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UCL events news and reviews


Archaeology and the Media: A Special Relationship?

By news editor, on 27 February 2012

The first of five topical debates about archaeology and heritage in a contemporary world, “Archaeology and Media” proved to be a lively and engaged discussion about the role of media in archaeology and the role of archaeology in media.

The event, held on 20 February, was chaired by Maev Kennedy (arts/archaeology correspondent, the Guardian), and featured Alexander Langlands (presenter of BBC2’s Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm and Tales from the Green Valley), Caroline Norris (producer, Horrible Histories), David Keys (archaeology correspondent, the Independent) and Charles Furneaux (Managing Director of Kaboom Film & Television, former commissioning editor, Channel 4).

As archaeology struggles to find its place in the current era of restricted funding, with a dominant focus on the economic value of STEM subjects, the topic of archaeology and the media is particularly relevant.

My interests in the history of archaeology in the late 19th and early 20th century cover a period in which government support for archaeology was nearly non-existent – a useful parallel for negotiating today’s market driven attitudes to scholarship. In the past, archaeologists used print media, film, exhibitions and marketing to raise money for research from a variety of stakeholders, including major industrialists.


Nasty, Brutish and Short? Re-making the Early Middle Ages

By news editor, on 14 February 2012

Professor Andrew Reynolds’ lecture in the 75th Anniversary Inaugural Lecture series (on 6 February) was as crowded and full as any of the previous four – and a number of luminaries were in the audience with long term interests in Andrew’s work.

The Director’s introduction drew attention to Andrew’s achievements and academic history – and also reminded the audience that, apart from the contribution he has made in a remarkably short time to medieval archaeology, he is also an accomplished craftsman and a former pop star.

This tour de force of an introduction was both informative and wide-ranging, reminding the audience of Andrew’s particular attributes as well as about the role of medieval archaeology in the Institute.

Andrew offered a brief synopsis of his own career, paying tribute to the debt he owed his parents in allowing him so much leeway. He explained his growing interest in archaeology, and particularly initially fieldwork in terms of both excavation and landscape, with a return to his native and much-loved Wiltshire.


The Social Impact of Climate Change: An Archaeologist’s Perspective

By news editor, on 6 February 2012

Review of Professor Arlene Rosen‘s Inaugural Lecture on 30 January by Dr Andrew Garrard (UCL Institute of Archaeology).

With increasing concern about global warming and climate change and its impact on future human generations, Arlene Rosen’s inaugural lecture as Professor of Environmental Archaeology was particularly pertinent.

In this elegantly structured and very well illustrated presentation, she discussed an archaeologist’s perspective on the impact of climate change on societies at various stages in the past, and their frequent social and technological resilience and adaptability to environmental change.


Towards a New Egyptology?

By news editor, on 30 January 2012

David Wengrow on Stephen Quirke: ‘Object of Egypt: Outside the Time Frame’, held on 23 January.

In his inaugural lecture as Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology, Stephen Quirke – who is also Curator of UCL’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology – delivered a radical and highly personal vision of the future of Egyptology.

Invoking Walter Benjamin in On the Concept of History, Professor Quirke explained to a full auditorium how the collection, for him, is a problematic legacy of foreign (and often unwelcome) intervention in Egypt’s cultural past: an assemblage of unstable “monads”, overflowing with tensions and “waiting to explode”.

The talk began with the Arab Spring, moving back through the history of Egyptian archaeology, viewed not just from the standpoint of European scholars and explorers, but also through the eyes of Egyptian observers such as Al-Jabarti.