The EAA 2nd Annual Meeting took place in Riga, Latvia, 25-29 September 1996.
The Riga Meeting brough together 255 professional archaeologists from 26 European countries, as well as participants from the USA and Japan. The venue, Latvia, is a country which considers itself as a bridge between East and West Europe. It therefore proved an ideal location for continuing to broaden the membership base of the EAA, since it was practical for sizeable groups from neighbouring countries of the former Soviet Union to attend as well as from the newly democratic countries of Central Europe. This was an important goal both for the EAA leadership and the Meeting Organisers in Latvia. The meeting proved to be a significant event in the continued intergration of the various approaches to European archaeological research, heritage conservation and management. Particularly after the long years of Soviet occupation the Latvians were pleased to be able to show the reseach and rich collection of archaeological material that had accumulated but also to use the opportunity to learn from their European colleagues about new techniques and approaches.
The Meeting was held in the Congress Hall in central Riga and featured three days of academic discussion. The sessions covered diverse topics reflecting a broad range of archaeological interests amongst the members. There was a strong emphasis on recently developed subjects such as politics and ideology in archaeology, landscape archaeology and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in addition to much discussion of traditional areas of interest such as settlement, cemetery analysis, ethnic identification and population movements in prehistory.
The Three Blocks included the following:
BLOCK I Archaeology and present-day Europe
- The Politics of archaeology: Nationalism and Identity
- Heritage Management in Europe: future developments
- Museum and archaeology
- Archaeology as social action: What archaeologists make
BLOCK II Theoretical and Methodical Aspects
- Combining the different dimensions of cultural space: towards a diverse landscape archaeology
- Technologies and raw materials
- Experiment, reconstruction and authenticity
- Gender archaeology
- Aerial archaeology and landscape studies
- Environmental archaeology and the application of GIS in landscape study
- Future directions in surface artefact study
BLOCK III Interpreting the Archaeological Record
- Problems of the Neolithisation of Europe
- Population movements in prehistory
- New directions in burial analysis
- Settlement archaeology
- Technological aspects of early metallurgy
- The archaeology of power
- Cultural identification or ‘ethnicity’ in archaeology
- Contacts across the Baltic Sea
- Maritime archaeology
- Stone Age art and the archaeology of cult: interpretations of human representations in prehistory
- The interface between archaeology and history
- Standards in contract archaeology
- Code of ethics
- Education in archaeology
- Underwater archaeology
- The destruction of archaeological monuments - where, when and how
- Heritage management - round table for heritage management agencies
On the opening day the participants were addressed by the Latvian Minister of Culture, Rikard Piks, the ministry being one of the main sponsors of the event. Support also came from the Science Council of Latvia, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Latvian Forest Company.
The organisers of the Meeting were a group of interested institutions in Latvia: the Latvian Society of Archaeologists , the Latvian Institute of History, the State Inspectorate for Cultural Heritage Protection, the Faculty of History and Philosophy, University of Latvia and the Latvian History Museum each of which provided a significant amount of organisational and practical support. In practice the Meeting embraced virtually the whole small archaeaological community in Latvia.
The meeting's complimentary activities included the EAA Annual Party in the rustic atmosphere of the Open Air Museum on the outskirts of Riga and the Closing Dinner held in the grand Riga Latvian Society Hall in the town centre. Other planned events included: visits to the Latvian Museum of History, architectural tour of the city centre. The Meeting concluded with a day of organised excursions to North & South Kurzeme, the Abava and Daugava Vallies, Zemgale and Vidzeme to allow the participants to truly experience Latvian archaeology.