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On the bulletin board, archaeologist Anna Simandiraki describes her notion of 'branding' in archaeology--meaning, I think, the classifications of objects, theories, and individuals in ways that restrict or define what those objects, theories and individuals are. She reports that such branding can "promote, claim or exploit national, institutional or personal cultures", and asks if anyone else has found that to be true in their archaeological or academic life.

It's definitely an interesting question: how many of us identify ourselves as a type of archaeologist? I'm a public archaeologist, myself; what does that mean in terms of my identity? Does this characterization, self-imposed I suppose as it is, describe, or rather define what I decide to investigate? I think so. Does it describe what others classify me as? I also think that's true.

How about you? Does Branding in Archaeology affect your decisions and work?


April 13, 2006 at 1:50 pm
(1) Stan says:


I agree with you.

There’s an Egyptologist and archaeologist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art whose specialty is architecture. He’s published his own scholarly works on the subject. And whenever possible, he contributes essays to special exhibition catalogues that have an architectural component to them, as in the catalogue for “Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh.”
His description of Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri is one of the best ones that I have read in years.

April 13, 2006 at 2:22 pm
(2) Trevor Fowler says:

I think an archaeological branding identified with a specific region or era suggests a certain baseline of knowledge on the subject. Self-identification with a specific high-level theory (processualism, marxism, et al.) would have to influence an archaeologist’s research and data interpretation to a certain degree, however small. I don’t see this as necessarily a bad thing: knowing that an archaeologist’s bias is directed a certain way, one can be more consicious of it’s effect on the archaeologist’s interpretations and conclusions. We can identify and understand the perspective, and use that in our own interpretations and conclusions.

April 13, 2006 at 4:10 pm
(3) Kris Hirst says:

Speaking as somebody who is just getting into the science writing biz, I have noticed that at least when you’re trying to find people to comment on a paper, you go by what is determined to be their brand. Whether that is established by the journal or the paper’s authors or by the hapless science writer, you still need to find and recognize ‘expertise’.


April 13, 2006 at 5:49 pm
(4) Kris Hirst says:

Troels on the European Journal of Archaeology site is announcing a call for papers on “Resisting Archaeology” which may be of interest to the folks in this discussion.



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