Life-writing in the History of Archaeology

Critical perspectives

Edited by Clare Lewis and Gabriel Moshenska


ISBN: 9781800084520

Publication: July 10, 2023

Life-writing is a vital part of the history of archaeology, and a growing field of scholarship within the discipline. The lives of archaeologists are entangled with histories of museums and collections, developments in science and scholarship, and narratives of nationalism and colonialism into the present. In recent years life-writing has played an important role in the surge of new research in the history of archaeology, including ground-breaking studies of discipline formation, institutionalisation, and social and intellectual networks. Sources such as diaries, wills, film, and the growing body of digital records are powerful tools for highlighting the contributions of hitherto marginalised archaeological lives including many pioneering women, hired labourers and other ‘hidden hands’.

This book brings together critical perspectives on life-writing in the history of archaeology from leading figures in the field. These include studies of archive formation and use, the concept of ‘dig-writing’ as a distinctive genre of archaeological creativity, and reviews of new sources for already well-known lives. Several chapters reflect on the experience of life-writing, review the historiography of the field, and assess the intellectual value and significance of life-writing as a genre. Together, they work to problematise underlying assumptions about this genre, foregrounding methodology, social theory, ethics and other practice-focused frameworks in conscious tension with previous practices.

Gabriel Moshenska is Associate Professor in Public Archaeology at UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Clare Lewis is a lecturer (teaching) in Arts and Sciences at UCL.

List of figures and tables
List of contributors

Gabriel Moshenska and Clare Lewis

Part I: Critical perspectives

1 Biography in science studies and the historiography of archaeology: Some methodological guidelines
Marc-Antoine Kaiser

2 A plea for 'higher criticism' in disciplinary history: Life-writing sources in the history of German-speaking Egyptology
Thomas L. Gertzen

3 Toward a prosopography of archaeology from the margins
Thea De Armond

4 Crafting an institution, reshaping a discipline: Intellectual biography, the archive and philanthropic culture
Jeffrey Abt

5 An epistolary corpus: Beyond the margins of ‘official’ archives, T.E. Peet’s First World War correspondence
Clare Lewis

6 Archaeology, social networks and lives: ‘Dig writing’ and the history of archaeology
Bart Wagemakers

Part II: Sources and networks

7 The accidental linguist: Herbert Thompson’s contribution to Egyptian language studies traced through his archive              Catherine Ansorge

8 Margerie Venables Taylor (1881-1963): An unsung heroine of Roman Britain?
Martha Lovell Stewart

9 Father Alfred-Louis Delattre (1850-1932) versus Paul Gauckler (1866-1911): The struggle to control archaeology at Carthage at the turn of the twentieth century
Joann Freed

10 Hugh Falconer: botanist, palaeontologist, controversialist
Tim Murray

11 Personal and professional networks in early nineteenth-century Egyptology: The letters of Conrad Leemans to Thomas Pettigrew
Gabriel Moshenska

12 Life-writing Vere Gordon Childe from secret surveillance files
Katie Meheux

Part III: Reflections on practice

13 Alternative narratives in the history of archaeology: Exploring diaries as a form of reflexivity
Oscar Moro Abadía

14 Archaeologists, curators, collectors and donors: reflecting on the past through archaeological lives
David Gill

15 The ghosts of Mary Ann Severn Newton: Grief, an imagined life and (auto)biography
Debbie Challis


Format: Hardback

Size: 234 × 156 × 33 mm

428 Pages

1 B&W table, 1 line drawing, 2 B&W line drawings, 22 colour photo/halftones, 23 colour illustrations, 27 B&W photo/halftones, 3 diagrams, and 31 B&W illustrations

Copyright: © 2023

ISBN: 9781800084520

Publication: July 10, 2023

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