Amara Thornton, Archaeologists in Print: Publishing for the People (London: UCL Press, 2018) 312pp. £40.00 Hb. ISBN: 978‑1‑78735‑259‑9 £20.00 Pb ISBN: 978‑1‑78735‑258‑2 Free Open Access ISBN: 978‑1‑78735‑257‑5.
Amara Thornton's Archaeologists and Print: Publishing for the People (2018) examines the intricate and nuanced relationship between archaeologists and publishers in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Acknowledging the multifarious forms of publications and the different types of media that were pertinent to the dissemination and reproduction of archaeological knowledge such as 'newspaper reports, exhibitions, lectures, radio broadcasts and books’ (2), Thornton elucidates how archaeologists navigated the role of the author by using these different mediums to disseminate their discoveries and how this ‘archaeologist-author’ role was crucial to shaping their ‘cultural perceptions’ (3) during these periods. Thornton’s study is rich in original archival research conducted across various institutions such as the Penguin archive, John Murray archive, UCL Special Collections, Bodleian Library and the National Library of Israel which renders this book a pioneering contribution to the History of Archaeology.
In the introductory chapter, Thornton illustrates how the politics of the nineteenth-century impacted the relationship between publishers and archaeologists during this time. Contextualizing her research from the 1870’s when the British imperial expansion facilitated a surge in expeditions, she describes how publishers begin to gain authority in responding to the increase in demand for travel narratives as a result of these expeditions by categorising their interests for specific archaeological topics. For example, 'Macmillan's Handbooks on Archaeology and Antiquities provided a venue for classical archaeologists to reach those who were familiar with and interested in the classical world' (8) while 'Series produced by the Religious Tract Society [.] enabled archaeologists to reach readers interested in the Bible and the lands and peoples described therein’ (8). Her research also reveals how archaeologists too had a wide network of publishers that they were connect to. David George Hogarth for example published with a few publishers including John Murray, Lawrence and Bullen and William Heinneman. In the following chapter, Thornton deconstructs what it means to be an archaeologist. The crux of this analysis lies in her contention of the importance of universities and institutions such as archaeological and antiquarian societies in shaping the archaeological experience by providing access to ‘archaeological education, training and research’ (45).
In the third chapter, Thornton brings visibility to various professional roles that women were involved in. From taking on positions as tour guides, publishing, travelling, writing, lecturing and campaigning for excavation funds she unravels how female archaeologists
were not only excavators but in performing these different roles, they were vital in publicizing and making archaeology accessible to the wider public. In the first half of the chapter, Thornton explores the archive of women working in the field of Egyptology. Focusing on the legacies of female archaeologists who established themselves at ‘home’ this section offers a detailed analysis of the careers of Mary Broderick, Sophia Lane Pool, Amelia Edwards and Helen Tirard. In her profile of Helen Tirard for example, she draws on the wide networks that Tirard was attached to. From lecturing on Ancient Egypt in the British Museum’ and lecturing at King’s College London from 1890, to publishing a guidebook’, Sketches from a Nile Steamer in 1891, Tirard’s professional career as Thornton reveals was emblematic of the multifarious roles that women took on throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is the uncovering of rich archival evidences of the lives of these women that renders Thornton’s discussions a crucial development from existing scholarship dealing with women and archaeology namely Margarita Diaz- Andreau’s Excavating Women (2012) and Cheryl Classen’s Women in Archaeology (1994).
Chapter four looks more closely at how archaeologists marketed themselves in serials and compendiums. Thornton makes a case for the significance of newspapers and periodicals in in popularizing archaeology. She argues that ‘The range of newspapers and periodicals featuring archaeologists and archaeological research was wide, from cheap daily papers in London and ‘the provinces’ (76). Using a case study on the career of Flinders Petrie and articles surrounding his work in newspapers, Thornton reveals how the 19th Century Newspapers database is an efficacious resource for unearthing articles surrounding the profiles of archaeologists during this time. The fifth chapter continues the discussion of the circulation of archaeological knowledge. What is interesting is Thornton’s exploration of how libraries played a crucial role in disseminating archaeological knowledge. The increase in public libraries in 1890 meant that more people could access archaeological texts for free (125). Libraries would also ‘advertise their latest acquisitions in local newspapers’ (125). The appearance of popular archaeological texts in these adverts such as Annie Quibell’s Wayfarer in Egypt (1929) meant that these publications would reach local audiences- suggesting a wider reach of the circulations of archaeological texts.
Chapters six, seven and eight deals with the relationship between archaeologists and three publishing houses: John Murray, Macmillan and Company and Penguin (170). Thornton lauds Penguin as ‘the most iconic publishing enterprise of the twentieth century’
(169). She articulates her point by noting that Penguin not only published a wide range of genres- from fiction by Agatha Christie to the nonfiction Pelican series but the way in which they marketed their books was distinctive. Efforts such as selling their paperback publications for sixpence to make fiction accessible to a wider range of budgets’ and the ‘strong visual attraction’ of their paperbacks proved to appeal readers of diverse backgrounds to their archaeological publications (169, 171).
The concluding chapter turns to archaeological productions in the literary form. Fiction, she contends ‘allowed the archaeological experience to be reinterpreted, reformed and projected in the cultural imagination (188). Exploring the representations of archaeological writing through the genres of romance, horror/fantasy and crime, Thornton establishes the eminence of fiction as a useful tool in ‘scripting spadework’ (209). In the epilogue, Thornton addresses the issues of academic publishing in the contemporary state. While she acknowledges the elitism in academic presses, the accessibility of digital open access platforms such as UCL Press which published Archaeologists in Print remains pertinent to widening the access of archaeological knowledge. It is this critical examination of the multifaceted nature of popular archaeological publishing from the late nineteenth-century and the original archival research that Thornton incorporates through her analysis which offers readers a critical insight into the history of archaeologists in print.
Subha Robert William, King’s College London