Article first published online: 4 FEB 2013
© 2013 The Author. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology © 2013 The Nautical Archaeology Society
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology
Volume 42, Issue 1, page 1, March 2013
How to Cite
(2013), Editorial. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 42: 1. doi: 10.1111/1095-9270.12006
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 4 FEB 2013
Readers may have noticed two changes on the title page of this volume: Paula Martin's name is joined by my own for this transition edition as, after nearly ten years, she retires as editor and I take on the post. I thank her for showing me the ropes and for her continued support. Praise for Paula's work has come from many colleagues, not least George Bass, whose name is no longer listed with the Advisory Editors as he has retired from the role. He wrote: ‘IJNA has grown, especially under Paula, into a respectable scholarly journal in which anyone would be proud to publish.’ We thank him, too, for the advice he offered the previous editors over many years.
I will be following Paula's good work and encouraging publication of articles from contributors worldwide and from all involved in the study of nautical archaeology, and I was delighted to meet many of the journal's readers and contributors at the 13th International Symposium of Ship and Boat Archaeology in Amsterdam last October. Christer Westerdahl introduced the conference theme of Ships and Maritime Landscapes by calling for a broad contextual approach that takes account of recent theoretical advances to move beyond the ‘overwhelming preponderance of technology’ as an explanation of change. He concluded with a quote from Ole Crumlin-Pedersen's 1998 Archeonautica article: ‘Ships are … too important to be left to ship archaeologists alone’. By the end of the week, though, delegates were voting with their feet, with greater numbers opting to attend sessions dealing with the nitty-gritty of construction rather than the parallel landscape session which many found extremely thought-provoking. That said, Jon Adams was quick to remind us that a landscape approach is simply a way of placing boats and ships in their context—a means of getting to the people behind the fabulous artefacts that nautical archaeologists study.
Of course, the detailed analysis of a particular ship's construction can allow the diligent researcher a particular understanding of the thoughts and actions of a single person: the shipwright who built it. Only after the death of J. Richard Steffy, renowned for his masterly archaeological ship reconstructions, has his son Loren written in a biography—reviewed here by Colin Martin—of his father's imaginary discussions with the Kyrenia shipwright he named Aristides and his fumbling apprentice. Steffy spoke aloud; Artistides’ responses were found in the artefact. Surely such conversations with the past are what all archaeologists seek? So do nautical archaeologists need a cultural landscape approach? Or, as one ISBSA delegate suggested rather pointedly, should maritime landscape archaeology be cast off as a sub-discipline in its own right and allowed to drift between its component parts of economic, communication, power, environmental, cognitive and ritual archaeologies?
On a recent BBC programme, broadcaster, physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski revived philosopher Isaiah Berlin's 1953 interpretation of a line written c.700 BC by Greek poet Archilochus to classify scientists and the way they research. The poem reads: ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing’. Maybe we have a case of foxes and hedgehogs here. While the hedgehogs will strive towards complete knowledge of watercraft construction and development, the foxes set about examining these artefacts in the context of the multi-layered landscapes described above. Their methods are complementary. Each thrives and develops theories building on the data produced by the other. It is therefore of upmost importance that this information is passed between them at meetings such as ISBSA and through publication.
IJNA will always publish detailed descriptions and discussions of boat and ship construction, particularly where comparative studies can be called on to elucidate a tradition or development. IJNA will also continue to be a place where maritime landscapes are explored in all their multi-faceted intricacies, because only through context can we extract the greatest understanding of the wider past.