The archaeology of somewhere-else: A brief survey of Classical and Near Eastern archaeology in Australia

22nd November 2013

Margaret O’Hea


It all started in Sydney. This is no more Sydney-sider’s chauvinism. If the institutional pursuit of Classical or Near Eastern archaeology began anywhere in Australia, it was begun by two men: A.D. Trendall and J.R. Stewart. Individually, the created to strands of scholarship, Classical and Near Eastern, respectively, which on the one hand established Australian-based archaeological scholarship for the first time in an international field, and on the other, started an academic tradition which has since expanded far beyond the pseudo-Gothic halls of Australia’s earliest university. The more familiar tradition of Australian making their name overseas may have been famously personified by V. Gordon Childe—another Sydney alumnus—in London in the 1940s, but this was not an academic trail that was to produce future Australian scholars. Universities are old-fashioned in the way that scholarship is transmitted. Master and apprentice, professor and post-graduate: for all the disadvantages and nepotism that often accompany it, this is a generational inheritance, and ‘success’ can be gauged as much by the strength of an established flow of archaeologists as by the output of a single, world-class scholar. What follows, then, is a very abbreviated history of the institutional development of the archaeology of the Classical and Near Eastern cultures within Australia. The story of the wider, public interest in archaeology has been told in parts elsewhere (see, for example, Merrillees 1990). If this history centres upon Sydney University, it is only because that institution neatly encapsulates wider trends; and if the work of any Near Eastern of Classical archaeologists has been overlooked in this attempt to summarise the great diversity of research by Australian scholars in the twentieth century and beyond, it is a result of dumb oversight rather than intentional slight by the author.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

O'Hea, M.
The archaeology of somewhere-else: A brief survey of Classical and Near Eastern archaeology in Australia
June 2000
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