Japanese contrasts

It was good seeing the archaeological field services in Osaka and Nara recently. Some major differences with the UK. For a start the term archaeologist is only applied to those with qualifications and in supervisory, managerial positions. Finds specialists and excavators are supporters and labourers. Archaeology is organised almost as an industrial process with specialisation of tasks and personnel in a way that is more rigid than in the UK. The amount of money and facilities devoted to archaeology is impressive. There is a commitment to public communication and engagement which is highly commendable, and the two museums we saw had superb galleries on archaeology aimed at young people and schools better than most things I’ve seen in the UK. On the other hand, there is a major concentration on typologies, and a process driven ethos that I’m not sure involves time for reflection on the purpose for archaeology. But there seems to be greater integration between archaeology units and museums, and I like the idea of local authority archaeology services being placed within education directorates (and the fact that units are run by local authorities). As always, I want to know more and explore in more depth the similarities and differences between archaeology in the UK and Japan. I definitely feel that archaeologists in both countries would benefit form an exchange of ideas and experiences.

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About donhenson

I am freelance consultant archaeologist specialising in public archaeology, interpretation, education and the media.
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