Kindling Interest?

Article excerpt

KENNETH AITCHISON. Breaking new ground: how professional archaeology works. 528 Kindle pages (estimated), 3 figures, 31 tables. 2012. Sheffield: Landward Research; 978-0-9572452-0-4, e-book (Kindle edition) 2.79 [pounds sterling].

Is Kindle an effective way of promoting archaeology to a wider audience? Kindle (an electronic device to read books downloaded from Amazon, m'lord) has thousands of titles if you search for "archaeology": a search on 7 September 2012 revealed that its top 10 (by relevance) include a couple of cheap novels, a couple of free books published in the nineteenth century and popular introductions to archaeology at publishers' prices of around 17 [pounds sterling]. Tablet reading is not to everyone's liking, but since you don't have to have a Kindle to read Kindle books, and conversely that you can read non-Kindle documents including Antiquity articles on a Kindle by uploading them from your computer (are you still following, m'lord?) my reluctance was overcome, encouraged by a student's enthusiasm for this way of accessing information (that's reading, m'lord). So what's it like? Well, not that bad: I was pleasantly surprised by the resolution of images in a sample Antiquity article (though the Kindle I tried it on was monochrome) and annotating the text was easy. For my next archaeological Kindle foray I tried Kenneth Aitchison's Breaking new ground: how professional archaeology works which, as the author told a recent conference audience, started life as an extended (100 000-word) commentary accompanying his PhD-by-publication at the University of Edinburgh. The resulting book concerns the conduct of professional archaeology in Britain up to 2010, but not exclusively so, with for example comment on CRM archaeology in the USA (how do you cite a Kindle page? my screen at this stage said "Location 826 of 9168"). I have no quibble with the book, an informed overview of British archaeology through the latter part of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first. Planning regulations, types of development, case studies, the activities of commercial companies (note that Oxford Archaeology ceased activity in France in 2011), the role of the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA), employment, the effects of the economic downturn between 2008 and 2010 are all clearly exposed and supported by informative statistical data. …