Digging for gold: the archaeology of the internet and the “Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies” (EJMS)

Roger Pearse | 12/5/2019 | Staff
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Back in the 1970s, following the international conferences on Mithraic studies, a rising young scholar named Richard L. Gordon created a journal specifically for Mithras studies. He named it the Journal of Mithraic Studies, and got contributors, and supporters, and a publisher. There was definitely a demand for such a journal, as somewhere to report the ever-increasing flow of archaeological discoveries. The print was just typescript, but the scholarship was excellent, and the times were right for it.

But the journal failed. Although the volume of Mithras material is great, I have read that the field proved too small to sustain a journal.

Years - Web - Dr - Gordon - Website

Twenty years later, the world-wide web came along, and Dr Gordon tried again. He created a website, the Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies, and uploaded to it material from the old journal, plus new reports. I don’t know the original website address, but it ended up at http://www.uhu.es/ejms/. But this too failed. Dr Gordon was ahead of his time, and the infrastructure and acceptance for such a venture did not exist. So the site gradually died, and by 2016 it was gone. The university deleted the site, and today it exists only in the Wayback When Machine archive at Archive.org.

This was a bona-fide academic site. But it seems that there was no strategy to preserve it, and it was treated as ephemeral.

Evening - Occasion - Paper - Banjevic - Relief

This evening I had occasion to consult a paper, on the Banjevic relief of Mithras, from volume 2 of the JMS. Looking in the “Out-of-print” section of the archived website, I found the archaeological reports, and downloaded the right section. The sections were all stored as zip files, containing jpgs. Back in 2000, the PDF format did not exist,...
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