Last month, my Department hosted the launch for my latest co-edited book: Archaeologists and the Dead, published by Oxford University Press. The book contains a wide range of original studies exploring mortuary archaeology’s interactions with contemporary society in the field, in the museum and in popular media and material culture. I’ve posted about the publication before here and here.
First, we had a research seminar by my collaborator in archaeodeath – Dr Melanie Giles of Manchester University. She delivered a fascinating and nuanced talk about the interpretation and display of Iron Age bog bodies, focusing on Worsley Man and Lindow Man.
Then, our Dean of Faculty, Professor Rob Warner, launched the book. Wine was quaffed, burgers and beer was then consumed, and a photo op transpired.
Incidentally, we’ve just read the first review of the book. Dr Jo Appleby of Leicester University has recently reviewed our book in the Times Literary Supplement and she kindly summed it up with the following appraisal:
While Archaeologists and the Dead represents, above all, an attempt to understand attitudes to the dead on the part of the public, special interest groups, archaeologists and museum professionals, it also engages with other issues, most notably how the dead are displayed in museums. Unexpected facts (in Austria, overdue stickers are attached to gravestones when the lease expires, and ossuaries were shut in the nineteenth century to prevent people using the skulls to predict winning lottery numbers) are interspersed with engaging and sensitive discussion. Howard Williams and Melanie Giles have produced a book that will be of interest to professionals and general readers alike.
It seems that our book will stimulate debates within and beyond the profession, and in this regard, I think we are fair to regard the book as a success. It was just a pity that more of the authors who put so much effort into the book couldn’t be there to help us celebrate! Sadly, they are far-flung around the globe, but that did leave more archaeodeath booze for the audience!