Anna Marguerite McCann— 1989 James R. Wiseman Book Award

Award Citation:

The Archaeological Institute of America is proud to honor Anna Marguerite McCann as the first recipient of the James R. Wiseman Book Award for her outstanding recent publication, The Roman Port and Fishery of Cosa: A Center of Ancient Trade.

Anna Marguerite is an internationally renowned scholar, a brilliantly successful popular lecturer and a master teacher whose infectious enthusiasm for learning and insatiable intellectual curiosity have enlightened and enthralled students at Swarthmore College, Barnard College, University of Missouri, University of California at Berkeley, New York University, Trinity College and, currently, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute as its archaeologist for the Jason project, 1989/90.

Her book, which we honor today, represents the culmination of over twenty years of field work and research on Portus Cosanus, an early maritime installation north of Rome. In all ways, it embodies and represents the best of scientific investigation and reporting. It is a landmark work in marine archaeology, a field in which she has pioneered and has helped define during her illustrious career.

Rarely, and far less frequently than we would like, a book appears that is immediately recognized as a "classic" - a work that will have an immediate and permanent impact on our discipline. The Roman Port and Fisheries of Cosa is such a study. It has been universally acclaimed in a series of glowing reviews in journals around the world and has already received a prestigious award; it was judged the outstanding book of 1987 by the American Association of University Presses. G .E. Rickman, writing in our own American Journal of Archaeology (92 [1988], 302) concluded his review by slating: "McCann has set us a splendid example of such interdisciplinary cooperation and, by her use of pioneering archaeological techniques and the sheer breadth of her approach, has given a wholly new animation to port studies." We can only second his praise.

New archaeology demands collaborative research and scholarship. Anna Marguerite gathered a coterie of gifted scholars at Cosa to assist in providing the broadest possible presentation of the archaeological material. Twenty-two contributors appear in her work. Never before has an ancient port received such a creatively detailed and comprehensive study. Such a complex effort might easily have failed if not for her uncommon organizing ability. Her book stands as testimony to this asset. Its many parts became an entity of unparalleled worth.

All of her associates are worthy of comment and praise, but in particular, Joanne Bourgeois, Elaine K. Gazda, John P. Oleson and Elizabeth Lyding Will prepared chapters of extraordinary importance. The results of their joint efforts is far more than a study of the ebb and flow of life in an early port and commercial eslablishment on the western Italian coast. It is a tour de force that is now the model for all future port studies and marine archaeological explorations.

Anna Marguerite has expanded our vision; she has challenged her peers to meet her standards of excellence and imagination; she has demonstrated what an interdisciplinary approach to archaeology can achieve; she has gracefully told the story of this port site and its trading activities, and family, she has skillfully edited a massive work with diverse appeal to all who are interested in ancient maritime affairs and port studies. The James R. Wiseman Book Award acknowledges our gratitude to her and her collaborators for their stellar scholarship, creative insights and cogent writing, and for such a handsome presentation of their research.

It has often been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We end our recognition of Anna Marguerite's exceptional book with our wish that in the future our colleagues will attempt to imitate the scholarly excellence, breadth of vision, integrated research and insightful prose that distinguish The Roman Port and Fishery of Cosa. There is no finer model to follow.

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