Communication between the practitioners of the two disciplines [history and archeology] is still often difficult.
Five years ago Jan Vansina asked historians whether archeologists were their siblings. The question seems to have been rhetorical, since Vansina himself offered the opinion that, at least “when archaeologists offer specific reconstructions of history, as they often do in their site reports, they are historians.” However, he also admitted that archeology “is a discipline in its own right.” Since no historians were sufficiently riled by these assertions to offer a response to Vansina's article, we must assume that archeologists are accepted, though not necessarily with open arms, in the family of historians. But what did archeologists say about their adoption? Nothing it appears, though perhaps many archeological practitioners missed Vansina's article because it was published in an historical, not an archeological, journal. I stumbled across the article a couple of years ago and plunged in with both anticipation and trepidation. Which archaeologist could resist reading a critique of his discipline by a respected historian? My feelings turned out to be justified. I was both excited and a little dismayed by what I read, though I was relieved to find that my own archeological efforts in Uganda were favorably viewed by the eminence grise.