chapter  7
THE UNEASY DIALOGUE BETWEEN ANCIENT HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY
ByRAY LAURENCE
Pages 15

Major changes have taken place in the interaction of the disciplines that study the human past. The numbers applying in Britain to study for a joint honours degree in ancient history and archaeology continue to rise and are at present on the verge of outnumbering applicants for single honours degrees in either ancient history or archaeology. The reason for this is that the prospective student has grown up in a world that does not differentiate between archaeology and history. There is a demand amongst the student body for a joint approach, and universities have responded with imaginative course structures. However, the way in which these degrees are taught across the UK is far from integrated. As a discipline, archaeology is firmly rooted in the human and physical sciences; in contrast, ancient history is located within the humanities usually within a classics department – a home that places a particular emphasis on the reading of texts. The degree structure is derived from single honours degrees in archaeology and ancient history with a reduction of each element to cause it to be manageable in three years and

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towards equality of learning for students taking joint degrees, as an increasing number of archaeology departments realize the advantages of science-based funding. The aims of the degrees are set out in two separate benchmarking documents produced by practitioners within the two academic disciplines and published as gospel via the Quality Assurance Agency, subsequently being combined to produce the learning outcomes of the joint degree in ancient history and archaeology. Students taking the degree report back that they develop a certain academic schizophrenia when writing coursework for each department. However, on graduation, these students may be the ones who will be able to combine the two disciplinary approaches more effectively than their single honours counterparts who have a narrower vision of their subject. This is particularly true of those who are studying Roman archaeology. What prevents a full integration in postgraduate study is an unwillingness of institutions to value the interdisciplinary premise under which MA and doctoral activities need to take place, and most students are forced into one or other academic department with a toehold in the other. Often, the forcing of individuals into one or other department is arbitrary and follows an instinctive competitiveness of departments for resources, whether financial or ones of prestige.