Skip to main content

Archaeological Draughtsmanship: Principles and Practice Part I: Principles and Retrospect

  • Stuart Piggott

All technical and scientific illustration is at once symbol and communication, a pictorial language addressing the author's audience side by side with his written text. It transmits information according to an agreed code of conventions which translates actuality into forms and outlines in one or more colours, usually black on white, in a manner which will convey to the observer the features of the original which the illustrator wishes to present. As Winston Churchill wrote of painting, ‘the canvas receives a message despatched a few seconds before from the natural object. But it has also come through a post office en route. It has been transmitted in code . . . it reaches the canvas a cryptogram’. Archaeological draughtsmanship involves the construction of technical cryptograms, and as in all ciphers these must be made according to rules carefully observed by both transmitter and recipient.

Hide All


[1] Painting as a Pastime (1948), 28, quoted by Gombrich, E. H., Art and Illusion (1960), 38.

[2] Archaeology from the Earth (1954), 59.

[3] Fairservis, W. A., Excavations in the Quetta Valley, West Pakistan (1956), 202–03.

[4] Gombrich, E. H., Art and Illusion (1960), 90.

[5] For Lhwyd, Lister and the Ashmolean circle, Gunther, R. T., Early Science in Oxford, XIV, 1945 .

[6] Evans, Joan, History of the Society of Antiquaries (1956), 57; Seznec, J., Essais sur Diderot et I’Antiquité (1957), 128.

[7] J. Seznec, op. cit., ch. v; Daniel, G. E., Prehistoric Chamber Tombs of France (1960), 16.

[8] Witsen, N. C. (1641–1717), Noord- en Oost-Tartarye (1785); reproduced in Rudenko, S. I., Sibirskaya Kollektsiya Petra I (1962), pls. 1–3.

[9] For Hoare, and Crocker, , Meyrick, O., Wilts. Arch. Mag., LII, 1948, 213 ; Roy, G. Macdonald, Arch., LXVIII, 1917, 161 .

[10] Carter, H., Orlando Jewitt (1962).

[11] Joan Evans, op. cit., 351.

[12] SirWoolley, Leonard, Spadework (1953), 14; quoted with comment by SirWheeler, Mortimer, Still Digging (1955), 67.

[13] Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological Society, XIII, 1895, 453 , and pls. II–IV.

[14] Still Digging (1955). 72.

We invited Professor Stuart Piggott and Dr Brian Hope-Taylor to write a series of articles on the principles and practice of archaeological draughtsmanship, and we publish here the first of the series, in which Professor Piggott discusses the role of illustration in archaeological publication and the development of British archaeological draughtsmanship from its beginnings through General Pitt-Rivers to Sir Mortimer Wheeler's Segontium section of 1922. Further articles in this series will appear from time to time in the next two years.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *

Related content

Powered by UNSILO


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed