Caroline Malone, Simon Stoddart & Nicholas James

By Mattingly, David | Antiquity, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Caroline Malone, Simon Stoddart & Nicholas James


Mattingly, David, Antiquity


Now that ANTIQUITY has reached its last 1999 issue, the editorial team has pondered how to mark this arbitrary moment: indeed, an especially arbitrary moment for a journal which has many contributions from prehistory. A National Maritime Museum exhibition at Greenwich (a historically contingent point in time and space) explores some of the modern dimensions of time, and readers can visit the exhibition from 1 December to satisfy their curiosity. It is a missed opportunity of this exhibition that they have chosen a philosopher and not an archaeologist to discuss recent prehistoric time (renamed Astronomy in Prehistory and Early Civilisations). The exhibition attempts to go beyond western concepts of time, with studies of the Inuit and Mesomerica, but the result is inevitably western in concept. ANTIQUITY does not allow this narrow conception of Time.

There are many ways to mark the end of AD 1999; one pretentious possibility we whimsically explored was a special issue on the World at 1950 BP. This, we argued, could have emphasized the contribution ANTIQUITY has made to the coverage of world archaeology aided by the impact of radiocarbon. In the end, we abandoned this pretension, and have decided to reflect on the last 73 years. ANTIQUITY has, we think, more than any other journal about archaeology, contributed impressively to the way most of us think about the past and passing time.

ANTIQUITY's first century

What has been ANTIQUITY's contribution to almost three-quarters of a century of archaeology? This was the question we put to ourselves. Unlike most journals, ANTIQUITY is strongly marked by its editors, who tend to be in post for much longer than most. Having completed our second year as an editorial team, we contemplate with wonder the ability that our predecessors have had for keeping up a perpetual flow of ideas and debates. The years of ANTIQUITY have been impressive, for they reflect the central debates and concerns of archaeology. In its early years, it is probably true to say there was only one archaeology, but now as the discipline has been increasingly specialized and consequently fragmented, ANTIQUITY remains the only journal that aims to provide interest for readers from many different backgrounds within the wide arena of archaeology. The need to resist the myopia of excessive specialization is as strong as ever.

Range and breadth

As has been reported many times before in this journal, O.G.S. CRAWFORD founded ANTIQUITY to provide a review journal about archaeology. This was a time when there were only the journals of national, county and period societies and the foreign schools abroad. Short-lived reviews, popular accounts such as the Illustrated London News and other periodicals had failed to provide the professional account of the newly emerging discipline to a keenly interested public, recently attracted to the excitements of Tutankhamun (1922) and discoveries across the Empire and at home.

The early years (1927-1957) of ANTIQUITY not only reflected its founder's broad approach to a specialist subject with popular and general relevance, but also the sense that archaeology, in all its forms, was an inclusive discipline. Ethnology and folklore found space alongside speculations about language, civilization, historical geography, art history, numismatics and human evolution. All were considered as contributions to the material of archaeology. This interdisciplinary inclusiveness compares starkly with the highly specialized and impenetrable aspirations of much archaeological writing of today (Fagan 1991: 186). The early years also reflected a fascination with distant places and cultures, and reports on New Zealand, Arabia, Italy, the Danube, the Fayum of Egypt, Algeria and Greece figured large in just the first year of publication in 1927. Criticism has been levelled at ANTIQUITY for `getting too international and broad' by some in recent years, when the archaeology of new continents has been made more accessible through the pages of the journal. …

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