By Juan Antonio Quirós Castillo
Reflections: 50 Years of Medieval Archaeology, 1957-2007. Society for Medieval Archaeology Monograph 30, edited R. Gilchrist and A.Reynolds (London, 2009)
Introduction: As in other parts of southern Europe, the archaeology of medieval societies in Spain is a discipline of very recent creation, despite the fact that its antecedents can be traced back to the 19th century. In spite of this, the discipline has undergone a spectacular development in the last few decades. As the field currently stands, there have never before been so many active archaeological projects or such systematic investigations of medieval sites. There are now an impressive number of published monographs and related studies. As discussed later in this paper, however, this explosion in professional interest and output contrasts with a negligible presence in academic institutions. This has led to the existence of several ‘medieval archaeologies’; an absence of methodological and epistemological reflection can be observed, and the results obtained by archaeology have been marginalized in historical syntheses devoted to the medieval period.
This paper is not a summary of the recent academic results of medieval archaeology in Spain. A book on this topic has recently been published. The aim here is to provide a critical review of the state of the discipline from diCerent points of view, as well as an overview of the diCerent subjects dealt with in recent years. First, a brief analysis of the history of medieval archaeology in Spain is provided, followed by a consideration of the current situation. In conclusion, the paper will outline the challenges which will ideally be addressed in coming years.