Trends in Antiquity. (Special Section)

By Stoddart, Simon | Antiquity, December 2002 | Go to article overview
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Trends in Antiquity. (Special Section)


Stoddart, Simon, Antiquity


Introduction: style

The editorial freedom given to ANTIQUITY by its founder and currently by its Trustees, and illustrated in practice by Caroline Malone, has accompanied a gentle evolution of the style of the journal. The relative stability of style, in an age where style is everything, has permitted the vibrancy of the changing message to remain the key element in the equation. The Stonehenge symbol has been gradually transformed (FIGURES 1-3), but its essence has never been rewritten by some media agency. Other emblems of a megalithic quality have been elaborated and reworked over the decades. The journal has not been renamed like a repackaged corporation or at least one archaeological journal. The typeface has been changed to combine economy and readability. Double columns were introduced in 1964. In spite of these detectable changes, there has been a subtle evolution rather than revolution.

[FIGURES 1-3 OMITTED]

The more marked changes have been those that have facilitated the distribution of information. Most notably, there have been increases in length, greatly enabled by the electronic revolution implemented by Chris and Anne Chippindale. The ready availability of space and the quarterly presence of the journal have enabled a rapid presentation of fresh news to the readership. The same principle has been behind the institution of the supplement, under the current editorship, so that advertised information can be rapidly promulgated. Colour has been introduced on an increasing scale, in its most recent form of the 750-word colour note, allowing immediacy and rapidity of reporting. Finally, classics are being reprinted in a series of themes that bridge 75 years. It is on the lessons from these that I wish to concentrate, drawing on the content that they illustrate.

Trends of content: a comparison of two themes

The two themes of landscapes and Celts (or rather less poetically `1st-millennium SC Europe' or perhaps for a North American audience `pre-imperial middle range societies') provide a deliberate contrast. The first is a cross-cultural theme, much in vogue today in both practical and theoretical archaeology. It is a theme that has strong links to other subjects, including anthropology, geography and history. The second is a strongly particularist theme of the European archaeologist, and yet carrying connotations linked to a deep-seated past that go much beyond the continent of Europe. The term Celtic is associated with the timeless roots of many European peoples, both in their homelands and in their various dispersals around the world.

Landscape

In the time of the first editor (1927-1957), Crawford, there was a rich variety of approaches to landscape which included, but was not dominated by, aerial photography. Many of the classics of aerial photography (e.g. Woodbury, Durrington Walls and Woodhenge) were illustrated, but there was a wider range of landscapes from regions and themes as separated as the classical world and Maori hillforts. One area of investigation is perhaps unexpected. There was significant study of modern `ethnographic' landscapes in the celtic fringe, drawing on ethnohistory to deepen understanding of long-lasting landscape practices.

The period of the second editor (1958-1986), Glyn Daniel, although also, by origin, a geographer, had much less variety. The only systematic presence of landscape was provided between 1964 and 1980 by the regular inclusion of aerial photographic reconnaissance by the Cambridge plane of St Joseph and comparable continental European coverage. One explanation may be that an interregnum existed between the excitement and novelty of the Ordnance Survey/Royal Commission surveys at the time of Crawford and a new and varied investigation of landscape, employing changed methodologies. For instance, it was only in 1977 that the first results of the second generation of a new wave of surveys from the Mediterranean world were reported in ANTIQUITY (Barker 1977).

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