British Archaeology - September/October 2011
FROM PREHISTORY TO THE PRESENT
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Convention says our first road network was built by the Romans. A new excavation has challenged this assumption for the first time. See feature on page 14
It’s a busy time in the news world, with 10m people said to be facing starvation in east Africa, financial crises imminent on both sides of the Atlantic, a fanatical killer in Norway and the Arab spring heading into an Arab autumn. Britain has been deeply affected by the unfolding horrors of the connivance of some tabloid journalists, police and politicians.
Amidst such momentous events, you might think archaeology becomes irrelevant. As the Times’s Michael Cudlipp once said to Norman Hammond (page 12): “It’s been in the ground for four thousand years, another couple of weeks won’t matter!”
Yet somehow the past does seem to matter, even – sometimes especially so – when people’s lives are uprooted, as recent events in Egypt and elsewhere have shown.
I am writing this at the end of July. It’s nearly the end of the Festival of British Archaeology, two weeks of events and exhibitions across the UK that have drawn many thousands of people. The festival, one of the Council for British Archaeology’s great achievements, shows that many seek an attachment to place and an understanding of time – both attained through considering ordinary people long gone, and the different worlds they inhabited – that add depth and meaning to the present.
July 29 was the world’s first Day of Archaeology, in which 400 archaeologists signed up to blog about their days. One of them was the Guardian’s Maev Kennedy. “Really”, she says, “how could any journalist not want to write about archaeology?”
And how, we might add, could anyone not want to read about it?
This issue’s contributors include
Tim Malim joined SLR Consulting in 2006 to help build an archaeology and cultural heritage team. In 2009 he directed the excavation of a Roman road in Shropshire, with controversial results: see page 14
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere researches historic east Asian arts and crafts at the Sainsbury Institute and the British Museum, but on page 32 she introduces a project that took her deep into contemporary Japanese culture
Stuart Brookes is a Leverhulme Trust research associate at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, looking for signs of early medieval state formation on the ground. On page 46 he and colleagues describe their findings
Radiocarbon dates Unless otherwise noted, 14C dates are calibrated at 95% confidence (cal AD or cal BC, expressed as AD or BC). See britarch.net/lie (the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit) and Radiocarbon Dating, by S Bowman (British Museum 1990)
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