The EAA 4th Annual Meeting took place in Göteborg, Sweden 23-27 September 1998.
Over five hundred archaeologists converged on the charming campus of the University of Göteborg (Gothenburg) in Sweden at the end of September for the Association’s 4th Annual Conference. The Conference was generously sponsored by the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet), the University of Göteborg (Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Department of Archaeology), and the City of Göteborg, with the assistance of the County of Västra and a number of Swedish institutions, foundations, museums, and other bodies, including the Wenner Gren Foundation.
The 4th Annual Meeting was an important event for both Swedish and European archaeology. Not since 1874 when the World Archaeology Congress was held in Stockholm has Sweden hosted such a comprehensive archaeological meeting. The Göteborg Meeting 1998 thus served its intended role by contributing to the important and continuing discussions of the results, aims, identities and standards of European archaeology.
The opening ceremony on the afternoon of 23 September heard speeches of welcome from Erik Wegraeus (General Director of the National Heritage Board), Göte Bernhardsson (County Governor), Bo Samuelsson (Vice-Chancellor of the University), and Vivi-Ann Nilsson (Deputy Mayor and Chair of the City Cultural Board). Professor Jarl Nordbladh of the University’s Department of Archaeology delivered the EAA Annual Lecture on the theme of “Imagine archaeology: on the importance of images in archaeological presentation” and Dr Ulf Bertilsson of the National Heritage Board brought the ceremony to an end with a succinct account of Swedish archaeology and its organization. A wine reception offered by the City gave participants the opportunity to renew old and make new friendships, an opportunity that was eagerly seized.
The Academic Sessions
The three main themes of the Conference proper (Managing the Archaeological Record and the Cultural Heritage; Archaeology of Today - Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives; and Archaeology and Material Culture - Interpreting the Archaeological Record) attracted more than 360 papers, which were presented and discussed at well attended sessions and 50 posters were on display. Among the subjects included were: archaeological heritage and tourism; gender studies in archaeology; the archaeology of childhood; maritime and aerial archaeology; Interpreting cultural identities in the archaeological record as well as specific sessions on Baltic, Scandinavian and Mediterranean archaeology. Various selected
papers from the Meeting will be published in future issues of the Association’s journal, the European Journal of Archaeology (EJA).
The equally invaluable round tables discussed the following subjects: archaeology and the Internet; the education of archaeologists at all levels; archaeology as a profession and the future of EAA Meetings. Reports on these can be found on the latest edition of the newsletter, The European Archaeologists (TEA). The EAA Working Party on Commercial Archaeology also organised a round table and the EAA Principles of Conduct for Contract Archaeology they drew up were approved at the Annual Business Meeting held on 27 September (see TEA 10). A number of Directors of European archaeological heritage management once again took the opportunity to adopt the EAA Annual Meeting as an umbrella for their own meeting. Discussions proved fruitful and the intention to create their own organisation is as result transforming into a reality.
The well stocked bookshop, with books and reports from several European countries on display, attracted a steady stream of browsers and buyers. Despite the well known chronic poverty of archaeologists, the booksellers and publishers reported brisk business. In addition number of exhibitors displayed their wares to participants. Amongst them were ABEM Geophysical Instruments, the Göteborg City Museum, the Malmö Museum and the Swedish Institute at Athens.
The conference fee covered the cost of the entrance fee to the Göteborg City Museum which many delegates took advantage of and at the end of the meeting there was a series of half- and full-day visits to see something of the rich archaeological heritage of this part of Sweden, including the World Heritage rock art of Tanum, the Southern Uplands and the Iron Age sites at Halland.
The programme included the now traditional EAA Party which this year featured one of Sweden’s best sould bands, Soul Attraction, and the Conference Dinner, where exuberant delegates tasted the delights of fine Swedish cuisine and live jazz music in the assembly rooms of one of the more famous and oldest restaurants in Göteborg, Väland.
The final tally of those who registered and attended the EAA 4th Annual Meeting was 508. Once again they came from a large number of countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world; in total 37 different nationalities were represented which is an increase from 1997. The Swedes understandably constituted the largest number, but in addition there were large groups from the United Kingdom, Russia, Norway, and Germany. Both old and new members alike took part in the Annual Meeting the EAA held its Annual Business Meeting (ABM), on the penultimate day of the conference and had a chance to take part in the voting process.
The quality of the Annual Meetings has also been assessed as was agreed, and will continue to be discussed in future years in order to ensure that the members receive the best possible service and forum for archaeological discussion possible. The results of the Round table on the Annual Meetings can be read in TEA 10.
In Göteborg the Co-ordinating Conference Organizer from the Department of Archaeology brought together a splendid team of colleagues and students whose efficiency and good humour ensured that the whole operation ran like clockwork. The standing ovation that they received at the Closing Dinner testified to the splendid job that they had done and the gratitude of all those who took part in a truly memorable Conference.