Welcome to our online celebration for Cardiff University’s Archaeology 100! Over the next week, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s photos, reading about your memories of student life, and seeing what you’ve accomplished since graduating – whether that was 50 years ago or last year! I know the current staff members are excited to share their current work with you throughout the week as well – many of them also Cardiff alumni! Today we are starting by sharing fun photos and memories from the past century, but first, I’d like to address our not-so-fun past.
This event marks the 100th anniversary of the Archaeology department at Cardiff University (then University of Wales). We are proud of the longevity and the legacy of the department; we are proud of the influence of our alumni on the wider discipline. However, with that, we must acknowledge that archaeology has a history of looting, colonialism, and discrimination. These unethical behaviours are woven into the very foundation of our discipline, and require a conscious effort to dismantle today. Although these issues plague the discipline beyond our university, we must take responsibility for our role in past behaviours, if we are to push the field forward from within our own department.
This week is intended as a celebration, but it is my hope that we can use this space for critical reflection too. We have come a long way from 1920, and that deserves to be recognised. But there is still work to be done. We are fortunate to have staff and students who are passionate about making archaeology and history more accessible to all, and I’m especially looking forward to sharing some of their projects throughout this week. As wonderful as they are (and they really, really are!), we cannot rely on a few individuals to do most of the work. As archaeologists, we must confront our collective past and hold our friends and colleagues accountable going forward, including archaeologists who are no longer in the heritage sector (once an archaeologist, always an archaeologist!) and those in positions of power. While this event focuses on the positive aspects of our history and legacy, we should remember what we have overcome and what we have yet to overcome (the latter of which is the topic of our December event).
I truly believe there is something special about the Archaeology department at Cardiff University. In addition to my own experiences as an undergraduate and post-graduate here, I was the one lucky enough to read all your stories and see all your pictures in preparation for this week. Community, practical teaching, and mentorship were repeated themes in the reflections I received from the alumni community. These values have sustained us for 100 years, and they will be what we take forward into the next 100 years Going forward, we will need to expand our idea of community, of mentorship, of who and what we teach. It may be challenging at times, but I don’t think any of us did archaeology because it was easy!
Finally, I hope this week is energising. I hope you come away from our celebration proud of how far we’ve come, proud of the work we are doing now, and ready to represent Cardiff Archaeology as we push the field forward some more. At a time when we are largely isolated from each other, I hope this week connects you to your Cardiff community, provides some laughs, and a place to reminisce together.
CHEERS to 100 Years!
PhD Candidate and (one of the) Arch100 Organisers