thinking about archaeology

Archive for April, 2010

Where are all the women?

I don’t often get called “whitey” or a “discriminator”, or accused of “femicide”, but those words seem to have been addressed at me (and other “events organisers, editors in broadcasting and the media, radio and TV producers, commissioners and jurors”) in a vitriolic and perhaps wilfully thoughtless piece by Bidisha in last week’s Guardian. Of course, I can take it – I’m an editor. But there’s a serious issue here, which is the continuing dominance by men of the powerful and creative ends of the arts and media, to be seen against a wider engagement that is plainly more balanced, if not weighted towards women (“Women write, read, edit and publicise more fiction than men”, claims Bidisha). Though the article was not about race, Bidisha appears to think that humanity divides into whites and Arabs. As Julian Baggini has already commented, things are far more complicated than she seems to believe. Editors, organisers and producers are facilitators, not gods.

I’ve been editing British Archaeology for six years. There is only one editor, and I’m a bloke, so inevitably some of the content (more…)

Vote for the hoard?

In this unusually interesting general election there is a particularly interesting thing going on in the West Midlands. The Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire hoard was found near Hammerwich, within the Lichfield parliamentary constituency. But it will be exhibited at the museums in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent, where an archaeologist and a historian are respectively standing for parliament. The hoard leapt through the normal specialist and hobby boundaries that surround most archaeological stories into wider public culture, and has been much talked about by local politicians and businesses. Will it now feature in campaigns for a national election?

An indication of the political interest came in a parliamentary early day motion proposed in January by Labour MP Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent Central). It was seconded by (more…)

Staffordshire hoard now over 3,000 pieces

I’ve just realised the new British Archaeology is the 40th issue I’ve edited. It’s got some good things in it, reflecting the interesting times. As I said in the editorial (which I wrote the day after the budget), if it weren’t so tough – using the chancellor’s word – we’d be celebrating, with politicians praising archaeology, some great new archaeology schemes cleared from government desks and the Staffordshire hoard bought.

I was very pleased at the outcome of English Heritage’s major consultation and survey about public attitudes to ancient human (more…)

Dr Who and Stonehenge

Putting finishing touches to Foamhenge, Jun 2005

As has been widely publicised (you don’t get to film there with a large crew, floodlights and smoke machines without being noticed, even in the middle of the night in early February), Stonehenge features as a location in the new Dr Who series. This will start a new chapter in Stonehenge trivia: I think this is the first time the doctor has been to the stones (notwithstanding a claim in a 1965 episode by a Time Lord called the Monk to have put them there in 1500BC).

He did visit a stone circle in Cornwall (or the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, where the (more…)