Harris book translated into Mandarin
A Bermudian archaeologist who set a standard in the field has had a seminal book translated for a Chinese audience.
Principles of Archaeology Stratigraphy, written by Edward Harris, on the theory of how ancient artefacts are buried and layered, was translated into Mandarin in mid-January.
The book, which also outlines his stratigraphical Harris Matrix, will now be available to Chinese archaeology students.
Dr Harris said: “It’s very gratifying that, unlike many scientific inventions which don’t survive for very long because they’re replaced by something else, my matrix has now endured for almost 50 years and is basically the industry standard when you’re doing archaeological excavations.”
The book has been translated into 11 other languages since its publication in 1979.
It also introduced the Harris Matrix, which allows the stratigraphic sequences of dig sites to be viewed in a diagram and is used worldwide.
Dr Harris said that he was approached by Ningli Li, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Sun Yat-sen University in the city of Guangzhou, for permission to translate the book.
He added the “arduous task” took about five years, partly because Dr Li worked on the translation alongside her other duties as a professor.
Dr Harris said that China had probably used “a number of systems” to keep track of dig sites before his system was introduced.
He added: “China is a country with major archaeological resources, so I think it would be a good thing that some of the methods are perhaps modernised.
“That’s not to say a lot of people weren’t already using it – we just don’t know – it’s just that it’s now available in Chinese.
“I think it’s going to have a very important effect to have it available in your own language.”
Principles has been translated into several major foreign languages, including French and Arabic.
About 2,500 copies of the Mandarin translation have been printed.
It is also available online for free download.
Dr Harris was the first director of the Bermuda Maritime Museum, now the National Museum of Bermuda, until his retirement in 2017 after 37 years in the job.
He was awarded an MBE in 2000 to mark his services to Bermuda’s cultural heritage.