Guide to Archaeology
Resources and Journals in the Library
Clifford T. Brown
Department of Anthropology
Some of your professors may ask you to complete assignments using reliable or valid sources. Finding and recognizing authoritative sources is one foundation of critical thinking. Peer-review is one technique that scholars use to ensure that publications meet scientific standards. Peer-review doesn’t guarantee that the conclusions of an article are true, but it does help improve the quality and reliability of publications by checking their methods, sources, and arguments. Your professors may explicitly require you to use peer-reviewed publications, but even if they don’t say it, they may expect it.
Because archaeology is such a broad field—its coverage ranges from the arts and art history to the humanities to the social sciences to the natural sciences—it is difficult to predict where you will find articles. Some very significant archaeology articles are published in prestigious general science journals such as Science, Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the Public Library of Science-One (PLoSOne), and others. Occasionally, archaeological articles are published in specialized non-archaeological scientific journals, such as journals on chemistry, geology, or spectroscopy.
There are also many hundreds of archaeology journals published around the world. Because archaeological sites and cultures are localized phenomena, there are local and regional archaeology journals all around the world. For example, most states in the United States have their own archaeology journals. In Florida, the journal Florida Anthropologist publishes many archaeology articles. There are also regional journals, such as Southeastern Archaeology, the Archaeology of Eastern North America, Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology, and California Archaeology.
If you review the list below, you will notice that the top journals are often published by professional scientific societies. This is true in many fields, not just archaeology.
If you’re looking for peer-reviewed articles for your archaeology class project or term paper, you should consider the ones the following list, which includes the most important peer-reviewed journals in the field. We have included a range of journals in following list, but there are many, and the list is therefore not complete. All of these journals are available through the library web site.
American Antiquity. This journal is published by the Society for American Archaeology, the major professional society in the United States. It is an important general journal. Some consider it the premier archaeology journal in the country. Published since 1935, these days it mostly publishes articles on North American archaeology, but it used to publish articles on Central and South American archaeology too. It continues to publish the occasional article on Old World archaeology. Some of its articles focus on method or theory more than on a particular site or region.
Latin American Antiquity. Like American Antiquity, this journal is also published by the Society for American Archaeology. The journal was founded in 1990 by the Society for American Archaeology to focus on the archaeology and prehistory of Latin America. Some articles are in Spanish. Since Latin American Antiquity began publication, American Antiquity has largely ceased publication of articles on Latin America.
American Anthropologist. American Anthropologist has been published by the American Anthropological Association since the late 1800s. It is a general anthropology journal in the American tradition, meaning that it publishes contributions in all four fields of American Anthropology: cultural anthropology, linguistics, biological anthropology, and, of course, archaeology. So, there is plenty of archaeology in this journal, even though the words “archaeology,” “antiquity,” or “prehistory” do not appear in the title.
Journal of Archaeological Science. This journal has the highest impact factor of any in the field. The journal is published by the Society for Archaeological Science. “Archaeological Science” is the term used to refer to the application of natural science methods to archaeological questions. So, the articles include a lot of case studies in which chemistry, physics, geology and other allied sciences are used to address archaeological problems. Some of the articles are quite technical, but the journal is of high quality, and it is widely read and highly cited around the world.
Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. This journal publishes articles on method and theory in archaeology, as the title suggests. The articles are often longer than those in other journals, and they include some topical reviews.
Journal of Archaeological Research. A general archaeological journal that publishes longer reviews of current research.
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. A well-known journal with a focus on cultural evolution and other scientific anthropological theories.
Journal of Field Archaeology. Originally conceived in the 1970s as a venue for publishing field reports, this journal has evolved into a general archaeology journal with world-wide coverage, although it still emphasizes field work.
Cambridge Archaeological Journal. A good general archaeology journal that emphasizes symbolic, social, and cognitive archaeology but with broad geographic and topical coverage.
World Archaeology and Prehistory
World Archaeology. World Archaeology is a general archaeological journal that has been published since 1969. As its title suggests, it covers the whole world. Unlike in most journals, each issue focuses on a single theme. If the themes selected by the editors interest you, you will find this a congenial journal. If they seem to have skipped your particular interests, then you will not find it a helpful publication.
Journal of World Prehistory. This journal, which has been around since 1987, focuses, like World Archaeology, on the whole world. Also like World Archaeology, the Journal of World Prehistory has an unusual format: it publishes one or two long review articles in each issue, although recently it has started publishing more varied fare, including special theme issues.
Historical Archaeology. This is the premier journal in the United States that focuses on historical archaeology, that is, the archaeological investigation of peoples and cultures who lived during the historic period, which is to say, since the advent of historical records in the region. It is published by the Society for Historical Archaeology.
International Journal of Historical Archaeology. This is a newer journal focused on historical archaeology. It does have somewhat more international coverage than Historical Archaeology but that may be in part because it is published by a European commercial publishing house, Springer.
Journals on Special Topics
Geoarchaeology. As the name suggests, Geoarchaeology publishes articles on geoscience applications in archaeology. So, the emphasis is on geomorphology, soil studies, geophysical prospecting, and the like.
Radiocarbon. This journal specializes in issues related to radiocarbon dating.
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. Underwater is archaeology is still a pretty new field, having really started only after the invention of the SCUBA gear during World War II. This journal, which seems to be the original journal in the field, is therefore not very old. It focuses on the archaeology of shipwrecks and is international is scope.
Journal of Maritime Archaeology. A newer journal on underwater archaeology.
American Journal of Archaeology. This old and prestigious journal is published by the Archaeological Institute of America, the oldest archaeological society in the country. The journal started publishing in 1897. For many years, it has focused almost exclusively on Classical Archaeology, that is, ancient Greek and Roman archaeology. Although quite interesting, Classical Archaeology is a small field (compared to the rest of the world); therefore, the journal is somewhat narrow in scope.
American Journal of Archaeology and of the History of the Fine Arts. Published by the Archaeological Institute of America from 1885 to 1896, this was the predecessor of the American Journal of Archaeology. Like its successor, it focused strongly on Classical Archaeology.
Oxford Journal of Archaeology. This journal covers both European and Classical archaeology.
Local and Regional Journals
As I mentioned in the introduction, there are many local and regional archaeological journals around the world. They are far too many to list, even if we limit ourselves to those to which the library subscribes. Therefore, we only mention a few of the more prominent ones.
African Archaeological Review. Obviously, this journal focuses on the archaeology of the African continent, but with an emphasis on the sub-Saharan region. It does not generally cover Egyptology, which has its own journals.
Ancient Mesoamerica. This journal covers the archaeology, prehistory, historical archaeology and ethnohistory of Mesoamerica, the culture area that spans central and southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and parts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy focuses on the Arabian Peninsula and the immediately surrounding region.
Near Eastern Archaeology. Near Eastern archaeology includes the archaeology of Sumeria, Akkadia, Assyria, and Mesopotamia in general, including neighboring areas of the Iran and Turkey. This journal, formerly entitled Biblical Archaeology, covers the region, although with a bit of a religious slant. It’s a glossy, popular magazine, but most of the articles are peer-reviewed. It is published by the American Schools of Oriental Studies.
Ñawpa pacha. Ñawpa pacha is one of the few journals on South American archaeology. It focuses on the Andean region. It is hard to search for electronically because of the énye.
Archaeology in Oceania (and its predecessor Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania) is a prominent and well-established journal that covers the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand.
Non-peer-reviewed journals. Beware!
Archaeology. Archaeology is a glossy, popular magazine that has been published by the Archaeological Institute of America since 1948. Although it is published by a venerable professional society, it is NOT peer-reviewed; the articles are mostly written by journalists rather than by the investigators themselves.
National Geographic. Similarly, despite its fame, National Geographic does not generally publish peer-reviewed articles. Once upon a time, it published articles written by researchers themselves, but that does not seem to be common now.
Smithsonian. Sadly, the journal of our National Museum does not publish peer-reviewed research articles. The pieces in this glossy, attractive magazine are written by journalists.
Peer-reviewed (or nearly peer-reviewed) journals that don't look like it
Scientific American. This venerable journal claims to be the oldest continuously published journal in the United States. Its original scientific articles, as opposed to its news content, are usually written by genuine experts in the field, who are reporting on results that have previously appeared in the peer-reviewed literature. So, while it's not peer-reviewed, it's pretty close, and I would let you cite it for my classes.
Natural History. The journal National History is published by the American Museum of Natural History, and unlike its rival down in Washington, D.C., it is peer-reviewed, even though it is a glossy magazine written in an engaging and accessible style. Like the Museum itself, it has a fair amount of archaeology in it.
American Scientist. This journal is published by Sigma Xi, "the scientific research society." It's a glossy and accessible general science magazine. The website says, that "nearly all American Scientist feature articles are written by research scientists about their own peer-reviewed work or work to which they are significant contributors." So, like Scientific American, it does not claim to be peer-reviewed, but in reality it comes pretty close. It does not cover archaeology too frequently, but you may find useful bits in it.
How to find archaeology articles
Google Scholar. (http://scholar.google.com) Google Scholar does a great job of popping up articles on whatever topic you list. Sometimes it links to a full text copy of the article, which may be available through FAU’s paid electronic journal subscriptions. Sometimes it just provides the citation, which you can look up in our library databases. Never forget that sometimes FAU has paper copies of journals on the shelf that are not available electronically. To find these, search for the journal name in the library catalog (not the list of electronic journals) and write down the call number. Then go to the library building, find the journal, and read the paper copy, or make a photocopy (or scan) of the relevant pages.
Anthropology Plus. Anthropology Plus is a commercial database to which the University subscribes. It is not free. Therefore, if you want to use it, you will have to sign in to EZProxy if you are not on a University computer. Go to the library home page, www.fau.edu/library, click on the indexes/databases link on the left, click on the letter “A” and then scroll down to Anthropology Plus. Anthropology Plus combines two other sources of information with a search screen. The two other sources of information are the catalog of the Tozzer Anthropology Library at Harvard University and the Library of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal Anthropological Institute has laboriously indexed many the articles in the journals they receive. They have a great collection of journals, but of course it is not complete, nor have they indexed the whole collection. The librarians of the Tozzer Library have (again, laboriously) indexed book chapters published by separate authors in edited volumes. The Anthropology Plus database combines both of these databases to create the best single source of information about anthropology articles, at least in English, in the world. Because it draws from two databases that sometimes overlap in their coverage, Anthropology Plus will sometimes give you two hits for the same article, so don’t be surprised. That doesn’t mean there are two articles, just that the same article appears twice in the combined database. Note that Anthropology Plus is NOT a full text database; it just provides the citation. Then you have to go find the article somewhere else.
JSTOR. JSTOR is a full text database that includes the back issues of articles from thousands of prominent journals. It covers archaeology quite well. The University pays for a subscription to the database, so to get the articles you have to sign in through EZProxy if you are not using a University computer. You can search JSTOR effectively through its website, but Google also does a good job of drilling down into it. Note that JSTOR rarely has the most recent issues of journals because it is designed as an electronic repository for journal back issues. Therefore, if you are looking for the most recent research on a topic, don’t rely on JSTOR.