Today, I did the regular ritual of tearing open the packaging of the latest issue of American Antiquity like it was a late Christmas present. I quickly skimmed the table of contents and immediately zeroed in on the “Grand Challenges for Archaeology” article written by a whole host of established intellectual heavy-weights.
In terms of overall content, I thought they touched on a bunch of great topics. For those of you without a subscription, the co-authors organized the various topics into five themes:
1) emergence, communities, and complexity
2) resilience, persistence, transformation, and collapse
3) movement, mobility, and migration
4) cognition, behavior, and identity
5) human-environment interactions
More importantly, they didn’t take the “we’re the EXPERTS, and this is what we think you should think is important” approach. Instead, they attempted to crowd-source the problem by sending out questionnaires through various outlets.
Herein lies the rub…
“Older professionals were much more likely to respond than younger ones, with over twice as many responses from those 50 and older (66 percent) as from those ages 30-49 (32 percent). The main demographic disappointment was the sparse response from younger archaeologists and students (2 percent). [page 7]”
As a person who is just a couple of years older than the primary demographic disappointment age bracket, I immediately muttered, “What the f@#$ happened here?”
How did my generation drop the ball on this one? Would the content of this piece be any different if us younger folks had stepped up with more frequency?
That is not a rhetorical question. Any and all thoughts are welcome.
Kintigh, Keith W. (and 14 others)
2014 Grand Challenges for Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(1):5-24.
UPDATE: I think the topic of how the authors sampled has been covered. If you decide to comment, please address if/how the content of the article could have been different had it included a larger sample of younger respondents.