This year the UK celebrates the centenary of the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act. At the same time, actions of this century demonstrate that no archaeological site can be guaranteed the necessary protection regardless of its significance, and so risks being lost for future generations. Protecting, understanding, preserving and conserving are not only complex technical matters, but are complex contextual matters, whereby the active or passive involvement by the Government and the public, the role of legal frameworks, city and community interests, or larger political and economic agendas play a massive part. In the UK, archaeologists have warned that the future of heritage is threatened with thousands of sites in England at risk from neglect, decay and damage – according to the Heritage at Risk register. The British Archaeological Trust – Rescue – has responded to a recent report by the IHBC/ALGAO/EH’s ‘A fifth report on Local Authority Staff Resources’1 and warn that austerity cutbacks over the past years of Government are taking us closer to ‘reaching a point at which the provision of services designed to safeguard our historic environment is no longer adequate’.2 In the US, we see the October Government Shutdown close more than 300 sites, such as National Parks and Federal historic sites, museums and other cultural institutions – indicating heritage’s expendability and vulnerability. Whether through governance, development pressures (urban, rural and touristic), conflict and catastrophe, lack of resources, or shifts in the practice itself, archaeology in various countries across the globe has found itself in a difficult position. The World Monuments Fund 2014 Watch announced 67 sites from 41 countries and territories which are at risk from such natural, social, political and economic changes and challenges.3
Having reached the 21st century, we need to be more proactive than reactive than ever before. Cities are changing, growing, sprawling and indulging in the heights and depths of a new age that can place it as a successful node on the global map; yonder, buildings and sites are also potentially threatened by abandonment, forces of nature, various conflicts such as looting and/or war, budgetary cuts and closing of relative posts, or even by our very own ‘professional’ hands as a result of financial and time pressures. Archaeology’s Armageddon seems to always be around the next corner, and – to be fair – such paranoia is thriving with threats proven to be very real indeed, seen in action here in the UK - and undoubtedly elsewhere - through recent archaeological issues related to national governance, serious slashes in funding and programmes, dismissive agendas and policies by politicians, and increasing negligence towards sites.
Yet at the same time, inspiringly, recent years have seen a blossoming number of fantastic projects and great efforts by fellow archaeologists and heritage specialists both locally and globally. These initiatives are by no means minor but amount to the collective response to current challenges highlighted above. World Heritage reminds us after celebrating 40 years of the 1972 Convention that ‘the emphasis is on solidarity, the shared aims and collective responsibility of the international community…’ suggesting it ‘crucial that the international community facilitate the exchange of experience and information…’.4 The PIA journal presents a pot of food-for-thought so that we can be a part of a much-needed community of social capital. It is not about ‘publishing lest you perish’, but ‘publishing so as to flourish’ – we want to see and encourage dialogue, peer-review, open access and support.
This volume has been a very exciting endeavour, and the PIA team are very proud and honoured to have worked together with fine contributors, peer-reviewers, and editors – from our very own Institute of Archaeology as well as others around the world – to finally bind it together in one collaborative effort, contributing new and unique research to the greater voice. It is one tiny step forward on the path towards more collaboration that awaits us all.
Working as part of the PIA team provides tremendous gratification: we witness some of the very inspiring, developing and original work that researchers continue to dedicate their time, energy and thought to, supported by a community that welcomes such new promising research. People are continuing to give their time, patience, effort and support – which truly has an incredible impact for both small and larger endeavours. We hope that work of such nature can act as one of many vessels for networking, sharing and communicating between each other both here at home and around the world.
Volume 23 touches on many hot topics. It’s about cities, but also relationships: relationships between the city and archaeologist; between technology and archaeologist; between conflict, literature, authority, and even the relationship between the archaeology of then and now. The volume is also about thinking outside the box, and I am happy to see many contributors raising questions and concerns about previously ignored or easily overlooked areas.
Regarding our forum, led by archaeologist J. J. Carver, I must whole-heartedly thank all the contributors from all over the world who took on the challenge of engaging in a discussion well overdue. We have responses from the US, Mexico, Australia, Turkey, Bermuda and the UK. It is our hope that the forum contributes towards open dialogue and further engagement in managing archaeological sites within an urban context, through being proactive, sharing experiences and examples, and reflections from around the world.
The interview moves into a personal and charming recollection and reflection between three friends - Drs. Cantwell, Rothschild, and Wall - who are amongst the first to be involved with Urban Archaeology in New York City during the 1980s when archaeology began to professionalise. Beginning with their first encounter in archaeology, they discuss how they have seen archaeology change over time and their views on the direction of archaeology. It was quite a unique experience to get these three tremendously influential women together, and we hope that you enjoy the opportunity to see their more personal side.
We then have an absolutely brilliant addition of Moshenska and Salamunovich’s ‘Wheeler at War’ comic strip, which we are so happy to include! We thank the two for thinking of the PIA as a home for such work.
Remaining is a hefty volume of nine research papers, a report, and various reviews presented, covering the range and creative direction that archaeology can take. We start with Lorna Richardson’s article on Digital Public Archaeology, which discusses the potential, role and issues that archaeology on the Internet faces, and what it has to offer in reaching a wider global audience. Following, Jonathan Gardner considers – in a fascinating study – the impact of ‘the fence’ during and after London’s 2012 Games, and how such boundaries play a role in community. We are happy to include Hadas Elber-Aviram, who took on the challenge of showing true interdisciplinary scholarship by taking us on a journey into Urban Fantasy and how archaeology and history may play a role in literature. Hanna Steyne offers us her preliminary research on how we can understand individuals of the late 19th century and the impact of the environment on communities, while Tina Paphitis presents us with a fulfilling discussion about the relationship between folklore and archaeology looking specifically at the site of Cadbury Castle and its folkloric connections with King Arthur. We are also happy to welcome Samuel Hardy, who’s work in Cyprus has provided us with some very insightful understanding of misrepresentation, memory, amnesia and misguided practice that continues to have a very real presence today in various countries. Leah Acheson Roberts takes us on various successful tours demonstrating how sculpture can and should be considered as a valuable medium in exhibitions and museums. We are left with two articles that are guests in our volume: Paul Anthony Brazinski and Allegra R. P. Fryxell, and Kristine Ødeby are part of the PIA’s upcoming Special Online Volume on Medieval Archaeology – and promise a fascinating read, as the former discusses the function of smell and it’s role on relic veneration and spiritual experience, whilst the latter analyses Viking motifs and their reuse. We then have a report by Ahmed Mekawy Ouda who takes us on a detective hunt as he pieces together the puzzle of a tiny artefact, inscribed with the name of Werethekau ‘Great of Magic’.
I leave you here to explore the volume and am certain you will find many fascinating papers we hope will encourage further inspiration, collaborative work and contribution to the field. I send my most sincere thanks to the contributors for their enthusiasm, commitment, patience and– in many ways – being a key part of the team. I would also like to thank the peer-reviewers, who remain anonymous yet selflessly dedicate time and energy to offer their expertise and assistance ensuring that the journal continue with work of high merit and standard. Lastly, I would like to thank the PIA team, Ubiquity Press and the copy-editors who also volunteered their free time within their hectic schedules to help make this possible.
In return, we hope that this journal continues to be a vehicle that encourages and supports your work, efforts and success.
PIA Senior Editor
- English Heritage, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers and the Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation (July 2013). 2013 Annual Report on Local Authority Staff Resources retrieved online at: ⮭
- Rescue response: see ⮭
- World Monument Fund: October Press Conference, see ⮭
- Cave, C, 2013. ‘World Heritage: cooperation, communication and capacity building’, World Heritage No. 67 (April 2013), London: UNESCO: 6–15 ⮭