All history is biased. The best way to present an unbiased history is for the author to confess at the outset where he comes from, what ideas and influences he has enjoyed, and where therefore any bias may lie.
My name is Andrew Selkirk, and I am Editor-in-Chief of Current Archaeology and Current World Archaeology, Britain’s two leading archaeological magazines. However, now I have retired – or semi-retired – it is time to branch out, and having spent my career writing about archaeology in bits and pieces, it is time to pull it all together and to present my ideas of how we should interpret what happened in history.
I have always been an archaeologist. I began digging at school and then having done my National service in the Intelligence Corps, learning Russian, I went up to Oxford, where I read Greats (Latin and Greek) and became president of the Oxford University Archaeological Society. For 30 years, digging was my passion till eventually I realised I was better at writing about history than actually digging it up.
After Oxford I became a Chartered Accountant, believing that in order to study the past, one should first study the present; however , fate beckoned, and while serving my articles with Smith and Williamson, I also became editor of Contra, the magazine of the Chartered Accountants Student Society of London. Finding that I was better at writing magazines than in doing accounts, I decided to launch a new magazine devoted to archaeology, having acquired a wonderful helpmate, my wife, Wendy.
But as editor of Current Archaeology, I have found myself straddling two worlds. For half of my life, I have been living in the academic world, writing about excavations and learning to make that leap from holes in the ground to history, and following the theories and controversies of the academic archaeological world.
But the same time, I have also been a businessman, the publisher of Current Archaeology, dealing with printers, advertisers, and mastering the mysteries of postcodes and direct debits. And though I have given up accountancy completely, I have nevertheless kept an interest in accountancy and the world of finance and money.
These pages form an attempt to marry together the two very different worlds, the academic world, which is still far too much influenced by Marx and has too little practical experience of how the outside world works, and that outside world which is all too often ignorant of what is going on in the world of academia. I am in a position to link the two, and these pages are the result of my endeavours.
This new economic approach leads to a new assessment of the Greeks and Romans, emphasising that the invention of money was behind their remarkable achievements in so many aspects of life, introducing what I believe are the essential characteristics of civilisation. At the same time, I have told the story in a straightforward account summarising the achievements of the three great Palace-based empires and then the very different society introduced by the new economic basis that underlay the Greeks and the Romans.
This is what you see before you in these pages. It is now in its second draft as I am pulling together my original ideas, filling in the gaps and making it more coherent. I hope that one day it will appear in more substantial form.
On to the Trobriand Islands
Or, if you still want to hear more about me,