Editorial n. 1 (2008)

And away we go!
The "Quaderni del ramo d'oro", long published in conjunction with the activity of the Center for Anthropology of the Ancient World (Centro AMA: Antropologia del Mondo Antico), University of Siena, Italy, is here reborn on-line. Of course, this is the rebirth of a phoenix – so to speak – that was never truly old and worn out, only one now more befitting our modern lives. In its new electronic format, it is faster, more functional and more accessible to everyone (as well as cheaper).
   In its new incarnation, the journal is oriented above all toward a younger generation of scholars – those presently participating in the Center's own doctoral program*, its past members and those who will join the program in the future. Some of their contributions appear in this edition and will continue to appear (hopefully in some number) in subsequent editions. In fact, the contribution of young scholars to the publication of the "Quaderni" occurs at many levels, given that they participate also as members of the editorial staff, the responsibility and work for the journal's on-line publication falling in great part precisely to them. In a sense, then, the Center and the Program's journal is reborn a 'young' phoenix.
   Besides contributions by young scholars, newly minted PhDs and research fellows from the Center itself, this edition also presents the work of scholars – from Italy and elsewhere – particularly close to it. This is the direction we intend to follow in future editions as well, though the journal is open to contributions from anyone, in different languages, provided these contributions meet the general requirements for publication established by the editorial committee: true commitment to studying the ancient world from an anthropological perspective, originality and high quality of scholarship (as evaluated by a group of international referees). We believe these editorial objectives will encourage not only the continuing contribution of young scholars, but also their readership. Then, if we could also claim as part of the journal's audience anyone engaged in teaching the classical world (or indeed any other discipline), and wishing to keep his or her teaching lively and new, this would be a truly excellent outcome.
   The first volume of the on-line journal includes a number of articles developed out of talks given at the international conference, "Straniero da dove? Venti anni di Antropologia del Mondo Antico a Siena" (November 14-15, 2006). This acts as a perfect bridge between old and new – an ideal 'nest' for the phoenix. The volume opens and closes with two purposely nonconventional articles, colloquial in style, that reflect the spirit of innovation that has always marked the Center. The themes articulated in the rest of the articles also reflect those interests most dear to the Center's members and around which various conferences and research projects have been organized over the years: identity and 'otherness' – a theme we began to discuss critically almost twenty years ago, when it seemed to interest no one; magic and monsters; kinship; animals; myth and medicine. No doubt in the course of future editions we will see the spectrum of themes and perspectives enlarged and enriched. I am sure of this, in fact – since for the most part their outline is already clear.
   I finish by thanking all the young members of our small community: their passion and enthusiasm have helped us overcome the general sense of discouragement that has arisen from seeing the world of the university and of research so greatly affected – almost like a disease – by a growing syndrome of stagnation and sometimes even regression. Even greater thanks are owed, however, to Francesca Marzari, whose seriousness, intelligence and dedication have made possible what at first did not seem to be so: creating an on-line journal endowed with all the legal, editorial and scholarly characteristics of a printed one and offering its contributors an opportunity and a place to publish their academic research in the knowledge that this publication would be in every way equivalent to a traditional periodical. Francesca has done it!
                                                                                     Maurizio Bettini

* Doctoral Program in "Anthropology, History and Culture Theory" (Italian Institute of the Humanities [SUM] and the University of Siena).