School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Chloe Duckworth

Lecturer, Archaeological Materials Science

Background

Degree Programme Director for Archaeology

After graduating with my PhD from the University of Nottingham - and graduating into parenthood a few days later - I took a little time out, before returning to work. I went through some time in precarious employment as an adjunct lecturer, and then as a full-time research associate on the ERC-funded Trans-SAHARA Project. In 2015, I was awarded a British Academy postdoctoral fellowship for a project investigating Roman and medieval glass recycling in the Mediterranean. 

In that time, I also developed several research strands investigating archaeological evidence for glass production in medieval Islamic Spain. I have been lucky enough to direct fieldwork at two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain: The Alhambra, and Madinat al-Zahra. 

I came to Newcastle University in 2016, and enjoy teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students about pyrotechnologies, experimental archaeology, recycling, and the archaeology of Medieval Spain. From 2018 I have also been the degree programme director for Newcastle University's undergraduate archaeology degrees. 

My research is fundamentally interdisciplinary, and I'm excited by too many things to list here, but they include: archaeological science, the history of glass, Islamic Spain, experimental archaeology, the philosophy of science and technology, and the archaeology of pyrotechnology and industrial production (I like fire). 

I'm also a human being who enjoys hiking, and teaching myself to play musical instruments (most recently, I've started learning to play the theremin). 


External Appointments and Honours 


Current PhD Students

  • Victoria Lucas, "Looking through the glass: glass chemistry as a window on Anglo-Saxon innovation, recycling, trade and contact, AD 700-1000"
  • Eleonora Montanari, "Gendered stories: constructing identities through glass beads in Iron Age Italy and Iberia"
  • Jose Alberto Retamosa "El vidrio en la industria conservera romana: analisis arqueologico y arqueometrico de las cetariae de Baelo claudia e Iulia Traducta" (Co-supervisor: Dario Bernal Casasola, Universidad de Cadiz)

Gendered Stories: Constructing identities through glass beads

in

Iron Age Italy

and

Iberia

Teaching

You Are What You Make 

Ever wondered whether you would survive a zombie apocalypse? Or why we imagine invention as something practised by lone, male, mad inventors? This module explores - and helps you to learn - the skills and techniques humans have used for millennia to control, manipulate, and construct the world around us. 

In practical classes, you will knap flint, make your own glass beads, and learn to smelt metal from its ores. In lectures, we will explore the methods used to reconstruct ancient technologies, and look at the 'how' and the 'why' of human invention. You'll never look at the world in the same way again. 

Stuff: Living In A Material World 

Why do you love your new phone? Why do we 'style' our homes? Why do we care when some things are broken? What can you tell about a person from their shoes, their car, or even their evening meal? This module aims to introduce students to ideas about people and their things. It is concerned with one of the most fundamental parts of our lives: our stuff

We will consider why, and how, people use things in their lives, why we so rarely talk about it, and the power that our stuff can exert over us. 

Cold Case: Archaeological Science 

From 2020, students will have the opportunity to study archaeological science in this brand new module, by exploring ten high profile archaeological case studies from around the world, from Inca child mummies, to shipwrecks, to ancient DNA and Richard III. 

The module will provide you with the chance to learn about the scientific techniques used to investigate archaeological discoveries, to examine and critique the way they have been reported in the media, and to design materials that would help to educate school children about archaeology. 

The Archaeology of Medieval Iberia 

My research on the archaeology of medieval Spain includes an active programme of fieldwork, with opportunities to work at the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain and the buried 10th century city of Madinat al-Zahra, Cordoba. Students have found themselves featuring on the front pages of Spanish newspapers

Research

I have many and diverse research interests, but they mostly centre around the archaeology and history of glass, the human relationship to technology, and generally just doing things a bit differently (new research methods and tools; interdisciplinary collaboration). 

For my PhD, I combined cutting edge science with archaeological theory to investigate why people first invented glass, and the links between technological knowledge and the maintenance of real and ideological power. I have worked to foster research networks around technological innovation in the Sahara Desert, and recycling practice in Roman and medieval glass production. 

My research on glass production in medieval Spain has blossomed into several separate, but related strands, involving an exciting, dynamic group of researchers based in the UK and Spain. I am the PI of the Madinat al-Zahra Survey Project (funded by the Society of Antiquaries, and the British Academy), which uses innovative survey methodologies to reconstruct the buried city that was the tenth century capital of the Umayyad caliphate at this UNESCO World Heritage site. I have previously co-directed excavation and chemical survey at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain (another World Heritage site). 

The members of my research network and I are currently applying as many different approaches as we can to the question of who made glass, and how, in medieval Spain; everything from the use of historical archives (for which I was recently awarded a Humboldt Yale History Network Grant), or the experimental reconstruction of medieval glassmaking recipes (with historian Javier Lopez Rider), to a comprehensive survey of medieval glass in southern Spanish museums (conducted by Almudena Velo Gala), and a full-scale programme of chemical analysis, building a database of over 500 samples (analysis conducted at British Geological Survey). 

Along with David Govantes-Edwards, I have developed a network of researchers investigating the politics and archaeology of Islamic(ate) cultural heritage in Europe, who meet annually at the EAA conference in September. Several of them have contributed to a forthcoming book that will be unique in dealing with this complex subject and the many different ways in which it is manifested in countries ranging from Spain, to Greece, to Russia. 

I'm endlessly fascinated by the way archaeology is presented to the public, and how members of the public can also influence professionals and academics, a process I actively engage in via my YouTube channel

Publications