An edited book in honor of a living scholar is a common type of publication. There is even a fancy German word for it, a Festschrift. This book is a memorial volume, which also has its own special term, a Gedenkschrift. The chapters in this book were compiled in remembrance of Bernard Wailes, a beloved colleague in the Anthropology Department at the University of Pennsylvania who specialized in European archaeology. The majority of authors in the book were students of Bernard at one point or another. Although I never had the privilege of having a class with Bernard, he was still very much around the department and had the office that adjoined my graduate advisor’s, allowing me to get to know him and appreciate what a genuinely nice human being he was. Because of the purpose of this book and the people involved, it was an honor to have a hand in bringing it to publication.
The 10 chapters in this volume are wide-ranging, discussing topics such as genes and language, coins, agriculture, zooarchaeology, human osteology, state formation, and social complexity. Although the focus is largely on European archaeological case studies, the essential point of the book is that European archaeology need not be partitioned from broader anthropological discourse and that it has significant bearing on studying the rise of complex societies outside of Europe as well. Bernard himself was a meticulous reader and editor, which is reflected in the quality of the writing here.
This book follows our conference volume style, which is a 6 x 9″ trim size with color dustjacket. The site Bernard is primarily associated with is Dún Ailinne in Ireland. When it came to choosing a photo for the dustjacket, the editors felt that this site would make an appropriate image. The first submission featured a jaunty group of cows standing in front of the site mound, however, it wasn’t of suitable resolution for the cover. In the end, the book ended up with a beautiful aerial shot of the mound. If you look closely, you might even see some animals grazing in the fields.
As a biological anthropologist, Rachel Scott’s chapter on health in early medieval Ireland (ca. 400–1200 CE) was one of my favorite parts of this book. It is a well-written and compelling comparative survey of health across several archaeological populations. Working with and getting to know Pam Crabtree and Peter Bogucki was another wonderful aspect of this volume. Both are insightful, interesting scholars and truly lovely people. Start to finish, this book was a pleasure to work on and I hope people will check it out!
Anatomy of a Book
Page Selinsky, Ph.D. is a biological anthropologist by training, but her primary job these days is Editor for Museum Publications. In this capacity, she has the privilege of working on the editing and design of books published by the Penn Museum. Her blog posts endeavor to pique your interest about our new titles.
Museum Publications of interest
- Photograph of Bernard Wailes by Janet Monge
- Dún Ailinne with cows by Pam J. Crabtree
- Aerial view of Dún Ailinne by Frank Coyne, Aegis Archaeology