Aarhus University Seal

Challenge completed! A new record for number of authors on an UrbNet paper

The end is in sight for a collaborative project involving fourteen UrbNet staff members, past and present.

The genesis of the "Journal Club Article" – brainstorming on the white board in the planning stages.


By Assistant professor Christopher Dickenson

“UrbNet’s Journal Club” meetings are always stimulating. The meetings are occasions for us to discuss articles to do with “urbanism” in archaeology. Our different backgrounds – in Classical, Medieval and African archaeology – mean that we often find ourselves in heated debates about big questions about what exactly “urbanism” is and how we should approach the subject. What’s classed as “urban” for the Roman world is very different to “urban” in Viking Scandinavia. In line with UrbNet’s mission statement, the thing that we always come back to is the factor that all our different “urbanisms” have in common: “connections”, the ways in which settlements were parts of networks.

In late 2018 we decided it would be useful to write an article making the case for the common ground we had found through our discussions. The only problem was how to write an article with fourteen different authors!

Meetings were held to decide on the central argument and structure. A steering committee, consisting of Tom Birch, Luise Ørsted Brandt, Mahir Hrnji? and myself was created to co-ordinate the project. Authors were divided into groups, each tasked with drafting one of the article’s four main sessions. The subgroups met, wrote, revised, met again. The steering committee read the sections, commented on them and sent them out for more revisions. Eventually I was appointed as “head writer” in order to achieve a coherent, unified style throughout. As all of us worked on the article alongside other projects, and several of us left our positions at UrbNet during the process, the article stalled several times. But we stayed in touch and persevered. I’m glad we did because I am excited to announce we now have a complete article, ready to be submitted for publication to a leading journal.