Archaeology without frontiers

The international contacts of 20th-century Spanish archaeology

Research project MINECO-Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Plan Nacional I+D+i, nº ref. HAR2012-334033

The aim of the project is to take in-depth look at the impact that relations with scholars from other countries had on Spanish archaeology in the twentieth century. The idea is to break with the various myths that have become firmly established in the histories of Spanish archaeology: – Firstly, that Spanish archaeologists were the passive recipients of new information coming from other countries. – Secondly, that during the long period of the Franco regime these experts were almost completely isolated internationally.
Our research aims to confirm with data the impressions obtained from our own previous investigations. Although it cannot be denied that Spanish archaeology was to a large extent a victim of what some describe as scientific colonialism, mainly at the hands of the French, German, British and American archaeologists, the reaction of the archaeologists in Spain was not passive; in fact they took advantage of the external financing for their own scientific and academic purposes. Moreover, far from the view of a Spain with closed borders, the data compiled to date appear to indicate that Spanish archaeologists had established personal contacts and scientific exchanges with their colleagues in the rest of Europe, which are practically forgotten today and need to be brought back into the open.
These personal relations favoured the holding of major international conferences in Spain, which we will analyse from that perspective in our research.

On the other hand, although we know that Spanish archaeologists travelled abroad in the first three decades of the century thanks to JAE grants, we know little about much of the subsequent period when they continued to travel thanks to a range of possibilities offered by institutions such as the CSIC and universities. Also of importance was their participation in UNESCO’S international campaign to save the monuments of Nubia.

Another subject we will study in depth in this project is how the political regime affected the nature of the academic relations between Spain and the surrounding countries.
Our proposed study methodology is based on three main area:

– The compilation, study and critical analysis of the printed sources in bibliographies found in Spain and other countries.
– Archival research
– Oral history