chapter  9
23 Pages

WOMEN IN BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY Visible and invisible

BySara Champion

In the history of women's contribution to the development of archaeology in Europe, British women are present from the early antiquarian years, though many of them need rescuing from the obscurity to which later histories of the discipline have consigned them. The development of antiquarian studies in Britain, and the gradual emergence of a distinct group of archaeologists, came about not only through the national societies which had their parallels in other European countries, but also through the foundation during the nineteenth century of many county archaeological societies and the consequent fostering of widespread amateur interest in the excavation, recording and appreciation of archaeological monuments. It is among the membership of these societies, and associated with the antiquarian investigation of indigenous monuments, that we find some of the earliest women archaeologists. But they also number among the travellers, scholars and excavators in Egypt and the Near East where, in common with similar developments in other European countries like France, Italy and Germany, a fascination with the 'exotic' and an interest in identifYing places mentioned in the Bible, led first to treasure hunting and later to more systematic excavation, in some cases generated by institutions like universities or archaeological 'schools' abroad which eventually came to provide for the education in archaeology of both men and women.