Antiquity-The First 75 Years. (Special Section)

Article excerpt

O.G.S. Crawford founded ANTIQUITY 75 years ago as a private venture and declared it to be a `needed organ to express the points of view' of scholars and `to publish the cream of their researches'. Its purpose was to `serve as a link between specialists and the general public' (1955:193). Its function was `to tell readers about the most interesting things that are going on in the archaeological world, and also to foreshadow coming events of outstanding importance' (1957: 57). He reflected that `ANTIQUITY thus became, quite naturally and informally, the organ of the then younger generation, consisting of alert-minded students who were creating new implements of research and using them to give substance and form to prehistory' (1954). His fundamental ethos was that `archaeology is world-wide; our subject is the origin of man and the roots of our culture, and important discoveries bearing off these matters may come from any part of the world'.

Many archaeologists gathered here to celebrate this journal no doubt will claim to have personal and sentimental feelings towards the journal ANTIQUITY, be they young Turks or mature practitioners. But why are you here? What makes ANTIQUITY significant and different from other journals of archaeology?

Is it its independence of spirit?

Or is it the vast range of subjects, places and periods that are contained within the journal?

Or is it that what is published represents the honest yet authoritative opinions of the individuals who write, unrestricted by politics, status or view, able to be candid and often controversial?

Is it the topicality of the Editorials, which review events, news and developments--humorously or critically as required?

Or is it simply that it appears frequently and regularly?

ANTIQUITY, of course, is all of these things.


Firstly, O.G.S. Crawford quite intentionally planned that ANTIQUITY would be independent of any institution or society, able to express a range of views (Crawford 1932: 131):

In recent numbers of ANTIQUITY there have been published several provocative criticisms of contemporary affairs ... In a freelance journal like Antiquity such matters can be ventilated with more freedom than elsewhere: and if these occasional draughts of fresh air cause some people to catch cold we sincerely regret their inconvenience but maintain that the atmosphere is improved and the majority benefited thereby. Science has nothing to gain from polite humbug which nobody believes.

As Mortimer Wheeler (1958: 3) wrote of him after his death in 1957, Crawford was full `of boyish glee in calling the bluff of convention [which] never left him, and never ceased to stimulate and delight'.

Virtually every other review, journal or annual of an archaeological, cultural or historical nature is tied closely to an institution or association--be it a museum, university or county society. Publications sponsored by these necessarily echo their current ethos, since production is paid for and edited by its members. Material for such journals is selected because it `fits' the parameters and reflects the interests of the members, subscribers and associates, however narrow or broad they may be.


When Crawford founded ANTIQUITY, he was well aware of the self-selected archaeological centres of influence in Oxford University, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the County societies, the national museums and the rest; and he sought to offer wider and more interesting material in ANTIQUITY for a general readership. He wanted the journal to be bought on the news-stands and, indeed, he was successful; for decades, ANTIQUITY could be bought at W.H.Smith and on railway-staiton bookstands. Crawford reflected the changing ideals of the 1920s--The Common Man: thus (1955: 3):

ANTIQUITY is not just a journal published by archaeologists for other archaeologists, and specializing in some particular aspect or period or country. …