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History of Archaeology sessions UISPP, Melbourne 2017

July 4, 2015

International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences Scientific Commission “History of Archaeology”

The next meeting of the UISPP will be in Melbourne, Australia in September of 2017, The History of Archaeology Commission is very keen to organize sessions that reflect a global approach to the history of archaeology, and the fact that the conference is in Australia provides a great opportunity to attract colleagues from all over the Asia-Pacific region, as well as from the Americas, Africa and Eastern and Western Europe which have traditionally strongly supported our conferences.

At this early stage we are seeking expression of interest from colleagues who have an interest in furthering the aims and objectives of our Commission. At the last UISPP conference (2014 in Burgos, Spain) there were several important sessions related to the History of Archaeology, and we wish to improve on this. At present our goal is to attract organizers of sessions, and we have already received an expression of interest related to a session on the History of Archaeology in the Pacific, and for a session on the History of Archaeology in Australia. Nonetheless there is room for other sessions that need not necessarily be organized around geographic themes – for example around the history of theory in archaeology, the history of the archaeology of mining, the history of wetland archaeology, the history of rock art analysis or indeed the histories of major archaeological societies – to name just a few. Please include a short abstract outlining the goals of any proposed session and your estimate of the number of people who may wish to present papers.

We are also very interested in ensuring a good attendance at the Melbourne conference. The conference website has been launched ( which contains useful information – particularly about deadlines. During 2016 the website will significantly expand providing more detail about the conference, tours, the city of Melbourne, and of course the UISPP itself. Colleagues will need to join the UISPP to attend the conference and full details about this can be found at: It is UISPP policy that attendance fees for the conference will be reduced by membership fees paid for 2015-2017, which provides an excellent reason for joining the UISPP as soon as possible!

Session organizers should also be aware that the papers presented in the History of Archaeology sessions will be published. The papers from the Burgos conference will be published by BAR in a special UISPP series.

Please circulate this notification as widely as possible. Please direct all queries related to the History of Archaeology sessions to the Commission Cordinator for Melbourne 2017 Tim Murray ( Queries concerning the Commission should be directed to the President: Marc-Antoine Kaeser, (

Member of the Month – Thea De Armond

July 3, 2015

It’s July! That means a new Member of the Month profile and I’m delighted to post this fascinating piece by Thea.

Autobiography is always a fraught endeavor – the more so for me because, for the past few years, in conjunction with my dissertation research, I’ve been preoccupied with life-writing. It is thanks to this preoccupation that I find myself in a state of near-paralysis when it comes to sketching out the outlines of my intellectual autobiography. I’ll begin from the present. My current research considers the history of (mostly) classical archaeology in (mostly) Czechoslovakia through the life and career of one of its practitioners, the archaeologist, philologist, and epigrapher Antonín Salač (1885-1960). The preceding caveats in defining the bounds of my research will not surprise anyone who works on disciplines “in the making” – or, indeed, anyone who works on the past from the vantage point of the present. Here, I will only write about my work on Salač, but, were I to broadly characterize my academic interests – which also include public archaeology and the (dying?) buzzword “materiality” – an explicit focus on the past in the present underlies all of them.

Why work on Czechoslovakia? The word “classical” – and, so, the body of disciplines comprising “classical studies” – implies a sort of universality. Naturally, then, outside Greece and Rome, the history of classical studies has been entangled with that of empires, whose geographical and geopolitical ambit amounts to another sort of claim to universality. This is all rather abstract. Most basically – though somewhat simplistically – if the appellation “classical” is to be believed, the stuff of Graeco-Roman antiquity is the best stuff, and empires, those great aggregators of peoples and materials, have always gravitated toward the best stuff – or, rather, it has gravitated toward them, like a meteorite to the Earth, or a planet to a black hole.

That said, the values of empires are by no means universal, nor is the valorization of classical antiquity. First Republic Czechoslovakia (1918-1938), as well as the socialist state of Czechoslovakia (to say nothing of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the Slovak Republic), saw classical studies and classical archaeology decline; prehistoric and medieval archaeologies were, instead, on the ascent. That Czechoslovakia (especially, the area of the current Czech Republic) had very little in the way of classical archaeological material has much to do with this decline; so, too, classical antiquity’s association with empire and, later, with the bourgeois. What might classical archaeology look like in a context that is so entirely unfavorable to its development? How and why might one become its devotee and practitioner? The margins have much to tell us about the center – as well as, of course, about the margins themselves (though the intrinsic value of the margins can be, unfortunately, a hard sell) – and this is why I am writing about Czechoslovakia. I ought to note, too, that my mother was born in Prague, which makes this project a little easier for me and also, undoubtedly, gives me an appreciation for these specific margins.

Antonín Salač was born in Prague in 1885, then, part of Austria-Hungary. He was educated within Austria’s recently expanded gymnasium system, an instrument of the Austrian government and a factory for bureaucrats, but also a flashpoint for Czech nationalists, for whom the right to be educated in the Czech language (rather than German) was a hard-won battle; Salač was educated in Czech. These tensions between Czech and German language and influence are a consistently important background to Salač’s life and career and to the history of archaeology in Czechoslovakia.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll spare you extended discussion of Salač’s education and early career, here, focusing only on his first trip to “the lands of classical antiquity” – Greece. In fact, this is the first time that archaeology really comes into the picture for Salač – after World War I, when Czechoslovakia has become a state. At the beginning of 1920, Salač, a newly appointed docent of classical philology at the Czech university in Prague, visited Greece for the first time. To integrate himself into the community there (of archaeologists but, also, more broadly), he availed himself of the connections of his predecessors; travel to Greece and Rome had been a regular stage in university professors’ cursus honorum since the Austrian government’s late 19th-century establishment of stipends for gymnasium professors’ travel there. Jaroslav Š˘tastný (1862-1932), a gymnasium professor whose wife Chrasikleia was Greek, was a key resource for Salač – and, especially before the establishment of a Czechoslovak embassy, for the Czechoslovak government, which enlisted the Š˘tastný family as propagandists for Czechoslovakia in Greece. Salač also distributed Czechoslovak propaganda (pamphlets about the new state) in Greece; most Greeks had never heard of Czechoslovakia.

First Republic Czechoslovakia had very close ties to France. France had supported the establishment of Czechoslovakia during and after the war, especially as a buffer to Germany. These ties – and the recommendation of the historian and advocate for Czechoslovakia Ernest Denis (1849-1921) — helped Salač insinuate himself into the French School at Athens. He became a member of its foreign section – an institution largely meant to counter German influence – and accompanied the French School on its excavations on Delos, Thasos, and in Delphi. Salač aimed to learn the basics of archaeological excavation, so that the new state of Czechoslovakia might – like France, Germany, and other world powers – conduct its own excavations in the classical world. And, in fact, alongside the French School, and later, without it, he led his own excavations in Samothrace, Turkey, and Bulgaria.

Let me offer two brief conclusions about Salač’s first visit to Greece. First, it represented a sort of convergence of “personal” and “institutional” relationships. Consider, for example, the aid of Jaroslav Št’astný’s in-laws (the Vassiliades family) in securing for Salač basic necessities in Athens. These sorts of contacts – what Suzanne Marchand has called “local enablers,” largely missing from histories of archaeology – must have been very important to First Republic Czechoslovakia’s – no Great Power – early transactions abroad. Second, Salač’s work in Greece was only made possible by the existence of the Czechoslovak state. His relationships with individuals and institutions were fundamentally “diplomatic” in character; as a member of the French School, long acknowledged to be an extension of French cultural diplomacy, Salač represented Czechoslovakia. Classical archaeology in Greece (then, as now) was negotiated between nation-states. And Salač, unlike his predecessors, sought standing in Greece’s archaeological community according to the same principles as its powerbrokers, as the representative of a nation-state.

I’ll close with an oddity: during his time in Greece, Salač was both an intermediary for the Czechoslovak government and for Czechoslovak business interests. Specifically, he appears to have facilitated a trade in glass eyes between Greek pharmacists and opticians and the Sudetenland glass factory of Heinrich Hoffman (better known for his Art Nouveau perfume bottles). The past is a foreign country, after all!

Thank you Thea for such an interesting piece. What I love most about these MoM posts is the range of knowledge shown by HARN members. I’m learning so much about all these different archaeologies and it’s all fascinating stuff! As ever, if you have anything to add or questions to be asked put them in the comment box below.

On that wonderful high note – have a great weekend


Call for Papers – PEF and the Early Exploration of the Holy Land

July 2, 2015

PEF and the Early Exploration of the Holy Land

The Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) is the oldest exploration society of the Levant. Since its establishment in 1865, PEF scholars have engaged in pioneering work in many fields of scientific research of the region. Among the PEF achievements were the first archaeological excavations in Jerusalem, the Survey of Western Palestine and also significant developments of the archaeological method by W. M. F Petrie and others.

In 2015, the PEF marks 150 years of its foundation. The University of Haifa and the Gottlieb Schumacher Institute invite paper presentations for the conference “PEF and the Early Exploration of the Holy Land“. The conference will take place in Haifa on December 20-21, 2015. Papers on the following topics or related topics are welcome:

  1. Early scholarship work of the PEF in the 19th and early 20th
  2. New studies/ re-assessment of PEF explored
  3. PEF and the study of Archaeology and History of Jerusalem

All of the paper presentations are to be delivered in English and are limited to 20 minutes. Selected papers will be published in a proceeding volume.

Paper proposals (up to 250 words) must be submitted online. Proposals submitted before August 1, 2015 will receive full consideration. Posters on the above topics are also welcome for a poster session.

All presenters are expected to register to the conference after the acceptance of their paper proposal. Registration fee is $40 (students $20).

Participants will be invited to a partially subsidized field trip to explore the PEF early works in Jerusalem.

Inquiries should be addressed to the Organizational Committee:

Organizational Committee:

Dr. Anat Kidron, Gottlieb Schumacher Institute, University of Haifa   Dr. David Gurevich, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University


Flying to the Past: Croydon to Persepolis

July 1, 2015

HARN member, Debbie Challis, has sent news of this event which is sure to be of interest to HARN members:

Members of the Breasted expedition and the plane - copyright Croydon Airport Society

Members of the Breasted expedition and the plane – copyright Croydon Airport Society

Flying to the Past

Stop! Look! Listen!*

June 26, 2015

I had been going to review Robert Markham’s Sutton Hoo Through the Rear View Mirror 1937-1942 and no doubt complain some more about John Preston’s The Dig but you have been saved from that tedium by two exciting pieces of news!

Exciting thing the first

That’s an impressive line up n’est ce pas? So, register now to ensure your place!

Exciting thing the second – HARN member Katie Meheux has been in touch about to tell us about this fascinating project:

Gordon Childe’s Skara Brae Notebooks: Digitisation Project

UCL Library Services and the UCL Institute of Archaeology having been working together to conserve and digitise the Gordon Childe Skara Brae excavation notebooks. Funding was provided by Historic Scotland as part of their Skara Brae Project launched in 2015. The Project will bring together past and current research on the site and is designed to grow and develop as new research is completed. The three Skara Brae excavation notebooks (notebooks 58, 63 and 64) relate to Gordon Childe’s excavations at the site in 1928-1930. Childe’s academic papers and notebooks form the Childe Archive, part of the Institute of Archaeology archives, which are held in UCL Special Collections. Photographs of the site, including some of Childe’s excavations, are available through Canmore, Scotland’s National Collection of buildings, archaeology and industry.

The digitised notebooks are now available through UCL Library Services Digital Collections.

Katie says the long-term aim is to generate  interest and then funding to digitise the whole Childe archive as a joint project with the Institute of Archaeology.

Now – this is a project close to my heart. While I was researching my PhD I read Childe’s Skara Brae notebooks and they gave me a whole new perspective on Childe’s personality and his enjoyment of field work so do follow those links.

And, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, next week I’ll be posting a new Member of the Month – July’s piece is by Thea De Armond discussing her work on Antonín Salač. It’s extremely interesting – you’re in for a real treat. The week after that there’s another fascinating and absorbing museum review by Kate, another treat for you all. Roll on July!

In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend. I’m going to see this – I’m very excited about that too!


*Initially I had in mind these public information films much shown when I was a child, classy acting from David, Alvin, Les and Joe. Then, as things do in my head, it developed into this – a much better ending to the week than wooden acting and a fake talking robot!

Invitation for a Session on the History of Archaeology at Australian Archaeology Conference

June 24, 2015

Our member Emilie Dotte-Sarout has contacted us with the following announcement:

Dear colleagues,

We would like to invite you to present a paper in our session at the next Australian Archaeology Association Conference, entitled On the Edge of Archaeology: The Historiography of Australian, Pacific and Southeast Asian Archaeology.

The conference is to be held at the University of Western Australia, Fremantle, WA from 2-4 December 2015.

The Conference theme for this year is: “On the Edge: The Archaeology of Adaptation and Transition”, with Keynote Speakers: Professors Mary Stiner and Steve Kuhn from the University of Arizona, and Michael Petraglia from the University of Oxford.

In our session, we wish to invite papers that explore the various histories of  archaeology in Australia, the Pacific and Southeast Asia and their resonance in the ways we do and think about archaeology today. Such analyses have the power to change the entire discourse of the discipline in radical and liberating ways and to produce a more theoretically-nuanced and self-aware practice in our region.

In histories of world archaeology, Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific are essentially absent: in many ways, these regions still represent an “edge” of the world for scholars of both the New and Old Worlds, as much as a reflective historiography remains at the edge of archaeology’s concerns in regional archaeology. While some important investigations into the history of archaeology have been undertaken in Australia and New Zealand in particular,  no in-depth historical examination of archaeology in the wider region exists to date. Furthermore, the value of the history of archaeology to critically assess current theories and practices of the discipline in our region still lacks recognition. As Tim Murray has argued, it is easily admitted but generally forgotten that our current theoretical orthodoxies have histories and are not necessarily ‘natural’ for the discipline.

Please note that the Call for Abstracts closes on August 14, with the online submission form to be found at: .

The website for the conference is currently under construction but you can follow updates on the facebook page at:

Please feel free to forward this invitation to other interested people.
Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Hoping to see you in Fremantle in December,
Emilie Dotte-Sarout and Matthew Spriggs

#DistractinglySexy – the trouble with science

June 18, 2015

If you’re in the English-speaking world you’d have to have been living under a stone for the last week to have missed the furore that followed Sir Tim Hunt’s remarks at a conference in Seoul. In case you have been living under that stone, at a lunch for science journalists the Nobel prizewinner said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.” He has since apologised for his ‘joke’ –  but since he still stands by his remarks, you have to wonder what the point of the apology was, it’s not an apology if you reiterate the offensive comments you initially made. Although Sir Tim has complained that no-one has listened to his version of events he’s been given enough of a platform to complain he’s been ‘hung out to dry’; that he was forced to resign by UCL and the European Research Council (ERC); that his career has been ruined and that no-one was interested in his side of the story.

When Sir Tim Hunt’s remarks were initially published, I was horrified. How could an eminent scientist be so insensitive and, well, stupid? Referring to women scientists as ‘girls’? How extraordinarily demeaning. Complaining that the ‘trouble’ was with them? Not with his own idiotic chauvinist attitudes? Calling for single sex laboratories to tackle ‘the problem’? This ‘problem’ that no-one else had? It felt like the years were rolling back and we’d returned to the days when male archaeologists had called for single sex excavations to prevent scandals and male workers being ‘distracted’ and unable to ‘act naturally’*.

However, I was then immediately heartened by the reaction his comments provoked. With the, inevitable, exception of Boris Johnson, no-one has argued that Sir Tim Hunt was right in what he said, rather  his (few**) supporters have focussed on claiming the affair has been blown out of proportion and blaming social media users, particularly Twitterers, for his fall from grace. Now, I don’t intend to discuss the rights and wrongs of him being forced to resign from UCL, the ERC and the Royal Society awards committee, I do think that’s an extreme reaction but I think it’s more important to ask how someone with such attitudes was appointed in the first place. I’ll come back to this, but before then let’s look at some of that social media; there have been some wonderful blog posts and Michael Eisen’s is particularly strong. He explains that he met Sir Tim Hunt and enjoyed his company at a meeting of young scientists in Kashmir earlier this year but was horrified by his Korean speech:      ‘When I am thinking about what happened here, I am not thinking about how Twitter hordes brought down a good man because he had a bad day. I am instead thinking about what it says to the women in that room in Kashmir that this leading man of science – who it was clear everybody at the meeting revered – had listened to their stories and absorbed nothing. It is unconscionable that, barely a month after listening to a women moved to tears as she recounted a sexual assault from a senior colleague and how hard it was for her to regain her career, Hunt would choose to mock women in science as teary love interests’ – See more here.

On Twitter and Facebook there has been the hilarious #DistractinglySexy thread mocking Tim Hunt’s unfunny joke with real humour, many of the photos – and quotes – have come from archaeologists so go and check it out; you can even buy a t shirt to warn people of your distracting sexiness or signs to warn people they’re entering a mixed gender lab (I apologise for the lack of images, I can’t seem to load them today, ironic, eh? Woman writing about stereotypes has a technology fail).

Obviously, not all the Twitter comments have been so well thought out, not all of them are funny and some are simply abusive. Twitter trolls exist as we all know, but Sir Tim Hunt has faced nothing like the terrifying aggression and vitriol Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez and others, mainly women, have received. He has lost an honorary post, journalists briefly camped on his doorstep and he and his wife (Professor Mary Collins, a senior immunologist) have had an uncomfortable time and face a very different future to the one they’d expected. But was this entirely because of social media, as he and his supporters believe, or because his publicly expressed views run counter to the image UCL, the ERC and the Royal Society wish to present? I have no idea not being privy to either body’s decisions, but it seems unlikely that these decisions were made solely as a result of Twitter users. What the Twitter thread does demonstrate is that if you publicly make ill-judged remarks you will be publicly, and overwhelmingly, ridiculed – and, yes, I am aware that you can be ridiculed for making reasonable remarks too –  I find this heartening.

However, (you knew there had to be caveat didn’t you?) wonderful as this outpouring of scorn has been, it shouldn’t disguise the fact that science is discriminatory. Some of those who support Sir Tim Hunt are freely acknowledging that science as a whole needs to do more to redress the balance. Look at the figures – in the UK, where women make up nearly half of the work force, only 13% of those working in science, technology or engineering are women. In academia there are more women involved in these areas but they still only constitute 16% of full-time professors. Archaeology does much better, figures from the ECU suggest the divide is 43% female to 57% male. Again we need to be wary of complacency, this is only in academia not in all aspects of archaeology, the figures are solely for the UK and, certainly in the UK, archaeology is a predominantly white subject. It’s also overridingly studied and staffed by the able-bodied, which again isn’t an accurate reflection of the UK population. We may be getting close to gender equality but we’ve got a long, long way to go before archaeology is a truly equal opportunities subject.

This is why attitudes and remarks matter, this is why it matters who is appointed to the top posts in our societies and universities. Sir Tim Hunt is undoubtedly a brilliant scientist as Professor Brian Cox maintains, but if we want women – and people of non-white origin – to progress in science, in archaeology, in all aspects of life, and I do, then we have to appoint people who welcome diversity. We have to seriously embrace the idea of gender and ethnic equality and work towards that aim, not just say we’re doing so. The plant biologist Professor Ottoline Leyser has defended Tim Hunt by saying: ‘I don’t know why he said those silly things, but the way his remarks have been taken up implies that women in science are having a horrible time. That is not the case. I, for one, am having a wonderful time.” Again this is heartening and, as an archaeologist, I too am having a wonderful time but we have to accept that not everyone is happy with the status quo and we have to listen and take on board their complaints. We have to make it clear that such stupid remarks about women, or anyone, are not acceptable. And, we have to ask institutions like UCL, the ERC and the Royal Society ‘if you knew Sir Tim Hunt held these beliefs about women, why did you think he was an acceptable appointee?’

‘k, I’m getting off my soapbox now, have a great weekend


* Professor John Percival Droop in Archaeological Excavation (1915) he also wanted single sex excavations as did F.W Albright and see Ivor Noël Hume’s remarks here.

** Unsurprisingly most of the defence of Sir Tim Hunt’s remarks have been published in the Daily Mail – there’s one particularly unpleasant piece by Sarah Vine that includes every possible stereotype about feminists. I would link to it but I have this app blocking me and I feel why give the Mail the site traffic? It only encourages them!




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