History of Archaeology

Sébastien PLUTNIAK
Marzena WOŹNY

The aims of the 'History of Archaeology' commission are to encourage and support historical research on the history of prehistoric and protohistoric archaeology, all over the world and at any time. This commission is, by definition, interdisciplinary: it offers a research space at the interface between the archaeological and history-of-science research communities.

A black and white photograph of an archaeologist standing in a large excavation trench.

In 1865, the first international organization for prehistoric archaeology was founded in La Spezia (Italy) as the Congrès international d’anthropologie et d’archéologie préhistorique (CIAAP). It was active until the First World War, when it was dissolved due to the rivalries between nations. A new organization was created in 1931, in Bern, to continue this international effort, the “Union Internationale des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques / International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences” (UISPP). Since then, it has grouped together all branches of science related to prehistoric and protohistoric studies: archaeology, anthropology, palaeontology, geology, zoology, botany, environmental sciences, physics, chemistry, geography, history, numismatics, epigraphy, mathematics and others.

Research into the mechanisms of adaption and the dynamics of human societies lies at the heart of the UISPP’s scientific interest. The UISPP therefore periodically organizes a world congress of prehistoric and protohistoric sciences and creates scientific commissions devoted to specific research issues.

One of these commissions is devoted to the History of Archaeology. The members of this Commission are experienced researchers who approach the history of archaeology beyond strictly national boundaries. The composition of the Commission observes a broad international representativity. Its members originate presently from sixteen different countries, on three continents. The aims of the Commission are:

  • to document the history of pre- and protohistoric archaeology, from its first establishment up to the present;
  • to encourage scientific research in the field, emphasizing transversal and international perspectives, and moving beyond specific traditions, factions, and overly presentist or hagiographic approaches.

In its activities, the Commission observes and enforces the basic principles of historical scholarship, with a special commitment to avoid any political instrumentalization. The Commission endeavours to develop historiographic scholarship for the benefit of reflexive archaeological perspectives.

Insofar as the UISPP seeks to reflect the scientific community as broadly as possible, the Commission will avoid the deliberate and exclusive channeling of historical research for partisan theoretical ends. The Commission commits itself to proposing a specialized session at each Congress of the IUPPS, and also to organise at least one relevant scientific event per year. As appropriate, these events may be set up in partnership with other scientific institutions.

Find out more on the commission's blog site.

Research and publications


Publications cover

Archäologie und Nation: Kontexte der Erforschung „vaterländischen Alterthums“. Zur Geschichte der Archäologie in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, 1800 bis 1860

Ingo Wiwjorra and Dietrich Hakelberg (eds), 2021. Archäologie und Nation: Kontexte der Erforschung „vaterländischen Alterthums“. Zur Geschichte der Archäologie in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz, 1800 bis 1860. Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.

Publication cover

Interdisciplinarity and Archaeology: scientific interactions in nineteenth- and twentieth-century archaeology

Laura Coltofean-Arizancu and Margarita Díaz-Andreu (eds), 2021. Interdisciplinarity and Archaeology: scientific interactions in nineteenth- and twentieth-century archaeology. Oxford, Oxbow.

Publication front cover

New Advances in the History of Archaeology

De Beaune, S. A., Guidi, A., Moro Abadía, O. & Tarantini, M. (eds) 2021. New Advances in the History of Archaeology. Proceedings of the XVIII UISPP World Congress (4–9 June 2018, Paris, France) Volume 16, Sessions VII-1, VII-3 and VII-4. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Cover image History of Archaeology: International Perspectives

History of Archaeology: International Perspectives

Delley, G., Díaz Andreu, M. & Djindjian, F. (eds) 2016. History of Archaeology: International Perspectives. Proceedings of the XVII UISPP World Congress (1–7 September 2014, Burgos, Spain). Volume 11, Sessions A8b, A4a and A8a. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Cover image  Archaeologists without Boundaries / Archéologues sans frontières

Archaeologists without Boundaries / Archéologues sans frontières

Babes, M. & Kaeser, M.-A. (eds) 2009. Archaeologists without Boundaries: Towards a History of International Archaeological Congresses (1866–2006) / Archéologues sans frontières : Pour une histoire des Congrès archéologiques internationaux (1866–2006). Proceedings of the XV UISPP World Congress (Lisbon, 4–9 September 2006) / Actes du XV Congrès mondial (Lisbonne, 4–9 septembre 2006) Volume 46, Session C75. BAR International Series 2046. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.


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Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 (France)
Bettina ARNOLD
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (United States)
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Natalia BULYK
National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Ukraine)
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Maddalena CATALDI
Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (France)
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Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (France)
Universitat de Barcelona (Spain)
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Géraldine DELLEY
Laténium, Parc et musée d'archéologie (Switzerland)
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Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (Spain)
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Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)
Alessandro GUIDI
Università Roma Tre (Italy)
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Marc-Antoine KAESER
Université de Neuchâtel (Switzerland)
Moravské zemské muzeum (Czechia)
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Muzeum Pierwszych Piastów na Lednicy (Poland)
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Ana Cristina MARTINS
Universidad de Sevilla (Spain)
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Federico NOMI
Università Roma Tre (Italy)
Sébastien PLUTNIAK
CNRS, Laboratoire CITERES, Tours (France)
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Université Paris-Nanterre, UMR 8086 (France)
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Fondation Maison des Science de l'Homme (France)
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Uniwersytet Łódzki (Poland)
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Università degli Studi di Siena (Italy)
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Michele TRUFFI
Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria (Italy)
Marzena WOŹNY
Muzeum Archeologiczne w Krakowie (Poland)