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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Archaeologists 'excavate' old van
The team goes over the van with a fine tooth comb
Project leader Cassie Newland says it is an exercise in methodology
Archaeologists are "excavating" an old transit van to help refine techniques used in studying modern artefacts.

The team at Bristol University is examining the van's contents, bodywork and engine and recording an oral history of the people who have used it.

A forensic scientist is also taking part in the "van dig". Police are increasingly using archaeological techniques for forensic investigations.

"It's an exercise in methodology," said project leader Cassie Newland.

"Contemporary archaeology is about how you can reconstruct stories behind modern things, the same way you do about old things."

It was once used as a diving board, you can see where the roof is squashed down.
Cassie Newland, project leader

The van belonged to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire for more than 15 years where it was used by staff on site visits to archaeological sites.

"We've found 17th century slipware pottery and a silver Victorian threepenny bit," said Ms Newland.

"But we've also discovered pet hair from dogs, confetti and kids toys.

"And it was once used as a diving board, you can see where the roof is squashed down. Apparently there was a party and the van was parked near a bouncy castle and people were leaping off it."

Dr Mark Horton Head of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology said: "This is an innovative project that brings archaeology really up to date.

"We hope we will find all sorts of evidence about the history of the van which will be confirmed by people's recollections."

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