So You Wanna Find Some Reference Materials for Archaeological Sites

This can be hard.  Archaeologists are notorious for publishing their work decades after excavations, and I know of some site reports at Grand Valley that still haven’t been published in thirty years.  However, there are some great sites out there to help out a researcher struggling to find field reports or objects, and this gal is here to share them with you.  This list is going to have a particular emphasis on classical archaeology, but a lot of these can be used for archaeology all over the world.

Let’s start with the easiest one.  JStor is a tried and true favorite among students, and let me tell you, I’ve been using this site since I was in middle school and it rarely lets me down.  It’s got articles and findings galore, and covers just about every academic topic you can think of.  The downside is that this is an academic database, and even a non-profit site needs money to keep the servers up.  You’ll either need to be a student whose school subscribes to the database, or a person willing to bite the bullet and pay yearly for its services.  Some schools will let you use it if you get a visitor’s pass in their university libraries, so it’s worth looking into whether your local university subscribes to it.

Next is L’Année Philologique.  Now this is an exclusively classics-oriented database, but it is truly a classicist’s 2nd best friend (after JStor of course).  It’s got articles about every classics related topic you can think of, including archaeology.  I’ve never seen a full site report published on here, but I’ve been able to get some great articles that pull from site reports and work just as well.  These articles are also great for cite-farming, since they usually include the original site reports in their bibliographies.  LAP is another subscription-based database, so you’ll either have to pay the fiddler or figure out which university has your nearest classics department to use their online library.

So I’ve presented two paying databases, but get ready for a completely free source online.  The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites is a free online book compiled in 1976 by a bunch of scholars around the world. Each entry is on a known site with Classical interest or ancient remains, with the site’s excavation progress included. Sites are given the original ancient name, or, when that is unknown, a name indicating the site’s features of interest.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since 1976, and a lot of work has been done in the Mediterranean since then.  It’s definitely a great place to start, but just keep in mind that you’ll have to do some more digging after using this as a starting point.

This next one is pretty cool, and also completely free.  Pleiades is basically a free community-built interactive map of archaeological sites.  There are over 35,000 archaeological places of interest listed.  For instance, if you search “athens,” a page about the city will come up titled “Athenae.”  It tells you the URL of the page for easy reference, its contributors, different names of the site, and the archaeological places of interest within and around the city.  It will also give you further reference suggestions for research on the place of interest.

Dyabola is another useful site that works as a database for citation searches.  I don’t tend to use it myself because of its odd interface, but the content is tailored for research in classical archaeology.  There are also trees of subject headings you can refine your search with, which can help you find more specific results for your topic.

World Archaeology is another useful website because of its authority on archaeological news.  You won’t find any information on a specific site, but it is a great place to start if you’re having trouble finding a starting point for your research.

Anthropology Plus and AnthroSource are two other databases provided by universities that specialize in all types of anthropology around the world.  Therefore, this could include cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and – most importantly – archaeology.  If you refine your search, perhaps you may come across something useful (I know I have!).

So there you have it!  I hope these prove to help you in some way if you don’t have easy access to a physical library.  I know some of them may be hard to access without using a University’s library, but at least you don’t have to order for them!




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