Who are we?
We are a couple of real archaeologists (Keith and James) fed up with the distorted view of the past that passes for knowledge in popular culture. We are unhappy that journalists with no knowledge of the methods, aims, techniques and theories of real archaeology can sell hundreds of times more books than real archaeologists. We do not appreciate news programmes that talk about ley lines as if they are real. In short, we are Angry Archaeologists.
One of us is Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, who began work on a version of this site as part of his personal home pages as long ago as 1999. Keith is a local authority archaeologist in North Hertfordshire with a long-standing interest in Bad Archaeology and who has grown increasingly concerned at the profession’s evident unwillingness to deal with it. He is also worried at the growth of anti-Enlightenment attitudes during his lifetime, which he worries may return us to a Dark Age of superstition-based belief.
The other of us is James Doeser, who is currently trying to finish his PhD in government and archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. James is interested in the way efforts to increase public understanding of archaeology (museums, media, tourism etc.) collide with a the belief that everybody has a right to understand the past in whichever way they want. We can’t all be right, can we?
What gives us the right to criticise the work of others?
Bad Archaeologists have rarely – if ever – gone through the years of training that we have, which has given us a broad knowledge of what archaeological evidence can and cannot tell us about the past. We are not members of an Establishment frightened by new ideas that will push us from our positions of authority, as we do not have positions of authority! Rather, we are ordinary archaeologists who are passionate about the past and hate to see it misrepresented by those who are out to make money from it or to gain control over the gullible and poorly informed.
How come you are experts on every aspect of archaeology?
We don’t claim to be! Archaeology is a set of methods and theories as well as a great, ever-expanding encyclopaedia of knowledge. Our critique of Bad Archaeology is founded more on knowledge of method and theory than actual expertise in specific periods and places. Should they be required, we know where to look for the experts and their knowledge!
Do you want to put people off archaeology?
We don’t! We want to encourage all people to enjoy archaeology and (where possible) take active part in it. An archaeological perspective is one which values a critical approach to claims made of meagre evidence. This website should not deter people from discovering more about the past. The archaeological process can sometimes throw up controversial or problematic results: this is part of the joy of science.
The Council for British Archaeology is probably the best place to start. It has details of local groups, lectures and excavations as well as publishing the monthly magazine British Archaeology.
Another good source is Current Archaeology, which publishes a guide to digs available to volunteers and other participants.
If you want to work as a professional archaeologist then the British Archaeological Jobs Resource has lots of advice about training and education (as well as plenty of warnings about what it’s really like to be an archaeologist!).
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