Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Brill Now Imposes US Standards on Antiquitist Writing

Following the issue of an open letter signed by over 100 academics and endorsed by the Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies organised by Dr Roberta Mazza (Letter to Brill on the Museum of the Bible’s Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments: A Positive Outcome' Faces and Voices Jan 20th 2020), the Brill Statement of Publication Ethics now includes a section on "unprovenanced artifacts".

Brill is a Dutch international academic publisher founded in 1683 in Leiden, Netherlands. It has offices in Leiden, Boston, Paderborn and Singapore. So why, actually, are the only links given to US organizations? ASOR - the American School of Oriental Research (as though nobody else has one), the 'Society of Biblical Literature' is based in Atlanta, Georgia, AIA, Archaeological Institute of America, SCS - the School for Classical Studies was founded as the American Philological Association, and is based in New York University. Do we not have any archaeological bodies in Europe? No schools of classical research at all?

This is despite the fact that some 93 of the signatories of the open letter (from 150 overall) came from outside the USA and presumably a sizeable number of whom already belong to professional bodies and institutions that have their own codes to which they adhere.

Also, is the problem of 'unprovenanced artefacts' only something that applies to 'oriental', 'Biblical' and 'classical' archaeology/philology (done by American organisations)? What about metal detected items from the UK found in the 1990s but not reported to the PAS (even though they may be in, for example the UKDFD)? Are they 'documented' or 'undocumented' items in the eyes of the AIA policy quoted by Brill as their benchmark? Metal detected material from Poland for example, who (in the Brill company) determines the legality of publication by a Polish academic in Brill's series of material deriving from collaboration with metal detectorists? The situation here is complex, who arbitrates? Polish authorities or the AIA?

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