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Antiquity Editorial - Full Text
After contacting Martin Carver, they had a discussion and this is the answer:
Quote: I think the simplest thing is to put the Editorial on open access for this quarter and then everyone can read and download it whether they are subscriber or not. We will send you the link as soon as we’ve fixed it. Meanwhile thank you very much for your interest and supportive comments.
The Editorial is now available on open access at

Antiquity would be grateful if you could direct readers to this web address where they can read the full Editorial for free.

I would like to give special thanks to Martin for this and to Antiquity for this free access. This perhaps gives an idea about how important we feel this Editorial is, and urge people to read it, download it, print it out, pass it round.

The Editorial begins......

In these times of economic unrest, archaeology needs to decide whether it is a public service, has something to sell or is just an inspiring pastime. While the latter is always true, it’s not particularly relevant in the context of maintaining an income. As for the first two, silver-tongued advocacy has employed professional archaeologists as never before, caring for earthworks and old buildings – the conservation sector – and recording everything that is going to be destroyed – the mitigation sector. For most of us, that is as it should be – the case for valuing some of the material past is unanswerable: we do it for the unborn. As with tigers, whales and other endangered animals, we just know we want our children to see them. We are less bothered by endangered mosquitoes – and thereby hangs a tail................

interesting...for me key quotes are;

"....That’s like the league of embalmers complaining there aren’t enough dead people. It might have been easier
to make the case that mitigation archaeology in Britain is really a public service, if it hadn’t
already been commandeered by companies operating like giant businesses at national and
international level. The document also makes some questionable claims about the high standards
of mitigation fieldwork, which in practice is too often rushed, messy and perfunctory..."

"Whatever the future brings, let’s hang on to this principle: the true currency of archaeology
is knowledge; that’s our gold standard, valid everywhere."
Interesting? Not really, thanks for that helpful kick Martin mate... I must be doing something wrong because I see what I do as ridding the sie of its archaeology as cheaply and speedily as possible, while creating a past that wasn't there before! His list of examples of what the purpose of archaeology is (other than the broad notion that it 'to find out about the past' - I'll remember to quote that in my next report) is about a unhelpfully lofty as it is possible to be. We can't all be explaining the very fundamentals of human existance/history etc but we can be adding a little bit at a time. I suspect that people like him only see the big picture when its drawn on a massive canvas. Sorry, just felt the need to say something negative to stay positive.
Esoteric pontification. I agree with some of the sentiments but 'knowledge is wealth' isn't going to cut much ice in these times. Surely archaeology (and history) is all about attempting to draw conclusions to the way people have responded to situations in the past? We can contribute directly to debates about environmental degradation, migration, economic crisis, social change etc Want to prove there's over-fishing in the North Sea? Demonstrate that medieval fish were bigger than post-Med fish, which were bigger than modern fish. Worrying about the risk to buildings in flood plains? Think about those clever people in the past who always managed to build their IA, RB and Med houses on bits of land that were fractionally higher than the surrounding area. All of this is relevant to economic issues we are (or should be) worrying about.
I didn't realise that Antiquity was in trouble too... Until now.
um... right?
The editorial reads as a plea for how wonderfully eclectic Antiquity is lately, I'm not surprised they were willing to let us view it for free, as it is such a good piece of advertising. It did make me chuckle that they've deigned to include the 'Modern Period' AD 1500 to AD 2000 into their definition of the archaeological. How very progressive!

Weirdly no mention of PPS5 or other heritage reform in the UK either. Rolleyes
#8 A link to one of the journals slated by Carver, it also has a couple of free editorials, not to mention some interesting articles on current policy and practice in the, oh so vague, historic environment.
Cynical to the last Vulpes. I take it you have no other opinion on the content other than to be mildly sarcastic? So I take it you disagree with the content? or agree with some, but see it basicly as an advert for Antiquity. AS it happens, I saw it and approached them, as I thought it would be a stimulating read. I certainly found much to agree with.

Ah Historic Environment... I put that on my passport... job Historic Environment Professional. Step aside little people, I am no longer an archaeologist... I am a HEP cat!

Do you disagree with the comments about mitigation archaeology as well? do you disagree with the concept of what archaeology is about? Do you just disagree. without further comment...

In general I am glad to see the Historic Environment united in moving forward with more than just words. ... Surely you, with the current position in your own department, can have some sort of agreement that we don't get support unless we make ourselves useful.
so, I'm cynical? Perhaps. I found Carver's editorial rather cynical in tone, particularly in it's ill-informed dismissal of the historic environment. Just because Tom King finds it hard to commit to nailing the thing down, doesn't mean the rest of us have any real trouble. Particularly when it is identified so widely e.g. PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment, Historic Environment Records and so on. Hardly a new, or particularly challenging concept. No, I don't find the editorial particularly illuminating, glad it tickled you though BAJR and thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll show it to our Heritage Champion. :face-kiss: Not sure how Prof Carver's self-congratulatory and oh so zeitgeisty words contribute to
Quote:the Historic Environment united in moving forward with more than just words
. Make ourselves useful???? You mean we aren't useful already.... I didn't realise all this came down to the sector being useless. Cheers BAJR :face-approve:

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