How does one search for specific archaeological sites?
Archaeological sites are established individually as subject headings. The name of the site is the subject heading, so one should search the name of the site directly as a Library of Congress subject heading. Some examples are:
- Spiro Site (Okla.)
- Fengate Site (England)
- Alberite Site (Spain)
The name of the site is the name by which it is best known, according to the literature. In many cases this means that the site is established as it appears on the book that was catalogued, since many sites are not listed in additional reference books. Any form of the name not chosen as the official name of the site, is listed as a cross-reference in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH).
Sites are not always listed as “name” Site (place). Sometimes they are treated as caves, tels, etc. Some examples are:
- Amalda Cave (Spain)
- Lascaux Cave (France)
- Akhziv, Tel (Israel)
It is therefore wise to truncate your search if you do not know if your site is a cave, tel, ruin, mound, etc.
Library of Congress also established some archaeological sites as “Extinct cities.” Library of Congress establishes as an “extinct city” any city, town, village, etc., that ceased to exist by the year 1500. The exception is cities of the Americas. Cities of the Americas that ceased to exist by 1500 are established as archaeological sites rather than as extinct cities. Some examples of extinct cities are:
- Pompeii (Extinct city)
- Ebla (Extinct city)
What do you do if you do not know the name of the site you are looking for? There is a “broader term” cross-reference on all subject headings for sites in the country where the site is located. So you could search “Italy–Antiquities” and get a list of all sites in Italy that are established in LCSH. The helpful part is that this cross-reference is added regardless of whether the site was ultimately established as a cave, tel, tall, rockshelter, etc.
- For example, under “Spain–Antiquities” one finds: Amalda Cave (Spain); Baelo (Extinct city); Bofilla Site (Spain), etc.
- There are three exceptional countries however: Canada, Great Britain and the United States. For these three countries the term to search is the province, constituent country, or state respectively.
- For example, if you know the site is in Massachusetts but you don’t know the name, you can search “Massachusetts–Antiquities” and get a list of all archaeological sites in Massachusetts that are established in LCSH. Likewise you can search “England–Antiquities” and get a list of all archaeological sites in England, or “Ontario–Antiquities” to get a list of all archaeological sites in Ontario.
The point is that you do not search “Canada–Antiquities,” “Great Britain–Antiquities” or “United States–Antiquities” in these cases.