Welcome to Volume 18 of PIA. Unusually this is our second volume of 2007, with the publication of our first Special Volume in March. Volume S1, “Studies of Stored Collections in Museums”, comprised a group of related research papers brought together by Suzanne Keene, whereas this volume contains the traditional mix of research papers, reviews and features. Another development this year has been the launch of the Council for British Archaeology’s Archlib project (http://archlib.britarch.net/) where all the articles from recent volumes of PIA, and other archaeological journals, are available to download for a modest fee.

Returning to the current volume, both the Interview and Forum look beyond the confines of the Institute to illustrate the wider contexts in which archaeologists operate. Our interviewee, Mike Pitts, started at the Institute and after serving the archaeological and culinary needs of visitors to Avebury is now the Editor of British Archaeology. He reflects on his career to date and considers the role of British Archaeology in the wider public consciousness of archaeology. He also tells us that he would like to teach archaeologists to communicate with a wider audience, a theme echoed in Gabriel Moshenska’s book review of Brian Fagan’s Writing Archaeology.

In the Forum Kathryn Tubb, lecturer and conservator at the Institute, argues that archaeologists cannot ignore the trade in illicit antiquities; the study and conservation of such objects by archaeologists can legitimise them, and even increase their market value. UCL’s unfortunate recent association with a private collection of Aramaic incantation bowls, as dissected in Neil Brodie’s response, serves to underline the immediacy of the problem. Without condoning looting respondents differ as to their approach to unprovenanced objects: while Ricardo Elia agrees that any involvement in the antiquities market makes archaeologists complicit in looting, John Boardman and Lawrence Kaye argue for a more nuanced view of the problem from a scholarly and legal point of view.

It has been a good year for research paper submissions, with seven published here. With topics ranging from the Acheulean to Auschwitz they show the diversity of interests of postgraduates at the Institute and beyond. In roughly chronological order: David Underhill and Karen Ruebens, both at the University of Southampton, present the results of their work on stone tools. Underhill considers the issue of subjectivity in the study of handaxes and demonstrates that the assessment of symmetry needs more careful attention, before proposing one way forward. Ruebens examines the phenomenon of ‘mixed’ assemblages of lithics in the European Middle Palaeolithic and argues for the need to consider the culture and movements of the individuals who manufactured them.

Sarah De Nardi discusses the interplay between landscape and identity in the Veneto region of Italy in late prehistory: she shows that a seemingly homogeneous entity can be composed instead of a set of highly localised material culture assemblages. Velissaria Vanna expands on a Short Report in PIA 16 to present an innovative comparison between two skeletal populations in Greece, one Hellenistic and one modern. Looking at a number of indicators she reveals the ways in which health differences in biological sex and socially-determined gender can be inferred across and between these populations. Elisa Perego also considers gender, arguing that women’s roles have been neglected in Maya archaeology. She makes the case that a wider variety of evidence and material culture forms should be considered in order to move beyond the usual, but often male-dominated, sources of evidence and so tune into previously inaudible women’s voices.

The archaeology of the recent past is also featured, with Adrian Myers’s often poignant contribution about the material culture of wartime Auschwitz concentration camp. His account illustrates how archaeology can offer a different perspective on a frequently discussed historical example. Judy Xu brings us into the present with her research at the Xianrendong Ecological Village in China: she observes the complex negotiation between tourism and heritage from the perspective of the villagers, situating her case study within wider debates around heritage tourism.

Professor Peter Ucko’s contributions to archaeology are also remembered here: Judy Xu, a member of the Centre for Chinese Architecture and Heritage, which he was instrumental in setting up, writes: “Without his encouragement and help, my research would not have been possible”. Fay Stevens’s review of the WAC Inter-Congress in Jamaica reports on the tributes to Professor Ucko, and also a fitting legacy: a number of postgraduates from the Institute participating in the thriving conference which he founded.

Staying in the Caribbean, we are pleased to include the latest report from Quetta Kaye and colleagues’ fieldwork in Carriacou, whose preliminary findings have been promptly reported in a number of volumes of PIA. Yvette Balbaligo also contributes the results from excavations at Ille Cave in the Phillipines. Two more book reviews complete this year’s volume: Paul Hubbard on South African rock art and Steven Matthews’s discussion and review of the latest in fragmentation theory.

The postgraduate community at the Institute continues to thrive: the Graduate Conference, “Method to Madness? Methods and Methodology in Archaeology”, spanned two days and featured 21 papers from postgraduates at the Institute followed by a well-attended plenary with a panel of Professors John Barrett, Matthew Johnson, Clive Orton and Stephen Shennan. Another postgraduate initiative at the Institute, the Forum for Island Research and Experience (FIRE) provides the papers for our next Special Volume, to be published in 2008, for which Hilary Orange takes over as Senior Editor. I would like to thank her and the rest of the committee for their hard work in producing Volume 18, and wish them good luck for next year.

Andrew Shapland, Senior Editor
December 2007