Weekend Reading: Archaeology in Trouble

It’s fair to say that I’m not much of a political animal. It’s not that I’m not interested in politics; it’s more that I have a tremendous dislike of politicians, and a built-in distrust of political parties. I don’t even feel disappointed when something awful happens, because I don’t expect any better. Maybe I spent too much time with Tacitus in my formative years.

So you won’t ever see any party politics or political campaigning from me. I pick my battles, and that’s one I choose to stay away from.

But political issues tend to filter down, and then they bother me. On a university level, there are political manoeuvrings which have a direct effect on the quality and accessibility of the teaching that is done in this country. Having spent the last 20 years trying to make education more accessible to everyone, I find it very difficult to watch the destruction of excellent departments by university management – and that’s what is happening now. There are two archaeology departments in the UK – Chester and Sheffield – which are currently being threatened with redundancies and closure, despite being high-performing departments with superb initiatives, and they may well turn out to be the first of many.

This bothers me on a personal level, not because I know the people involved, but because I know what it’s like to receive ‘at risk’ notices of redundancy – I get them every year, and every year I have to make my back-up plans. After all these years it still doesn’t get any easier, and it’s not a situation I would wish on anybody.

So this week I’d like to ask you a favour. If you’re comfortable with it, and can spare a couple of minutes, would you consider adding your name to the petitions below? The more public support these departments can attract, the more likely it is that their universities might think again. It’s certainly worth a try!

Sign the Sheffield petition

Sign the Chester petition

Smol Dragon is pitching in to help too.

Further reading

Chester open letter – Archaeology Chester

Save Sheffield archaeology: resources – Save Sheffield Archaeology

Stonehenge research at risk if Sheffield department closes – The Guardian

Sheffield set up to fail – The Tab

Finally, just a quick thank-you to Pam for the flowers which have cheered me up every day this week, and to John in Singapore for the unexpected delivery of lovely wine, which will power me through a weekend of much work. I really do have the nicest readers!

This week from around the classical Internet


Roman artefacts sell for £185,000 – BBC

Novel of prostitutes in Pompeii – The Daily Mail

Nero exhibition and fake news – Sunday World

Stolen Pompeian frescoes returned – The Guardian

Comfort Classics

Campbell Price: an offering table of Queen Tiye

Comment and opinion

How did Athens get its name? – The Collector

The Great Philosophers: Aristotle – The Independent

Classics Listserv racism – Mixed Up In Classics

Souvenirs of Nero – A Don’s Life

Animal sentience law and Plutarch – The Spectator

Napoleon and stolen art – Hyperallergic

Greeks, Romans and football – Antigone

Greek Literature and Frederick Douglass – Antigone

Palimpsests – Antigone

Podcasts, videos and other media

The Achaemenid Empire and the Mediterranean – Ithaca Bound

The Great Kings – The Ancient World

Lyric and lyre of Greece and Rome – The British School at Rome

Suetonius on the buildings of Rome – The British School at Rome

by Andrew Sillett on Twitter

6 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Archaeology in Trouble

  1. I signed both petitions, it really is the pits how all university teaching staff are treated, it makes me so cross, I think it’s even worse than FE and that’s saying something… Every teacher and lecturer everywhere should be offered permanent contracts, it is total exploitation and it is the lowest of the low to treat teachers like this. It makes my blood boil.


    1. …and by teacher I mean lecturers, associate lecturers, whatever the name given… Tutors etc I learnt from a manager in one of the FE colleges I taught in, that lecturers are often called tutors because there is some diabolical law that says tutors are on a different pay scheme and basically are not paid as much, so the politcs is often it seems in what the post is called… Another blood boiling thing…

      Liked by 1 person

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