Great Excavations: Shaping the Archaeological Profession

Great Excavations: Shaping the Archaeological Profession


Edited by John Schofield

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  • Publisher: Oxbow Books
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 182mm x 250mm x 26mm | 839g
  • Publication date: 28 May 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 1842174096
  • ISBN 13: 9781842174098
  • Illustrations note: 146 b/w and col illus
  • Sales rank: 485,222

Product description

Great excavations inspire and capture the imagination of both the public and archaeologists alike; sites like Danebury, Sutton Hoo, Maiden Castle, Mucking and York conjure images of great discoveries and leaps in knowledge. But what was it like to participate in these excavations? What is the story of these projects, and what made them great? This is a fascinating and entertaining retrospective documenting some of the seminal British excavations, assessing why they were so significant and why they persist in the memory and folklore of archaeologists today. It is also a social history of the profession and one that should stir memories and dispel (or corroborate) some urban myths that younger archaeologists may be aware of. An impressive list of authors and projects make this a significant contribution to the history and development of British archaeology over the course of the twentieth century. Fourteen chapters describe specific projects: Sutton Hoo, Birdoswald, Maiden Castle, Winchester, Owslebury, Danebury, The Breiddin, Wroxeter, Haddenham, Howe, York, Mucking, West Heslerton and Wharram Percy; six further chapters provide a thematic overview, covering early excavations, the IFA, English Heritage and the commercial sector. The world of archaeology has changed dramatically over the past twenty-five years, not least in becoming a profession. One of the clear messages of this book is the requirement for archaeology that great excavations continue in the future, to inspire another generation of archaeologists. The scope of archaeology may have changed, and the methodologies with it. The politics of excavation have changed too, with a more commercially driven and professional endeavour. But it is still, typically, the direct physical engagement with earth, artefacts, place and people (of the past and the present) that draws us in. This is why excavations matter, and why they can be great.

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Review quote

The most systematic and wide-ranging attempt so far to write a social history of archaeology as we have known it over the last fifty years... Eighteen authors (all of them Fellows) address the question what makes a great excavation, and their answers collectively chart the experiments, the grand dreams and schemes, the methodological advances, the weather, the dig rituals, the food and the drink, the parties, the passions and the personalities of the now semi-mythical excavations that served as a rite of passage for so many young people, especially during the late 1960s to the early 1980s, such as Hambledon Hill, the Somerset Levels, Oswlebury, Winchester, Sutton Hoo, Maiden Castle, Danebury, Wroxeter, Coppergate, Mucking and Wharram Percy, South Cadbury, Birdoswold, Howe, Haddenham, Grove Priory and many more.'--Christopher Catling"SALON - The Society of Antiquaries Online Newsletter" (01/01/0001)