As archaeologists, we tend to look at things differently than other people. We live with the times, but we see through time. Some vestiges of the past are obvious reminders of times beyond living memory (Stonehenge), while others are intentionally destroyed or preserved in meaningful or meaning-laden ways (the Berlin Wall or Mostar Bridge). A place is far more than a moment in time; it is all the moments that have formed it.
Matt and I were both struck by the complex, varied, and rich tapestry that is Belfast. Like any other place in which people have lived and loved and lost, Belfast has weight. It has scars, but those scars have been softened with perseverance and hope. For those of us with the archaeological gaze, we may have more sensitivity to how the weight a place is carried today. Some cities are more like fading debutantes who want to diet away previous extravagances, desperate to camouflage a myriad of sins with a fresh coat of paint. Others accept the cracks in their facades—be they caused by rifle fire, earthquakes, or social unrest—with grace and humility. We can attempt to deny the past. We can try to cover it up or tear it down. However, none of those actions change what happened: the past is part of where we are today. Seeing with the archaeological gaze gives us a fuller understanding of how we got to where we are now.
Speaking of ‘the archaeological gaze’, seeing so many of you at the 2023 Annual Meeting was a sight for sore eyes! We learned that 2023 marked the biggest AM to date, with an all-time high in membership of c. 4,500 members. In relation, this issue contains the Secretariat’s minutes from the Annual Business Meeting as well as a review of the 2023 AM and some recommendations for utilizing the lessons learned for future AMs. The final 2023 AM report as well as the results of the evaluation survey and plans for the Rome AM will be published in the Winter 2024 issue of TEA.
Alongside TEA’s editor S. Reiter as moderator, a jury of professional photographers and fine arts professionals convened online on 5 August to evaluate the entries to TEA’s second photojournalism competition. Matt and I extend our heartfelt gratitude to members of the jury Theresa Airey, Charles W. Bowers and Sandy LeBrun-Evans who selected the five entries that moved on to the competition semi-final. EAA Members made the final decision, voting for the three winning entries by means of the EAA Annual Survey between 11 and 18 September. Over that time, 954 votes were received – our thanks to all of you that voted! TEA congratulates members Alicia Hernandez Tortoles (entry 102), Malena R. Beck (entry 109) and Micaela Sinibaldi (entry 117) on being the winners of 2024’s Photojournalism Competition ‘Out of the Comfort Zone’. In addition to being TEA’s ‘Photojournalists of the Year’, Tortoles, Beck and Sinibaldi will have their work featured on the 2024 covers of TEA, and each will receive one year’s gratis membership to the EAA.
For this issue, we continue on-trend with on-going features, including In Case You Missed It, a combined entry including stories selected by the EAA’s new Social Media Editor Joana Valdez-Tullett (you can read more about her in a ‘Chat over TEA with an EAA Official’) and previous Social Media Editor Win Scutt. Our EAA Meet a Member for Autumn 2023 is Uroš Matić, and our Community Spotlight is on the Archaeological Prospection Community.
We are also delighted to include the second installment of Christy Wong’s look at how the internet has changed cultural heritage trade. This selfsame subject is examined by different angles in relation to illegal artefact trade in Serbia and a debate piece on new legislature in Poland that may encourage artefact hunting.
A research article takes an exciting look at a collection of headless skeletons from Neolithic Vráble in Slovakia, before we travel to the other sides of the world to learn about the hitherto mostly unacknowledged importance of herbivore digesta and the new Sahul Database focusing on collecting Austronesian archaeological data. Next, we get our feet wet in the ‘Well of Nostalgia’ with Glazier’s review of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, before taking a deep dive into a ‘Day in the Life of a Freelance Zooarchaeologist’.
The issue rounds out with a timely debate piece on heritage practices and the mobilization of society in times of conflict and a conference report following EAA representation at CINGO.
Although the AM is over, we are already casting our minds ahead to the 2024 AM in Rome. As the ‘Eternal City’, Rome is another perfect study in place and time, especially considering the upcoming conference theme of ‘persisting with change’. Like Belfast, Rome carries its past (and its scars) with both dignity and humility. Though each city wears those scars in its own way, they nonetheless both look to their past (and their archaeology) as a rudder that can guide them into the future.
We look forward to seeing you all in 2024.
Samantha S. Reiter and Matthew J. Walsh