A Life in Balkan Archaeology [Paperback]

John Chapman(Author)

ISBN: 9781789257298 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2021 | 240p, H9.5 x W6.7, B/w and color
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A Life in Balkan Archaeology


This memoir is not really about research questions or main conclusions. It tells the story of a boy growing up in Plymouth, Devon, getting excited about archaeology after visits to mainland Greece and Crete, trying to get into Greek archaeology and relocating northwards into the Balkans, where he spent a career in prehistoric research. The chapters alternate between museum/university experiences and my major research projects. The experiences of working in that part of the world as the Third Balkan War was starting were dramatic and a history-style chapter is devoted to these beginnings.

The Balkan prehistoric club in the west is a very small and select group so there is an intrinsic interest about how westerners did their archaeology there and how they interacted with local colleagues. There is also a sense of a ‘colonial relationship’ between westerners knowledgeable about theory and method, with well-stocked libraries and large research grants and easterners with little of the above. On a basic level, the memoir presents stories with implications for east–west relationships that will soon disappear from living memory. The ways that research projects originated and developed are strongly featured and there is a fund of anecdotes about prehistorians living and dead. The publication of this memoir records those fragments of the discipline’s history that are in danger of being lost forever. But my life story is not erased from this account, which is not an anthropological work but, rather, a participant account with a modicum of relevant personal details. The book providing the archaeological results is the publication Forging identities in the prehistory of Old Europe. Dividuals, individuals and communities 7000–3000 BC – a synthesis of academic research in Balkan prehistory. This memoir provides the insider story to the research results.

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of plates
Image credits

1. Growing up
2. Undergraduate days
3. Postgraduate days
4. Museum intermezzo
5. Newcastle upon Tyne
6. The Neothermal Dalmatia Project
7. The background to the Third Balkan War of 1991–1995
8. The Upper Tisza Project
9. The fragmentation breakthrough and other broken stories
10. Working in the European Association of Archaeologists
11. Life in Durham
12. Research in the Balkans in the 2000s
13. The Ukrainian Trypillia Megasites Project
14. Looking back – looking forward

Further reading

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