A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Volume 63 Number 4, July/August 2010
An Editor's Farewell
On the eve of my retirement as editor in chief of this magazine, I ran into art historian Eleanor Guralnick, a lifetime member of the AIA's Chicago Society. She was leaving a lecture hall at the institute's annual meeting in Anaheim, California, and seized the moment to praise the magazine as "far more interesting" and "considerably more readable" than it used to be. "What have you done to make it so much better?" she asked.
Naturally, I was delighted to talk about our vastly improved magazine, whose highly professional writers and editors have transformed what once was a struggling bimonthly with 100,000 subscribers into a highly competitive magazine with a readership in excess of 700,000.
Hiring these aggressive, gifted journalists has paid off in better-written, better-edited articles on a wider range of subjects than ever before, many exclusive to the magazine—Eti Bonn-Muller's report on the first Minoan shipwreck ever found, Samir S. Patel's trek into the hills of southern India to visit a little-known site with thousands of prehistoric megaliths, Jarrett A. Lobell's haunting cover story on the world of bog bodies, and Zach Zorich's probing look into the probability of cloning a Neanderthal, all brilliantly designed by our notably inventive art director, Ken Feisel.
Add to these triumphs of writing some extraordinary feats of editing—Patel's delicate touch with Anthony Aveni's analysis of the Maya 2012 doomsday scenario, Eric A. Powell's imaginative presentation of the Top 10 Discoveries of 2009, and Zorich's work with freelance writer Heather Pringle on a range of captivating stories including an exposé of a secret massacre that helped lead to the conviction of Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity.
Looking ahead, ARCHAEOLOGY is embracing the digital age under the capable leadership of AIA Online Editorial Director Mark Rose. The editors are committed to a host of new opportunities for extending the magazine's reach—more interactive material, more video, and more features on a sophisticated website; digital versions of the magazine; foreign-language editions; and the wonderful new world of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. In sum, our readers are no longer just subscribers or newsstand buyers, but rather an ever-expanding worldwide community of archaeology enthusiasts.
But one thing will never change if ARCHAEOLOGY hopes to be competitive in the new media environment. In whatever form it takes, the magazine must be unrelenting in its efforts to convey the excitement of archaeological research with stories that inform and surprise, and that have a marked relevance to the world of today. What could be more relevant than a magazine whose mission is to reinterpret and even rewrite the history and prehistory of humanity?
I am retiring as editor in chief after 23 rewarding years working on memorable articles written by some of the best storytellers in the business. I shall miss my staff, the archaeologists and freelance science writers who have contributed so much over the years, and, not least, the pure joy of pursuing the wonderful world of the human past.
Peter A. Young, Editor in ChiefShare