research were:

1) Modern western dichotomies and their influence on our perception and understanding of past wetlands (When and where does the negative image of wetlands originate and how does this affect our research and understanding of past wetland(er)s?)

2) Human-environment relations and environmental change (How did people interact with the increasingly wet landscape of the East Anglian Fens in various periods? Why (not) live in a wet place?)

3) Identities and social interaction (How did the interaction with a wetland landscape affect people's identities? Did specific 'wetland identities' emerge over time, or were 'wetlanders' part of a larger social group? With whom did wetland people interact? What was the nature of this interaction?)

4) Scales and their integration (How do the above issues play out at different spatial (e.g. local, regional, interregional and (inter)national) and temporal (e.g. daily, seasonally, yearly, long-term) scales? Can we bridge them somehow?)

My main research interests include wetland landscapes and societies, social archaeology (with a focus on past people's identities and social relations) and human-environment interactions. I am also interested in bog bodies, material culture studies, mobility and foodways. Besides academic research, I have a keen interest in outreach, or sharing academic knowledge with a wider public (e.g. through lectures, publications or exhibitions).

Selected grants and bursaries

2018: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Placement Scheme Grant for a 2-month placement in the Moesgaard Museum, Aarhus, Denmark (January-February 2018).

2017: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Placement Scheme Grant for a 2-month placement in the British Museum, London (March-April 2017).

2016: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Placement Scheme Grant for a 7-week placement in the Drents Museum, Assen (the Netherlands) (July 2016).

2015: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Student Innovation Forum Grant (£7465) for organising a training course in digital illustration for postgraduates.

2015: Durham Centre for Academic Researcher Development (CARD) (£500) contribution to an interdisciplinary postgraduate conference on climate change and human society.

2015: Durham Institute for Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) Small Grant Scheme (£275) contribution to an interdisciplinary postgraduate conference on climate change and human society.

2015: Trevelyan College, Trevelyan Trust Travel Bursary (£310) for summer fieldwork in the East Anglian Fens.

2015: Durham University Department of Archaeology Research Dialogues funding scheme (£500) contribution to an interdisciplinary postgraduate conference on climate change and human society.

2014: AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership Scholarship covering tuition fees and full maintenance for three years.

Conference and workshop contributions

2019, "Wild wetlanders and civilised drylanders? The development of wetland worldviews and identities within the dynamic landscape of the former East Anglian Fens (UK)", paper presented at Floods – perceptions and protection along the medieval Upper Rhine workshop, 29 Janaury 2019, Heidelberg. 

2018, "Wetlands vs. Drylands? Challenging divides and changing archaeological perspectives on prehistoric wetland sites, landscapes and societies", paper presented at the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) Annual Meeting, 7th September 2018, Barcelona.

2018: "Wild wetlands and domestic drylands? Human-environment interaction in and around the later prehistoric East Anglian Fens (UK)", aper presented at the the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, Barcelona, 7 September 2018.

2017, "Wild wetlands and domestic drylands? Landscape use and environment exploitation in and around the later prehistoric East Anglian Fens", paper presented for the Prehistoric of Eurasia Lunchtime seminar series Durham Department of Archaeology, 28 November 2017, Durham.

2017: "Backwater economies? A foodway framework for examining wetland worldviews in the prehistoric past", paper presented at the Newcastle University Archaeology and Ancient History Postgraduate seminars, 22 November 2017, Newcastle.

2017: "Backwater economies? A foodway framework for examining wetland worldviews in the prehistoric past", paper presented at the the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, 1 September 2017, Maastricht.

2017: "Identities and resilience in the dynamic wetland environment of the East Anglian Fens (UK)", paper presented at the the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, 2 September 2017, Maastricht.

2017: "A Song of Ice, Water, Air and Fire.The preservation of organic remains in the archaeological record", seminar delivered within the Student Archaeology Workshop series, Department of Archaeology, 23 January 2017, Durham University.

2016: "Wet worlds in context–The Bronze Age pile dwelling of Must Farm in the East Anglian Fens (UK)", paper presented at the the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, 3 September 2016, Vilnius University.

2016: "Forging a Fenland framework: contextualising palaeoecology & environmental change in UK Fens & beyond", paper presented at the the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, 1 September 2016, Vilnius University.

2016: "Wild wetland(er)s and domesticated dryland(er)s? Contextualising wetlands through a study of human-environment relations and social interaction in the later prehistoric East Anglian Fens (UK)”, paper presented at the Wetland Archaeology Project 30th (WARP30) Anniversary Meeting, 29 June, University of Bradford.

2016: "Misreading the marshes: past and present perceptions of wetlands in north-western Europe", paper presented at the Graduate Archaeology at Oxford (GAO) conference, 13 March 2016, Oxford University.

2015: "Prehistoric highways: rivers as roads in prehistoric East Anglia", paper presented at the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, 4 September 2015, Glasgow University.

2015: "Mobility in the marshes: social outcomes of travel through time and space in the prehistoric East Anglian Fens", poster presented at the European Assocciation of Archaeology (EAA) Annual Meeting, 4 September 2015, Glasgow University.

2015: “Archaeology and the Anthropocene – Climate change, risk and resilience in the prehistoric North Sea Basin”, paper presented at the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience (IHRR) Postgraduate Forum ‘Risk and the Anthropocene’ 5 March, Durham University.

2015: "Thinking about theory in Archaeology", seminar delivered within the Student Archaeology Workshop series, Department of Archaeology, 2 March, Durham University.

2015: "Archaeology as a political instrument", seminar delivered within the Student Archaeology Workshop series, Department of Archaeology, 23 February, Durham University.

Conference organisation

2018: Co-organiser (with Goce Naumov) of the session 'Wetlands vs. Drylands? Challenging divides and changing archaeological perspectives on prehistoric wetland sites, landscapes and societies,' at the European Association of Archaeologists' annual meeting, 7 September 2018, Barcelona.

2015: Organiser of the interdisciplinary postgraduate conference 'Climate Change and Human Society: Resilience, Impact and Perceptions in the Past and Present', 4-5 December 2015, Durham University.

https://www.dur.ac.uk/archaeology/conferences/current/climatechange/

http://climatechangeandhu.wix.com/strip-header-layout

2015: Co-organisor of TAG 2015 session on "Politcal agendas and sponsorship in Archaeology".

Public outreach

2018: Lecture for members of the Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society (Leeds) on "Axes and ingots. Two Late Bronze Age hoards from the Yorkshire Wolds" (March 2018).

2017: Lecture for Antioch Archaeology Group (Durham) on "Wild wetlands and domestic drylands? Human-environment interaction and landscape use in and around the later prehistoric East Anglian Fens" (November 2017)

2016: Lecture for Antioch Archaeology Group (Durham) on “Wet worlds in context – The Bronze Age pile dwelling settlement of Must Farm in the East Anglian Fens (UK)” (December 2016)

2015: Lecture for Antioch Archaeology Group (Durham) on “Bogs, bog bodies and bog finds; the multiple meanings of bogs in prehistory” (February 2015)

Projects and Placements

2-month AHRC-funded placement at the Moesgaard Museum (Aarhus, Denmakr) (January-February 2018)

2-month AHRC-funded placement at the British Museum (March-April 2017)

7-week AHRC-funded placement at the Drents Museum (Assen, the Netherlands) (July-August 2016)

Co-organiser of the Northern Bridge Digital Illustration Training Course for postgraduates (Newcastle University, 2015-2016)

Research Interests

  • Wetland Archaeology, Social Relations and Identity

Teaching Areas

  • Co-taught a one hour workshop for a Student Archaeology Workshop (SAW) session on "Archaeology as a political instrument" (February 2015)

  • Co-taught a one hour workshop for a Student Archaeology Workshop (SAW) session on "Thinking about Archaeology (Archaeological theory)" (March 2015)

  • Taught a one hour workshop for a Student Archaeology Workshop (SAW) session on "The preservation of organic remains in the archaeological record" (January 2017)

  • Tutor for undergraduate module 'Archaeology in Action' (2015-2017)

    (4 hours/year.)
  • Tutor for undergraduate module 'Discovering World Prehistory' (2015-2017)

    (12 hours/year.)

Publications

Conference Paper

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

Is supervised by