UCL Press, £20
Review Brenna Hassett
A unique addition to the history of British archaeology, Archaeologists in Print is a closely researched examination of the story archaeology has told about itself. It explores archaeology across the 19th- and 20th-century British world, as told in two-shilling children’s archaeology books, breathless biographies, and all the books in between. Dr Thornton does not consign the popular to the dustbin, and so resurrects many of the most interesting archaeological lives, particularly the women who brought archaeology to the wider world by recounting their own adventures.
Through this lens, an exactingly researched account of early British archaeology emerges, one populated not only by academics, but the full cast: local workers, illustrators, assistants, students, magazine and newspaper readers, and even tourists. While the detailed history of popular archaeological writing may be narrowly focused, this volume shows it as a microcosm in which the tides of empire, creeping professionalisation, and even the cult of the academic celebrity can be clearly seen.
This review appeared in CA 345.