Old Armenian Shoe Raises Hope for Archaeology in PLoS ONE

The Public Library of Science publishes a number of peer-reviewed Open Access research journals, most of which specialise in some specific field within the natural sciences. But PLoS ONE has a much wider remit within the sciences. When it first opened a few years ago, I looked for archaeology in it and was disappointed. But now you get 121 hits when you search the journal for “archaeology archeology”. This means that PLoS One might be a potential publication venue for research in my discipline.

So, what sort of archaeology does PLoS One publish? Well, just because a paper mentions the word, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the archaeology is a central concern. Looking at the 30 most recent papers of those 121, only one is mainly directed at answering archaeological questions in an archaeological manner, defined as variations on “What was it like to live a long time ago?” approached from an artefactual, non-textual source material.

Ron Pinhasi et al. titled their 2010 paper “First Direct Evidence of Chalcolithic Footwear from the Near Eastern Highlands“. “Chalcolithic” means “Copper Age”, that is, the Late Neolithic when copper had become sparsely available but metalworkers had not yet started alloying it with tin to make bronze. The paper presents a well-preserved shoe found in Armenia and dating from c. 3500 cal BC. It’s made from a single piece of cow leather, stuffed with hay, size 37.

The other 29 papers mentioning archaeology mainly treat research in other fields where archaeology is touched upon only briefly or used to support work with other goals. A case in point is a paper where some volcanologists try to figure out how far from a pyroclastic surge you have to be in order not to get fried, and look at archaeological documentation from Pompeii. Then there’s lots of palaeogenetics papers where ancient population movements are traced with only the briefest of nods to archaeology.

But still, that Armenian shoe paper might equally well have been published in Antiquity (or Fornvännen if the find had been made in or near Scandyland), and that sets a precedent. I conclude that if your archaeological work has a nat-sci component to it, as almost all of our fieldwork-based publications have, it may be worthwhile to submit it to PLoS ONE.

[More blog entries about , ; , .]


4 thoughts on “Old Armenian Shoe Raises Hope for Archaeology in PLoS ONE

  1. This paper also got picked up by the CBC radio program Quirks and Quarks, which interviewed Pinhasi for their June 12th show. Not sure if popular science programs affect the impact factor of a paper or journal, but it’s nice to see they consider those papers on par with those they discuss from other major publications like Nature.


  2. Peter, I’m sorry, but none of the papers Nisha Doshi discusses there is archaeology since none of them studies artefactual evidence. It’s all paleobotany, paleogenetics etc. My discipline isn’t defined only by the age of the studied material.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s