A new dawn

Life after Ancient World Magazine

It took years and the sad demise of Ancient World Magazine, but my personal website has finally been relaunched. Here’s what you can expect from the site and from me in the months and years to come.

Josho Brouwers

On 1 March, I posted the last editorial on the Ancient World Magazine website, announcing that the website was going to be taken offline. Fast forward a few months and here we are: Ancient World Magazine is no more. Fortunately, though, I was able to use the intervening months to rebuild my personal website and move most of the old Ancient World Magazine content over.

I say “most”, because not all articles were archived here. A small number of contributors preferred to have their material published elsewhere or use the articles that they wrote as the basis of something new. Fair enough, of course. I am happy, however, that most of the content has survived and will continue to be available to a large audience for the foreseeable future. It’s unlikely, after all, that I’ll get rid of my personal website so long as I am still around!

All content from Ancient World Magazine has been given its own tag for easy reference. This includes the podcast. You might notice that there is a podcasts menu item in the navigation, which will lead you not only to the archived versions of the Ancient World Magazine podcast, but also to the handful of episodes we did for our speculative fiction podcast, Pod Bay One. All of the audio is hosted on my SoundCloud account. Again, all this stuff is unlikely to disappear for the next few decades at least (touch wood!).

About the website

This new website consists of a number of different components. Like the old Ancient World Magazine website, it’s built using ProcessWire, a content management framework that I have used for many years now to build websites, both for myself and for third parties. ProcessWire makes zero assumptions regarding the content on your website, allowing you to create templates that have any fields attached to them as you see fit. It’s a powerful system and much more flexible than e.g. WordPress. It does require you to be able to code in PHP, however.

Regarding the frontend, I had no desire to build my own cascading stylesheets again from scratch. Instead, I used Bootstrap, which predefines CSS and comes bundled with the necessary JavaScript to create, for example, carousels and dropdown menus. I customized it a bit using my own custom SASS, but I am fairly happy with most of the default settings. Perhaps I’ll revisit the colour scheme in future, but for now this serves my purposes just fine: it’s clear, mobile-first, and runs fast. It’s also made developing this website a lot easier than if I had gone the route of writing all my own style rules.

For Ancient World Magazine, I tried to publish something new every week. This led to me getting burned out on the project and so that’s not a mistake I will make again. I won’t make any promises with regards to how often the website gets updated. Sometimes, I might write a few things in a single week; at other times, weeks may pass without the website getting anything in the sense of “fresh content”. Suffice to say: the website will be updated whenever I have the time and energy to do so.

This website will also serve as a repository of my own research. I am currently converting the databases that I have used for both my PhD and my postdoctoral work to the website, so that they can be available to anyone who might be interested in pre-Classical Aegean war and violence. As part of this process, I am also building an extensive bibliography, mostly for my own use, but hopefully it will be useful for others, too. No idea when all of this will be done, but I am hoping all this will be made available before the end of the current year.

Other than that, I have been contracted to write two books on warfare in the Bronze Age Aegean and in Early Iron Age Greece, respectively. As a result, I imagine I’ll be writing about these topics whenever I come across something that might be interesting for the website, be it a blog post (informal), an article (slightly more formal), or a review of something. These books, along with a small research project that I am working on with my wife, will consume much of my time through to the winter.

Closing thoughts

I must admit that it feels a little out of place to launch a new website, of all things, when the world is in dire straits. The rights and freedoms of people everywhere are under siege, most recently with the demise of women’s federal right to an abortion in the United States. It is the latest violation of basic human rights, but goodness knows it won’t be the last.

Authoritarianism – indeed outright fascism – continues to be on the rise seemingly everywhere. Hungary and Poland continue their rightward lurch as members of the European Union. In the UK, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will most likely be extradicted to the United States – a country which has tried to assassinate him – for the simple reason of doing his fucking job. Brexit has been a colossal clusterfuck that seems destined only to further divide and impoverish the people who make up the United Kingdom.

And then there is the issue that the only inhabitable world available to us – sorry, Emerald Prince – is literally on fire and only getting hotter. The war in Ukraine – essentially World War III in all but name – will likely not be resolved for a long time. There is too much at stake for the wealthy to let the war be resolved peacefully. They are making a killing at the moment. And because Russia is closing down its gas pipelines, there are plans to reopen coal plants. Coal plants! In 2022!

We’ve known about the dangers of fossil fuels since at least the 1950s. And yet, oil and gas continue to be used rather than renewal energy sources. The reason? Money, of course. There’s plenty to be made from buring fossil fuels and the rich will be damned if they don’t milk it for all its worth. Capitalism destroys everything it touches. The oligarchy prefers to destroy this planet if it means they can make even more money than they already have. As Caitlin Johnson writes, “All of our world’s worst problems are created by the powerful.”

In short, there is plenty to get angry about. And I suppose writing about this stuff is one way to resist, to continue making clear that I, too, disagree with the current state of affairs in the world. I will do so whenever I think I have something worthwhile to say. In other cases, I will simply retweet comments from people that are smarter than me. When things get too tense, I’ll scream in a hole in the ground and hope that it makes a difference somehow. We must continue to fight for a better world, to resist whoever tries to oppress us. You might not care about some of the things that are going on right now, but there’s no room for neutrality: if you only fight for some of our rights and freedoms, they’ll take all of them. There is no middle way.

Similarly, there is no way to write about the past without it becoming political. If you think there is, you’re deluding yourself. Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley, whose writings have left an indelible mark on me, wrote that “Archaeology is a social practice in the present.” That is true, because everything is political. It’s the reason why, for example, I took a popular book about the end of the Bronze Age to task for furthering the notion – preferred by the rich and powerful – that hierarchies are good and anarchy – the lack of a formal government and its tools of oppression! – is to be abhorred. Never take anything at face value.

In any event – deep breath – I hope that you’ll enjoy what I do here, and what I will be trying to do. The realities of the neoliberal capitalist hellscape that we inhabit means that jobs are few and far between for archaeologists. And the fact that we do live in a capitalist world, means that some money can go a long way. So if you like what I do, perhaps consider tossing a few coins my way. Thank you.