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Mark E. Tkachuk. Stratum plus 2017-2018 Editorial Plans

Editor-in-Chief’s Call to the Authors and Readers

Mark E. TkachukIt has been seventeen years since the first volume of Stratum plus came out. It comes out six times a year now, and will keep the same tempo, the same size.

First and foremost, I would like to extend my highest appreciation to our international Editorial Board and to the permanent editors of each thematic volume, and more importantly, to the colossal team of researchers from dozens of countries and various academic institutions for their contributions. Owing to your efforts, this edition has acquired expertise and authority, has maintained its reputation as a journal of ‘ideas and hot discussions’ and has proved relevance of these ideas among the international academic society. It is important that Stratum plus and the majority of its contributing authors preserved their disregard to the modern opportunistic and, sometimes, very dramatic, political processes on the post-Soviet space; they abstained from participation in phantom discussions around primogeniture and selectness of some cultures and ethnicities: such discussion has nothing to do with truly scientific issues. Our edition, created by our common efforts, keeps proving that science  archaeology in this case  does not know any state or geographic frontiers, and its unity comes from the principles of devout search for truth, strict research procedures and panoramic approach to all existing scientific positions and opinions.

In the course of the last three years, Stratum plus has been testing a new form of planning and selection of articles for each volume. Along with its known chronological division from volume one to volume six, from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, the Editorial Board has now developed a more specific approach to each volume. We will offer, well in advance, a relevant topic which will be the feature of a particular volume within a certain chronological period, and this will determine selection of the contributions. This approach proved to be good, for the journal now receives specially prepared submissions, but what is even more important  it can serve its mission now more efficiently: it guides team research more systematically and focuses attention on the “darkest” corners of our science.

In 2016, we have reached a new horizon together. For now all six volumes of the journal will be dedicated to one cross-cutting issue  the same very issue, which the patriarchs of archaeology call “the accursed question” of our science, i.e. culture change, chronological and cultural gaps, interpretation of historical catastrophes based on archaeological records. Hopefully, this formulation will help shorten the distance between the researchers, who professionally study periods so distant from each other that they cannot always notice typologically similar and repeating problematic situations in different temporal and cultural contexts. Knowing the portfolio of each volume to be edited in 2016, I am sure that after they come out, many archaeologists will be tempted to return to their habit of thematic pantophagy they indulged themselves with as young students.

This successful experience encouraged us to suggest cross-cutting features for the future volumes of Stratum plus in 2017-2018. The editors who gathered in a meeting in Kishinev in October 2015 noticed that archaeological interpretations of the last two decades have completely ignored two absolutely important topics, or rather, metatopics, i.e.: production, exchange and transfer of technologies, on the one hand, and development of social structures and power institutions, on the other. Surely, we mean here interpretation of these phenomena based on archeological records, first of all, and of course, in interaction with other disciplines.

A focused and special recurrence to these issues seems to be quite justified. The artificial obsession with social and economic topics, which was typical for the Soviet archaeology, no doubt, discouraged the researchers, especially in former USSR countries, to study these quite dull and hardly comprehensible domains, which, however, did not cease to exist. Moreover, they are still subjects of the widest theoretical and methodological research in the world archaeology and cultural anthropology. Moreover, these topics have now acquired the highest importance, when we see more and more brilliant, witty and reverberating historical-sociological and pelaeoeconomic generalizing works, whose authors frequently recur to rather liberal interpretations of archaeological facts, for objective reasons. And a pungent shoppy snobbery is not an answer to this situation. It would be better for us to present our own reconstructions in these fields, based on the exploration of the rich potential that can be offered by records  something that is also available to the post-Soviet archaeology.

Thus, the feature of all six volumes to be edited in 2017 is the following: “Production, Exchange and Transfer of Technologies by Archaeological Records”. A special focus will be placed on the dynamics and change of industry and exchange centers, a race of technologies from region to region, from culture to culture, from one period to another, explanations of phenomena related to the technological continuity, in the context of obvious cultural and chronological disruptions, and the nature of exchange phenomena in different historical contexts. We welcome the diversity of methods and ideas about critical overviews of these matters over the last decades.

We suggest the following cross-cutting feature for all six volumes of Stratum plus in 2018: “Social Structures and Power Institutes by Archaeological Records”. Surely, in this case we can anticipate presentation of papers focusing on analysis of funerary complexes and special structures of settlement patterns. A generalized presentation of such works within certain periods will be a step forward, no doubt. Acknowledging that, however, we would like to drive the authors’ attention towards such topics as behavior of social structures during crisis, their reversibility, simplification, and whether it can be proved by archaeological records. As to the Iron Age, Antiquity and the Great Migrations, this sociological problem must be definitely manifested as a correlation of the social and the ethnic, when various ethnic (or foreign ethnic) groups and categories of society would acquire a dominant or a subordinate position within a social structure. Priority will be given to those contributions, which present the newest interdisciplinary view on this specific aspect of development.

Dear colleagues, I hope that our editorial proposal has been a positive challenge to you. We will be glad to hear from you any suggestions or questions on the suggested topics. The volume editors are looking forward to receive your submissions. I have no doubt that the demanding readers of Stratum plus will be once again pleasantly surprised and will have active feedback on your ideas and discoveries.

Please send us your suggestions, remarks or questions to our email address stratumplus@gmail.com or you are welcome to discuss them here https://www.facebook.com/stratumplus

Mark E. Tkachuk, doctor of history

First Rector, 
High Anthropological School University
international journal Stratum plus