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Thames Discovery Programme Research Framework

Thames Discovery Programme Research Framework

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Thames Discovery Programme on Mar 14, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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London’s ‘longest’ archaeological site is still a largely untapped resource with newdiscoveries being revealed by the dynamic riverine regime, and the discoveries of previous investigations awaiting further assessment, analysis and publication. Thispresent document has been produced to outline avenues of research for thearchaeological study of the River Thames foreshore within the Greater London area. Itaims to provide guidance regarding thematic studies, and is arranged to encompass awide range of potential research interests from methods and techniques, geology andtopography, and cultural heritage. It is presented as a series of ‘research questions’which we hope will inspire interdisciplinary research, collaboration and dissemination.The document is divided into the following sections:
Part 1: Previous InvestigationsPart 2: The Physical ThamesPart 3: Liquid History
This Research Framework has also been designed to encourage contribution to the
project; a community research initiative supported by the PublicEngagement Unit at University College London.Nathalie CohenTeam Leader, Thames Discovery ProgrammeMarch 2010
Part 1:
Previous Investigations
The Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) follows in the footsteps of a large number of distinguishedantiquarians, collectors, archaeologists and historians. Understanding the context of this research is animportant aspect of assessing our current knowledge of the Thames and its use. We need to assess boththe ideas previous scholars have had about the Thames and the records that they produced of thearchaeology of the foreshore. As the TDP provides a high-precision base-line survey of selected areas of the foreshore, river wall and related structures, features and finds scatters at a known date, we can thencompare and contrast the results with both earlier and later surveys, noting the changes.
Research Questions:1.1
What plans exist of the archaeology of the Thames foreshore, and can these be compared /contrasted with the current Thames Discovery programme of recording?
What can we learn through studying the artefact collections of Thomas Layton, CharlesRoach Smith, GF Lawrence and others, such as the Society of Thames Mudlarks and theThames and Field Metal Detecting Society?
How can we use the data collected by the Portable Antiquities Scheme?
What records survive from foreshore investigations undertaken by Sir Mortimer Wheelerand Ivor Noel Hume?
What can we learn from the archives of local archaeological and historical societies, such asthe Wandsworth Historical Society, the Richmond Archaeological Society and the City of London Archaeological Society, among many others?
How far did the Thames Archaeological Survey achieve their aims of systematicallyrecording the foreshore, and raising the profile of inter-tidal archaeology?
What new methodologies and techniques were developed by commercial archaeologicalunits working on the foreshore?
Foreshore survey, 1949, by Ivor Noel Hume
Part 2: The Physical Thames
The TDP seeks to increase our understanding of the physical evolution of the Thames through the last10,000 years, as well as explore some of the strategies adopted by humans in relation to changes in theenvironment and climate. The rate of erosion of the Thames estuary coast by stormy seas, and of coastaland inland features by landslips and wind action, are significantly affected by climatic variation. Ourforeshore survey produces data of direct relevance to issues of environmental change, such as assessingchanges in prevailing winds and wind direction, ocean currents, prevailing sea temperatures, theoccurrence of ice on rivers, lakes and seas, river levels and river mechanics. Specific questions we hope toaddress are:
Research questions:2.1
Where was the tidal head of the Thames at different times?
What was the shape of the riverbank at different times in the past? What is the size of thefloodplain, or inter-tidal zone? Where are the islands of the Thames today, and where mightthey have been in the past?
What was the evolution of the Thames drainage system at different times? Where were thetributaries of the Thames? When were different tributaries buried / canalised?
What is the change in river-levels? What is the evidence for the tidal range; the high andlow tides at different times? Is there evidence for rises and falls in the relative river levelthrough time?
What is the stratigraphic sequence of the Thames foreshore? Can we map the evidence forclay, silt and peat to determine the horizontal sequences of deposition and erosion? Wherewere the marshes, beaches, woodlands and meadows of the Thames?
What is the impact of infrastructure development such as embanking, bridge and pontoonconstruction on the river mechanics?
What could assessment of geological samples from the foreshore tell us?
What is the evidence for flood events?
Satellite view of the Thames

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