Predrag Novakovic

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Predrag Novakovic


Predrag Novakovic, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), graduated in Archaelogy (1989), PhD in Archaeology (2001) at the University of Ljubljana. In 1991 research grant (1 semester) at the University of Durham, UK. Since 1992 employed at the Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Guest professor at the University of Pisa, Italy (1998-2000), University of Graz, Austria (2007-2008), and University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013 – 2015); member of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) since 1994; secretary of the EAA (2005 – 2008). Currently teaching archaeological theory, history of archaeology, landscape archaeology, archaeological field methods; author and co-author of several studies in history of archaeological discipline, development of spatial studies in archaeology, preventive archaeology; also co-author of the standards in field archaeology in Slovenia; director and co-director of several field projects in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.

Opening Conference

Cohabitation, hybridisation and eclecticism of archaeological paradigms: Modern Slovenian archaeology and the legacy of the 1980s

As all national archaeological schools in former Yugoslavia, also the Slovene archaeology underwent a major process of modernization in the period between 1945 and 1965. Prior that period one could speak of rather limited level of archaeological discipline which also extremely varied from one to another region in former Yugoslavia. A radical change occurred with 1945 when the intensive process of infrastructural and conceptual renovation of archaeological discipline in whole Yugoslavia was initiated. Only 20 years later, the situation was almost uncomparable, several dozens of new museums and heritage protection institutes were established across the country, a number of professional archaeologists radically increased, as well as grew the supporting infrastructure (publications, exhibitions, legislative changes…). In conceptual terms, the basis of this renovation was culture history archaeology as reformed, in post-war Germany by Merhart and his students (e.g. Mueller-Karpe, Kossack, Milojčić, Werner, Dehn…). The development of modern prehistoric archaeology in Slovenia is directly linked with the influence of this ‘school’, and by late 1960s Slovenian archaeology achieved a high level of excellence in SE European region which continued in future decades as well. However, with the beginning of the 1980s new ideas influenced by the procesual archaeology in the USA and UK started to circulate. The crucial role played some younger scholars (e.g. Slapšak, Djurić) from the University of Ljubljana which argued for stronger reflexion and critique of the dominant practice and concepts. In 1981 they have established a journal Arheo which started to publish articles and translations focused on critique of the state of archaeology, epistemology and theor. The peak of the endeavours of this group was an invitation to Lewis Binford who became a guest professor at the University of Ljubljana in 1985. Though the impact of his teaching was not immediate nor there were any radical paradigmatic shifts in the Slovene archaeology, the whole »program« of another modernization proved very resilient. In the 1980s, besides a number of articles in Arheo, also translations of several key texts were published: Lev Klejn’s Archaeological sources (1987) and Archaeological typology (1988), Jean-Claude Gardin’s Archeologie theoretique (1988), and there was also a plan to translate Davide Clarke’s Analytical Archaeology, but this did not happen. In addition to this, another group of younger scholars in Slovenia, mostly sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists and linguists, also quite unhappy with the state of discourse in social sciences and humanities in Slovenia, launched in the 1980s a monograph series where translations of mostly French theorists of history, art history and antiquity were published in the first years (J. P. Vernant, G. Dumezil, J. Le Goff, P. Vidal-Nacquet…, but also M. Finley, P. Anderson, A. Momigliano, R. Bianchi Bandinelli) bringing additional perspectives in historical sciences. The ‘opening’ of the archaeology in Slovenia (to a certain degree also in some other places in Yugoslavia, e.g. Belgrade) to ideas of processual archaeology gave boost to younger generation of archaeologists to participate in a different kind of archaeology as they have experienced at home; they started to participate at TAG conferences in England, to work in international teams, to follow guest teachers from the UK and USA, and gradually many new topis became included in the archaeological curriculum (archaeological theory included) in the early 1990s. However, here one important aspect should be pointed out. The changes brought by ‘new archaeological thinking’ were not highly successful in Slovene archaeology because of their theoretical or conceptual strength, but because of their success in practice, as methods and techniques which demonstrated very successful in a series of important projects in Slovenia. Here, in the first place should be mentioned spatial archaeology which stands out for at least two major successes which left considerable consequences on further development of archaeology in Slovenia and wider: the application of GIS (one of the pioneering GIS projects in archaeology in general, was done by combined Slovene-British team in 1992) and project of preventive research on motorways, where methods, based on experiences from the Slovene-British landscape reconnaissance in Dalmatia, were developed in the early 1990s, and, in the future two decades, led to a multi-million national program of preventive archaeology. The two ‘successes’ are just the most illustrative for the legacy of the 1980s, the list of projects with new techniques and methods coming from the domain and practice of processual (and later also postprocessual) archaeology is much more extensive. However, what is important to note here is that ‘new’ archaeologies in Slovenia did not replace the traditional culture-history approach. A rather peculiar situation emerged, that of co-habitation or hybridisation of traditional archaeology with concepts, ideas and methods originating in the processual and postprocessual archaeology. Already a brief survey of publications in the last 30 years demonstrates this interesting and eclectic mixture. The paper discusses the reasons for such an eclectic nature of the Slovene archaeology since the 1980s, and potentials of eclectic approach in the development of modern archaeology in SE Europe.

Selected publications:

  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag, Historija arheologije u novim zemljama jugoistočne Evrope. Sarajevo 2014.
  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. Binford in the Balkans : introduction of theoretical archaeology in Slovenia and countries of former Yugoslavia. V: Kristiansen K., Šmejda L. and Turek J. (eds.), Paradigm found : archaeological theory present, past and future : essays in honour of Evžen Neustupný. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2015, p. 124-136
  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. The “German School” and its influence on the national archaeologies of the Western Balkans. In: Migotti B. (ed.), Scripta in honorem Bojan Djurić. Ljubljana: Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije, 2012, p. 51-71. Monografije CPA.
  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. Archaeology in the new countries of southeastern Europe : a historical perspective. In: Lozny L. (ed.), Comparative archaeologies : a sociological view of the science of the past. New York [etc.]: Springer, 2011, p. 339-461.
  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. Use of past, ancestors and historical myths in the Yugoslav wars in 1990s. In: Magnani S. and Marcaccini C. (eds.), Le identità difficili : archeologia potere propaganda nei Balcani. Firenze: Volo, cop. 2007, p. 47-64. Portolano Adriatico, anno 3, n. 3.
  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. Archaeology in five states – A peculiarity or just another story at the crossroads of “Mitteleuropa” and the Balkans: A case study of Slovene archaeology. In: Biehl P, Gramsch A., and Marciniak A. (eds.), Archäologien Europas = Archaeologies of Europe : Geschichte, Methoden und Theorien / History, Methods and Theories. Münster / New York / München / Berlin: Waxmann, 2002, p. 323-352. Tübinger Archäologische Taschenbücher, Bd. 3.
  • SLAPŠAK, Božidar, NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. Is there national archaeology without nationalism? Archaeological tradition in Slovenia. In: Díaz-Andreu García M. and Champion T. C. (eds.), Nationalism and archaeology in Europe. London: UCL Press, 1996. p. 256-293.
  • NOVAKOVIĆ, Predrag. Eastern Europe. In: Silberman N.A. (ed.), The Oxford companion to archaeology. 2. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Vol. 1: ache-hoho, str. 445-451.