The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) represents archaeologists and heritage professionals from across Europe. The Annual Meeting has become established as the premier archaeological conference in Europe and the 21st Annual Meeting will be hosted at the University of Glasgow in September 2015.
It will be the first, biggest and best cultural heritage event of its kind ever to take place in Scotland and we have commemorated this by designing a special tartan entitled ‘Ancient Gathering’. The EAA Glasgow 2015 will be a marketplace for ideas and is an excellent opportunity to share Scotland’s rich, diverse and unique cultural heritage with an international audience. Scotland is also the perfect stage for the EAA’s Coming-of-Age celebrations!
Seven key themes define the framework for the EAA Glasgow 2015 to ensure delegates with a broad range of interests can participate in the meeting.
ARCHAEOLOGY & MOBILITY
Europe in the 21st century faces several major challenges – economic, social and environmental – and one key to understanding and addressing those challenges involves issues related to mobility.
The theme of archaeology and mobility here stands not only for the physical & geographical movement of people but also the movement of people socially, economically and culturally. It includes too the mobility of knowledge and ideas, through innovation or necessity, and whether for altruistic, selfish or sinister reasons.
Sub themes encompass mobility and its impact on communication and the transmission of knowledge; mobility and its impact on social cohesion, integration and identity; the role of mobility in conflict; mobility as a driver for economic growth; and many more besides – the list is long.
In archaeology, we study people through their multifarious material manifestations, many of which engender or reflect the changes these movements have effected, aspirations as well as outcomes, failures as well as successes.
The challenge to us, as archaeologists, is to demonstrate how we may put our knowledge of the past to beneficial use in helping shape the future, including by highlighting and communicating knowledge and understanding of how to deal more successfully with the opportunities and challenges ever-increasing mobility presents to European societies today.
From the individual to the nation state identity is a critical concept for all of European archaeology. Definitions of identity stress shared distinctive features that serve to differentiate at the collective level of the group and articulate as nested sets of being and belonging. Identity also embraces unique and individualising traits that take contingent precedence in relation to personhood and change across the individual life course. Exploring both are essential for our examination of the everyday experiences of people in the past.
Identities are frequently contested and controversial. A significant area is the place of identity in heritage policy and the contemporary identification of cultural value and ownership.There are also wider disciplinary and professional identities to consider with implications for archaeological practice.
As a conference theme Reconfiguring Identities invites contributions that address, challenge and explore these diverse and often divergent archaeological engagements with identity. The goal being to ask new questions, critically examine the use of material culture and the application of theoretical approaches that seek to reconfigure identity for present and future pasts.
SCIENCE & ARCHAEOLOGY
‘Hard’ science has long been used as a major tool in archaeology, and its application and impact are growing: for example, recent advances in organic chemistry and recent applications of isotope analysis are helping to revolutionise our understanding of prehistoric diet and mobility. However, its use is not unproblematic. Misunderstanding of scientific techniques by archaeologists, and of archaeology by scientists, can lead to the wrong conclusions being drawn. Worse, the ‘have analytical technique, seek archaeological fodder’ phenomenon can waste precious archaeological resources. Conversely, the cost of analysis and uneven distribution of equipment means that some useful analysis fails to be undertaken. This theme will explore ways of linking the two communities, facilitating mutual understanding and ensuring that the right kind of analytical work gets done.
This is an emerging trend as highlighted by recent research in Archaeology and Digital Communication: Towards Strategies of Public Engagement (2012) edited by Chiara Bonacchi which recognises that “archaeologists now face a myriad of ways of engaging with the public – from print publication to exhibition formats, including 3D digitisation and visualisations, and increasingly both through and combining digital products and social media. It is critical that the potential and limitations of these vehicles are utilised effectively and appropriately to ensure optimal audience reach and participation. The theme of Communicating Archaeology encourages the exploration of how archaeology is now engaging the public in the rapidly changing world of visual and digital communication, museum exhibitions and other media as well as how this practice has changed over time to suit new audiences.
The theme highlights digital strategies of public engagement that will be of interest to archaeologists working in various contexts, particularly in collaboration with media professionals and institutions. It will identify some of the most promising uses of digital media in different domains of archaeological communication and the benefits they can generate for participants. The theme encourages the presentation of case studies highlighting how such media experiences are designed and consumed.”
The Communicating Archaeology theme is generously sponsored by Forestry Commission Scotland.
LEGACIES & VISIONS
The concept of an archaeological legacy seems to have four components: Inspiration, Trajectory, Achievements and Inheritance. The legacies from our predecessor archaeologists have inspired the present generation of archaeologists by the advances made in understanding and theory, by the invention or adaption of techniques and methods, by particular papers, articles, books and exhibitions which broke new ground or changed ideas and by discoveries which profoundly changed perceptions. Each of these gifts provide us with trajectories of thought and idea: where did they come from and where did they take our predecessors and are taking us? What new main tracks of concept and knowledge did they reveal but also what side-tracks were explored (and what might be worth re-exploring now)? Were their dead-ends necessarily our blind alleys or can we learn from or should we explore their short-comings?
Our predecessors continue to inspire and challenge us by their targets and their surprises, their changes of perception and by their defeats and mistakes. And if they have left us a huge wealth of dynamic understanding what should we be thinking of passing on to our successor generations? How strongly should we try to influence what they do with our legacies, what hopes do we have for new knowledge and are there warnings that we must leave? The theme of Legacies and Visions therefore invites sessions and papers that acknowledge where we have all come from and look imaginatively to where we should go and what we must discover.
There is scarcely a place in Europe between Ireland and Anatolia that has not been touched by the Celtic language and culture at one time or another. The Celtic phenomenon has been described as the first European culture, and yet the very concept of Celtic remains contested. The links between Celtic languages and material culture remain problematic. Fundamental archaeological questions relating to the origins and flow of Celtic culture are currently up in the air with the traditional model of dissemination from central Europe being replaced with an Atlantic origin. The significance of the Celtic contribution to European culture in religious, political, artistic arenas are also debatable. In some regions Celtic carries a purely academic meaning, while elsewhere the ‘Asterix’ ideal has elevated the Celt to an archetype of resistance and independence. In Britain, the Celticity debate has encouraged certain Anglo-Saxon prehistorians to question the existence of Celts. Such a view finds little encouragement in Scotland, which is experiencing something of a Gaelic revival. All of which makes Glasgow, Baile Mòr nan Gàidheal – ‘city of the Gael’ , as it was known in the 19th century, the ideal setting to discuss these and other Celtic issues.
INTERPRETING THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD
In addition to the six key themes that form the framework for the EAA Glasgow it is important to ensure sessions with a broader interest base are comfortably accommodated within the programme