The Barriers to Archaeology: Past Publications and the “old” Literature

Posted on April 5, 2011


‘Entry level costs barrier’ is a term used in the business world to describe the minimum amount of money that needs to be invested to get a business up and running. For example, to start a pizza delivery company you would have to rent a shop, buy/rent on oven, and buy tools of the trade e.g. pizza pans, pizza cutters, mixer. All these costs added together would create the minimum amount of money someone would have to invest to start a company and enter that particular market. Some professions have low entry costs, like lemonade stands, and others have high entry level costs, such as construction or mining.

Now, let’s say you wanted to enter the teaching of archaeology market, what sort of costs would you have? There are the usual costs of buying or renting a building, obtaining teaching supplies, and general infrastructure. One cost you would have to deal with, and the focus of this post, is obtaining past journal publications.  This is needed so your students can conduct literature reviews and learn about previous discoveries. This is also important for current research as many excavations notes and reports only exist in journal articles. Since archaeology is a destructive process and excavations can not be re-examined, archaeologists are dependent on the journal article on the excavations of X conducted by Y in 1938. This is also why you can not be cheap and only procure the journal articles for the last 5, 10, or 15 years as many of the old publications contain information that can not be obtained anywhere else.

So how much would it cost you to obtain the back issues of archaeology journals? I conducted some rough calculations. First, I gathered a list of 79 archaeology journals, in English, still being published. I have included the list at the end of this post. I then went to the Periodicals Service Company website and looked up the costs for complete sets of all of the journals up to their publication walls. The Periodicals Service Company seems to be the default provided for most large publishing companies and thus the industry standard.

Not every journal had the complete back volumes available, so I calculated what the likely cost would be.

Ex. 5 volumes available for $100 =  $25 per volume a total of 25 volumes = 25 x $25 = $625 for the complete back volumes.

Also, some of the journals are open access, have back issues included in the subscription to the journal, or can be accessed on JSTOR so they were not included in this first count. Moreover, not all of the journals were available on the website so I had to track down their past issues on other websites, usually the publishers website, to determine prices. The result was a total of 53 journals representing a total cost of $132,550 (£82,843 with £1 = $1.6).

For the titles offered from JSTOR the results are a little more tricky as they bundle their journals. I examined the bundles and determined that to get all of the publications on the list one would have to obtain bundle Arts and Sciences II, Arts and Sciences VI, Arts and Sciences VII, and Arts and Sciences IX . The costs range by the size of your learning institute which means the cost could be:

II- $4433.6- $6589.2


VII- $3893-$4715.8

IX- $1258

That means in total the entry barrier is between $145,743 ($132,550+$13193) and $149,664 ($132,550+$17114)

or £91089 and £93540.

150K might not seem like much but that is still a significant dollar amount, especially considering how tight budgets are these days.

It should be noted that this does not include the journals that have ceased publication or are primarily in a language other then English. Including these journals would only raise the costs. Furthermore, this list was only journals that deal primarily with archaeology but there are many more journals that have archaeology papers published in them.

Yes, there are many other costs associated with creating an archaeology program but this defiantly is an expensive hurdle to overcome. Of course you could pick and choice which titles you would want instead of ordering the complete back volumes of every journal. For example, if you just wanted to focus on south-east Asia it would be possible to cut out some journals such as KIVA or Latin American Antiquity etc. Even then, it still could still get pretty expensive.

If we want to see more archaeology departments or programs opened then there needs to be a way to access back issues without spending so much money. Probably, the only way forward would be to create more open access journals with all of their back content on-line (if someone wants to print this off there is nothing stopping them ether). That or convince more journals to make at least their back content open access. There would be lots of advantages for this but that is for another post.

Acta Archaeologica $8,560.00
African Archaeological Review $4,120.00
African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter JSTOR
American Antiquity JSTOR
American Journal of Archaeology JSTOR
Anatolian Studies JSTOR
Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia $2,800.00
Ancient Mesoamerica $8,030.00
Andean Past $200.00
Annual of the British School at Athens JSTOR
Antiquaries Journal, The (1-81 online for free) $1,890.00
Antiquity $143.00
Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy $3,020.00
ARCHAEOASTRONOMY: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture $611.00
Archaeologia Polona
Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences $250.00
Archaeological Dialogues $1,500.00
Archaeological Prospection $3,000.00
Archaeological Review from Cambridge $643.00
Archaeologies $750.00
Archaeology in Oceania JSTOR
Archaeometry $4,720.00
Archeologia E Calcolatori
Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association
Asian Perspectives: The Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific $3,880.00
Assemblage- The Sheffield graduate journal of archaeology
Australian Archaeology JSTOR
Before Farming- The archaeology and anthropology of huter-gathers
Britannia $2,800.00
Cambridge Archaeological Journal $2,120.00
Environmental Archaeology: The Journal of Human Palaeoecology $1,540.00
European Journal of Archaeology Includes back issues in price
Geoarchaeology $5,850.00
Hesperia JSTOR
Historical Archaeology JSTOR
Industrial Archaeology Review $4,250.00
International Journal of Historical Archaeology $1,960.00
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology $5,860.00
International Journal of Osteoarchaeology $4,100.00
Internet Archaeology $1,500.00
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology $5,800.00
Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory $3,200.00
Journal of Archaeological Research $3,350.00
Journal of Archaeological Science $5,950.00
Journal of Caribbean Archaeology free
Journal of Conflict Archaeology $550.00
Journal of Field Archaeology $3,060.00
Journal of Irish Archaeology JSTOR
Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology $330.00
Journal of Maritime Archaeology $600.00
Journal of Material Culture with subscription
Journal of Nordic Archaeological Science $153.00
Journal of Pacific Archaeology free with sub.
Journal of Roman Archaeology free with sub.
Journal of Social Archaeology Includes back issues in price
Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt JSTOR
Journal of the British Archaeology Association $2,000.00
Journal of World Prehistory $4,400.00
Latin American Antiquity JSTOR
Levant free with membership
Medieval Archaeology $4,270.00
Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry free
Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology $960.00
Near Eastern Archaeology JSTOR
North American Archaeologist With sub.
Oxford Journal of Archaeology $4,550.00
Post-Medieval Archaeology $4,260.00
Public Archaeology $1,200.00
Radiocarbon with sub.
Rosetta Journal free
SAA Archaeological Record free
SAS Bulletin free
Tel Aviv $3,920.00
The European Archaeologists free
The Goodwin Series JSTOR
The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology JSTOR
The South African Archaeological Bulletin JSTOR
World Archaeology JSTOR
Yorkshire Archaeological Journal $9,900.00