image/svg+xml219XI/2/2020INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euA look at the regionFrom Amélieto Terrascope: Creation, Development, Struggle and Re-birth of a Small French Independent Archaeological LaboratorySabrina Savea*, Joseph KovacikaaAmélie, études environnementales & archéologiques/Terrascope Thin Section Slides, 120 boulevard Blanqui, 10000 Troyes, France1. IntroductionBased in Troyes, France, in the southern Champagne region, the laboratories named Amélieand Terrascopeare the two heads of the same entity created in May 2007 by Joseph Kovacik and Sabrina Save. While Amélieconstitutes the historical institution dedicated to palaeo-environmental and archaeometric analysis, Terrascopeis a recent addition exclusively dedicated to the manufacturing of micromorphological thin sections. Fully private and independent, these two labs were conceived around an unconventional way of thinking about archaeology, commercial archaeology and archaeological research: be an actor of the world archaeological community – do innovative, sustainable research with people we like – all within a commercial context. The philosophy and development of the company is deeply linked to the personality and personal history of its creators and directors, Joseph and Sabrina. In this paper, we want to share with you our personal history and the history of our company, and cast light on what we think it means to be an independent archaeologist, how to be innovative and conduct advanced research in a non-academic environment, and how to build and maintain a successful business by always being ready to reinvent oneself.2. Creation of Amélie2.1 Portraits2.1.1 Joseph James KovacikBorn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Joseph is the oldest son of a carpenter and home-maker, and had a typical 1970s upbringing meaning lots of mucking about, mostly unsupervised (swimming at the pond with friends and no adults, riding mini-bikes miles from home with friends and no adults). Average at school, although excellent in history and geography, the only thing important for his parents was for him to go to “University”. Starting in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and quickly failing, Joseph looked hard at what he was good at and what he wanted, a large part of which was not to pass his life inside a building. Rather than return to his long-time Volume XI ● Issue 2/2020 ● Pages 219–226*Corresponding author. E-mail: contact@terrascope-tss.comARTICLE INFOArticle history:Received: 9thSeptember 2020Accepted: 29thSeptember 2020DOI: words:palaeo-environmentpalaeo-pollutionpXRFthin sectiongeochemistryABSTRACTCreated in France in May 2007 by Joseph Kovacik and Sabrina Save, Amélieis a small independent laboratory, stafed and partnered with the best specialists in Europe, providing palaeo-environmental and archaeometric services to the French Archaeology community. During its 13 years of existence, Amélieand its owners have been through many hurdles and run fantastic projects, always trying to be forward-thinking and bring high-level research and academia into commercial archaeology, while ensuring the sustainability of the company. One example of their endeavour to innovate is the theoretical framework and methodology they developed to survey large mechanically-stripped archaeological surfaces with pXRF to investigate human impact on soil chemistry. In February 2018, while the future of Améliewas unclear due to three consecutive years of declining turnover, a short stay in Cambridge as visiting scholars re-focused Joseph and Sabrina, with them deciding to launch a new project: the creation of a new facility dedicated to the production of micromorphological thin sections, Terrascope. Since this Cambridge sabbatical, many exciting projects have emerged and reshaped the future of Amélie, Joseph, and Sabrina. This is their backstory.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2020 ● XI/2 ● 219–226Sabrina Save, Joseph Kovacik: From Amélie to Terrascope: Creation, Development, Struggle and Re-birth of a Small French Independent Archaeological Laboratory220passion for history (lots of time in buildings), Joseph fell into Anthropology, and particularly Archaeology. Enchanted by a series of inspiring professors and graduate students at UWM, Joseph started working for the UWM Archaeological Research Laboratory (geoarcheology coring of lake sediments in the middle of a Wisconsin winter), as well as for other university commercial feld units, museums, and the US Forest Service. Turning things around after his disastrous start (why-oh-why did he choose chemistry?), he found himself accepted into the Master’s programme at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. Again having good fortune and inspiring professors, he was awarded the Center for Archaeological Investigations graduate research assistant position, giving him the chance to work on both feld and laboratory projects throughout southern Illinois and the American Southwest (including archiving the remains of Lewis Binford’s frst archaeological excavation carried out for SIU; what great letters between Binford, the University and the communities in which the feldwork was being undertaken!). It was at SIU that he meets Robert Preucel (then a simple Post-doc), a meeting that changed his life forever, introducing him to both a diferent kind of archaeology (post-processualism) and also to Ian Hodder. Encouraged by Robert, Joseph applied to the University of Cambridge to study with Ian Hodder, and was accepted – it is a good thing he worked hard at SIU and was able to show that even students with a poor undergraduate grade-point average can make good in the right circumstances: the right motivation, good grades in the relevant classes, and a lot of feld experience. So of to Cambridge, where in addition to working on his thesis and participating in all that Cambridge has to ofer, he also began to work in France, in particular at the site of Vix, which became the starting point for another obsession: France.Following the completion of his thesis, Joseph returned to both the United States and to commercial archaeology, with the latter the true constant archaeological presence throughout his time as an archaeologist, helping to pay for his undergraduate education, and paying for his Master’s degree. Moving to Albuquerque (New Mexico), Joseph took up the position of Principal Investigator for a large civil engineering frm, directing archaeological investigations for them across the American Southwest. However, transformed by his Cambridge experience, he longed to return to the UK, and eventually secured a position as the London Director for one of the principal cultural resource frms there. Managing both small and large, urban and rural projects, and having the chance to direct an excellent team, as well as developing and directing a long-term research project in France, disagreements with the company owners prompted a change, leading to a similar position in the Republic of Ireland. More of the same – great projects, great team, great research project in France, less great bosses – led him to pose the question, why could not I be my own boss, work on great projects, with great people and do great research? And so, after more than 20 years working for others, and with the encouragement and support of a series of senior French archaeologists, and with one of his French colleagues (Sabrina) as a business partner, he decided to quit the UK and set up his own company, Amélie, in France.2.1.2 Sabrina SaveSabrina was born in December 1983 in Saudi Arabia, where her parents lived for two years (her father was teaching at the University of Petrol and Minerals of Dhahran). Returning to France at 6 months old, she never had the chance to see her birthplace again. After moving homes several times in the suburbs of Nantes, the whole family moved near to Aix-en-Provence in 1999. In 2001, she started University at Aix-Marseille University, initially wanting to combine Earth Sciences and Archaeology, something impossible in the French system as Hard and Social Sciences are totally separate, both administratively and physically (the campus of each are 50 km apart). Finally, she chose Archaeology, which was at the time linked to Art History (although not anymore). During her frst years she feels attracted to Middle East Archaeology (identity crisis?), but as very little Middle Eastern Archaeology courses were available at Aix-Marseille, she started studying, on the side, Semitic languages: Sumerian, Akkadian, Arameen, Arabic, Ugaritic, Hittite, and Moabite. For a moment, she thought about pursuing a Master’s in that discipline, but she liked feldwork too much to give up Archaeology for a pure desk job (she spends at least 3 months per year, the most she can, digging on research excavations – which is how she met Joseph in 2004); like so many female students, her own #metoo moment made the choice easier. She convinces her Archaeology professors to supervise her on a Master’s on some topic in the Middle East and fnally ends up doing her degree on Cyprus (that is the most “east” her supervisor would agree to go). She thinks about doing a PhD afterwards, but cannot fnd an appropriate laboratory in France for what she wants to do. Luckily a new commercial unit in Aix-en-Provence was just opening and they were looking for people for their frst rescue excavation. She applied and was recruited as site supervisor. It was during this period that Joseph contacted her and ofered her to be his business partner in Amélie. She thus resigned her position in Aix-en-Provence after 9 months and joined Joseph in Lorraine. She was then 23 years old.2.1.3 AmélieThe initial idea for Améliewas for it to gain an agreement issued by the French Ministry of Culture, allowing the company to carry out developer-funded excavations within France. After the frst unsuccessful attempt (in total we made three, unsuccessful, applications; the main criticism being our overtly Anglo-Saxon approach), and as an efort to start working and bolster our chances for future applications, we decided to start ofering palaeo-environmental services to the French developer-funded sector. We had been working for years, in England, Ireland, and France on research excavations, with a group of world-renowned specialists, all of whom were familiar with the constraints of commercial archaeology – research questions that are not your own,
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2020 ● XI/2 ● 219–226Sabrina Save, Joseph Kovacik: From Amélie to Terrascope: Creation, Development, Struggle and Re-birth of a Small French Independent Archaeological Laboratory221limited budgets and, of course, tight deadlines. Friends, colleagues, and even some enemies in French archaeology had all told us how difcult it was to fnd reliable specialist services while working on commercial projects. The professional contacts – throughout Europe and the United States – we had. We also knew what we wanted, whether doing excavations or specialist services: to work with the best people, people we liked, and do great archaeology.3. Development and Struggles3.1 Growth and innovationIt took several years for Amélieto establish a clientele and make a decent turnover from palaeo-environmental studies – and allow Sabrina and Joseph to receive a salary. From mid-2008 to early 2010, Joseph worked full time for a temping agency, doing night shifts in “agro-industry” (do not buy industrially-made brioche!), and building side walks (pavements) and roundabouts during the day. Sabrina also worked occasional night shifts in a lemonade factory or in the lab of a factory turning liquids into powder. In March 2010, Joseph was recruited as the regional director (Grand Est) for a young commercial excavation company, Eveha, a role he still holds today (again working for others, but c’est la vie!). From 2011 to 2015, Amélie’s turnover continued to grow with Sabrina working full time (paid!) to help French archaeologists investigate and understand their sites.Projects run by Amélievary considerably in size and complexity, from plant macro-remains analysis of a single bulk sample to the processing of several hundred buckets of sediment and large pluri-disciplinary analysis. The majority of our projects, however, involve a mean of three diferent disciplines, with plant macro-remains being the most in-demand study (mostly done in partnership with Lisa Gray, UK), and complemented with other palaeo-environmental studies (Quest, University of Reading) or chemical analysis (Amélie, University of Bristol, University of Durham). Over the past 13 years we have undertaken numerous “big projects” involving up to a dozen specialists. For example, near La Rochelle, Amélieteamed with Quaternary Scientifc, to direct several large-scale, palaeo-environmental studies on the evolution of the coastline, taking boreholes (Figure 1) and applying a large suite of palaeo-environmental approaches to the sediments collected, the aim of which was to reconstruct the ancient coastal environment and shorelines as they related to the Neolithic occupation of the uplands (Lang et al., 2020; Save, 2011; Save et al., 2012; Soler et al., 2013).Being a company built on restlessness and a desire to innovate and experiment, in 2011 Amélieacquired a portable X-ray fuorescence spectrometer (pXRF), paid for in part through State subventions awarded to the company – in large part due to our innovation. Joseph and Sabrina chose the most versatile pXRF available at the time (Innov-X Delta Premium) as they wanted to be able to analyse all types of archaeological materials: metal, ceramic, glass, sediment, etc, both in our lab, in the labs of others, and (why not) in the feld if necessary. As the possession and use of devices emitting ionising rays (a pXRF) falls under the control of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, it was necessary for someone within Amélieto become certifed in radioprotection: Sabrina undertook the special training and passed the exam: she is now lead scientist, commercial director and a Personne Compétente en Radioprotection.Our initial idea was to ofer pXRF analysis to museums for conservation and archiving purposes, but, as with so many things, the “business” of pXRF analysis of archaeological artefacts did not really take of. Commissioned for a few