Editorial

By Carver, Martin | Antiquity, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Editorial


Carver, Martin, Antiquity


Where is archaeology going? Can Antiquity answer this question? Should it try to? We are privileged to be sent much of the best new research--or that part of it ready to be summarised into short statements. What does it tell us about the direction in which archaeological minds are moving? The submissions are not random: there is a scholarly Zeitgeist which moves among them and could perhaps be detected by an astute geistbuster. Trying to place a finger on the future is a pleasant exercise that could prove useful, even if wrong.

Criticisms of our content heard at conferences take a random form: 'too much Palaeolithic', 'all that Polynesia', 'not many papers relevant to me' or 'bewildering variety'. My first reaction is always one of surprise that so few readers like to read outside their field. But a second imperative is to take stock: do we do justice to the whole world and all the loom of time? As a check and guide to the research we published in 2006, readers may care to take advantage of the new 'Time and Topics' table printed at the head of the index (p. 1038). This certainly presents a feast, but can anyone hope to identify a significant trend from its rich and varied menu? A few subjects quickly suggest themselves for expansive chat: the enduring subtext provided by agriculture; the language of burial; the recurrence of symbols. Bulls have a walk-on ritual role in Europe over ten millennia, featuring on stelae in Iberia, as deposits in Iron Age France and under the Sutton Hoo axe-hammer. Iron Age people are burying their dead as mummies in furnished chambers under pyramids in Mongolia. But presumably we do not suspect an invasion by Rameses II. Do chariot burials mean nomads? New work is mapping horses and chariots over northern Asia, a continent coming increasingly under the spotlight as an originator of movement both east and west. Sea travel is almost ubiquitous, from the time that there was a sea; in this year alone researchers describe prehistoric journeys in the Red Sea, the China Sea, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the North Sea beginning in 8000 and perhaps originating in the earliest hominin breakout. Human mobility is becoming earlier and more continuous, so many additional scintillations of light, spotted in each of the seven seas. This year we even published our first paper about the archaeological heritage on the moon. And three key methods are helping to create this global framework: satellite survey, isotope signatures (as signals of place of origin) and radiocarbon dating. And in case you are thinking, well, the last of these at least is old hat, look at the first article of this issue, which will send shivers of anxiety through many existing absolute dates. The research team suggest that no date before 26 000 BP and few before 12 400 BP are currently safe, and that new mutually supporting networks must be built up.

One could advance the tentative opinion that the dream of a world prehistory is coming ever closer to reality--raising the suspicion that the world always was a global village. If so, it should be possible to build a powerful explanatory discourse about humans, independent of their modern preoccupations. There are still some conceptual inhibitions to such a discourse, the divisions of time and space perhaps prominent among them. My ten 'periods' were creations of convenience, based on datability, designed to help readers escape from their native narratives. A neutral terminology of time could help to link prehistoric fragments that we can now begin to suspect were never totally isolated from each other. As for space, continents rather than countries might provide the neutral scientific ground. Given these, we can anticipate the creation of universal frameworks by the boldest among us.

Global overviews are the business of global conferences. Before the Southampton revolution of 1986 which gave birth to the World Archaeological Congress, the world's archaeological Mecca was the congress of the International Union far Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences, otherwise Union Internationale des Sciences Prehistoriques et Protohistoriques. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Editorial
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.