In the second of our blogs for International Open Access Week 2022, Roger Matthews reflects on the publication of The Archaeology of Iran from the Palaeolithic to the Achaemenid Empire, co-authored with Hassan Fazeli Nashli.
The Archaeology of Iran from the Palaeolithic to the Achaemenid Empire (Routledge, 2022) is the first detailed, state-of-the-art academic book on the archaeology of all of Iran. Previous works, at book level, have either been shorter syntheses or more in-depth but focusing on a specific region, period, or issue within the archaeology of Iran. Throughout the book we address major issues of contemporary concern, such as human engagement with climate change, changing social and cultural structures, the early development of literacy, and of complex societies, through close study of the rich evidence from ancient Iran. Overall, we aim to show how the study of the past of Iran is highly relevant to understanding many aspects of the way we live today. We aim for the book to stand as a major research resource for decades into the future – the bibliography alone, with its more than 3000 entries, is a highly valuable resource.
Also, we wanted to have lots of colour illustrations – so important for an archaeology book – so we were able to raise funding to cover the costs of including a total of 555 images in the book, including innovative interpretive maps and many colour pictures of sites and objects. A huge number of colleagues, mainly from Iran, helped us by providing images and the permissions to include them. We were also greatly assisted by Dr Amy Richardson as Illustrations Editor who produced almost all the maps and ensured all the figures were of the highest standard.
From the start, we knew that the book had to be fully Open Access. Both of us have a good track record of publishing in Open Access journals and of producing books as Open Access. This aspect is especially important for scholars and students in Iran, who face a range of serious challenges in obtaining books and other publications if they are not Open Access. We were determined therefore to raise all the funding necessary to ensure global access to the book immediately upon publication. We both plan to continue to publish Open Access for the remainder of our careers.
The University of Reading was extremely supportive in this regard. They provided a very generous grant, which we augmented from other sources, to enable Routledge to produce the volume as an Open Access PDF even before the hard copies were available. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from a wide range of people and organisations. It is gratifying to note that the book is currently among the top ten downloaded Open Access books across the Taylor and Francis arts and humanities spectrum.
Roger Matthews is a Professor of Archaeology at the University of Reading.