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Archaeoastronomy & Ethnoastronomy News


Number 27 March Equinox 1998

United we Stand: A New Arrangement
by John Carlson, David S. P. Dearborn, Stephen C. McCluskey, Clive L. N. Ruggles

For two decades, the Center for Archaeoastronomy has published the journal Archaeoastronomy. It has served as an outlet for refereed articles studying the practice, use, and meaning of astronomy in non-western cultural contexts. A broad range of topics, including indigenous cosmologies, measurement systems, calendrics, navigation, and even settlement planning, have found expression under the headings of archaeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy, and history of astronomy. During that period, the journal has evolved as this interdisciplinary field matured. With the development of this newsletter to provide timely information on new publications and conferences, the principal task of the journal has become scholarly articles and book reviews.

More recently, ISAAC, the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture, was established as a professional organization to promote the academic development archaeoastronomy. The goal of this society is to enhance the professional status of archaeoastronomy by forming ties with existing international, regional, and national academic bodies, assisting the development of projects in cultural astronomy, organizing meetings, and promoting a journal devoted to astronomy in culture in its widest sense. This last goal is being realized as ISAAC joins with the Center for the publication of the journal Archaeoastronomy.

Under this new arrangement, editorial duties will be divided among the four of us, removing much of the burden from John's shoulders. Beginning early next year, the labor will be further reduced as the University of Texas Press becomes the Journal's contract publisher. Under UT press, the Journal will be a semiannual with each issue containing 5 or 6 refereed articles of 10,000 words, and UT Press will asume layout, printing, and distribution responsibilities for the publication. The annual cost of the Journal is expected to rise from $36 to $40 for individual subscriptions, but this is a very modest increase when balanced against the benefit of a regularly-appearing journal.

With interest in archaeoastronomy ariseing from multiple disciplines, we will continue to accept a broad range of articles. We will focus on high standards of scholarship, as well as writing that is intelligible across the disciplinary boundries. While we feel that the four of us provide a reasonable cross- section representing disciplinary views, we are currently forming a board of advisory editors to further assist us. We have begun soliciting this advisory board from leading researchers in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, astronomy and history. As the title implies these individuals will serve as spokesmen for their disciplines, and provide guidance on the substance and content of the Journal.

As the Journal already exists with a considerable subscription base, we are maintaining the title, Archaeoastronomy, but adding a subtitle "The Journal of Astronomy in Culture". The term archaeoastromy has occasionally been tarnished through its association with marginal work, but it is an established term that also encompasses interdisciplinary work of the highest scholarly standards. With this journal, we intend to maintain a forum where researchers can find high-quality articles of relevance to broader issues in a range of mainstream disciplines.

While scholarship is important, it can not be an excuse to stifle controversial ideas when they are based upon sound evidence and presented to academic standards. Some papers may be provisionally accepted under the condition that they be accompanied by an appropriate response. The advisory board will assist us in deciding when such a response is important. We feel that such exchanges will help our diverse community better understand the basis of and concerns about new ideas.

In preparation for the first issue under the new arrangement (Vol 14, No 1), we will be hard at work flogging John to finish Volumes 12 and 13. These volumes will contain the long overdue papers from the First International Conference on Ethnoastronomy and will be the last ones published independantly by the Center. The first new issue will contain a number of solicited articles addressing major themes, questions and issues in archaeoastronomy from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. They will suggest new questions that set an agenda for future research. The second issue of Volume 14 will also contain solicited articles, this time with regional overviews. In Volume 15, we will resume publishing submitted articles on a regular basis.

Together, the Center and ISAAC, with our new partners at UT Press hope that this arrangement will improve the dissemination of information on archaeoastronomy for the next 20 years, as well as providing a bridge between disciplines.

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Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.