Whither Modern Archaeology?

Archaeology continues to be an irresistible lure to publishers, broadcasters and the general public. The 1990s saw an extraordinary number of spectacular finds across the globe and equally spectacular revelations from ever more sophisticated lab techniques. Brian Fagan, who has taught archaeology since the 1960s, reviews the brave new world of modern archaeological discovery.

Part of the romance of discovery comes from the personalities of the major archaeologists of a century ago. Hollywood’s Indiana Jones is said to be a composite of at least three genuine excavators of yesteryear. Many of the great discoverers were compelling figures, such as Leonard Woolley of Ur (1880-1960) or Harriet Hawes (1871-1945) who excavated the Minoan village at Gournia on Crete almost alone in the first years of the twentieth century, when the site was inaccessible except by mule; or palaeoanthropologists Louis (1880-1960) and Mary Leakey (1913-96) of Olduvai Gorge fame.

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