Cover: Mud in the Hands and Dust in the Eyes

Alicia Hernández Tórtoles
Institute of History, Spanish National Research Council (IH - CSIC)

This picture was taken in 2016 during what was a relatively cool summer for the north of Spain. I was carrying out the photographic control of the process, but from time to time could not resist taking some pictures of people working so they had a nice “archaeo-souvenir”. My colleague in the picture was disposing of excavation spoil, when I heard him say "Oi! (something like that but in Spanish), what a wind! The bucket almost flew away!". I pivoted on my heel, raised my camera to my eye and caught the exact moment when he covered his eyes.

This image is neither artistic, methodological nor professional. Nevertheless, it shows what field archaeology is all about: mud on your hands and dust in your eyes. Being in the field is more than the sum of its parts; it is the simultaneous fusion of work and passion punctuated by beautiful moments.

My camera survived that and many other archaeological excavations. With it, I took pictures of stratigraphic units, archaeological materials, landscapes and also some good memories. Now it is broken in at least 20 different places! Regardless... it was my first camera and carries meaning beyond its functionality. I intend to be buried with it so future archaeologists will believe that it was something important to me in life—indeed, that it represents a ritual object!

I thank the model Antxoka Martínez-Velasco for his work and dedication to our profession as well as all my colleagues for being with me all the way!

Go back to top


Calendar for EAA Members

  • 18 January: Executive Board meeting
  • 29 January 2024: Final list of sessions and session organisers published
  • January / February:
    • Call for nominations to the European Heritage Prize circulated to the Members
    • Call for nominations to the Early Career Achievement Prize circulated to the Members
    • Call for nominations by Members to the EAA election circulated to the Members
  • 1 February: Call for volunteers opens
  • 8 February: Deadline for paper (oral presentations) submissions
  • 29 February: Deadline for nominations to the EAA Book Prize
  • 1 March: Call for volunteers closes
  • 7 March: Deadline for session organisers to evaluate contributions
  • 11 March: Partial deadline to apply for EAA financial support to EAA Communities
  • 22 – 24 March: EAA Executive Board meeting
  • 25 March:
    • Announcement of contributions acceptance / rejection to presenters at the 30th EAA Annual Meeting website
    • Announcement of volunteers' acceptance / rejection
  • 29 March - 1 April: EAA Secretariat closed for Easter
  • 31 March: Deadline for early bird membership fee payment
  • 1 April: Call for grant applications ends
  • 1 April: Deadline for submissions to TEA spring issue
  • 2 April: Deadline for nominations of election candidates by Members
  • 8 April 2024: Deadline for poster proposal submissions
  • 12 April: Deadline for early bird registration fee payment
  • 15 April: Announcement of grants allocation
  • 25 April:
    • Registration and membership payment deadline for presenters (first authors)
    • Deadline for Annual Meeting registration cancellation without cancellation fee
  • April – May: Call for nominations to the EAA Student Award circulated to the Members
  • 1 May: Deadline for nominations to the European Heritage Prize
  • 6 May: Announcement of acceptance / rejection of poster proposals
  • 17 May: Preliminary version of scientific programme announced at the 30th EAA Annual Meeting website
  • 31 May: Deadline for membership and Annual Meeting registration fee payment for presenters (first authors) of posters
Other important upcoming events
Go back to top

Report: EAA 2023 Annual Evaluation Survey


Executive Summary and Ways Forward

Altogether 646 responses were received (16% of current EAA Members).

While respondents appreciated the wide range of topics covered in the academic programme, the high number of parallel sessions and the length of the daily programme made the Annual Meeting very intense. The EAA must continue to aim to avoid thematically overlapping sessions, and possibly devise a way how to make session recordings available as soon as the sessions end, still in the All in the Loop platform.

E-poster boards are a good step in terms of sustainability, but hinder discussion of poster authors with the audience. Better presentation of posters must be ensured (e.g. by way of a dedicated poster session and/or formal presentation of posters in sessions and/or making them more visible in the AITL app).

The limit of one contribution per person as the main author suits 48% of respondents, but the EAA will accommodate the 29% respondents who wish to be able to present two contributions as the main author by allowing both oral and poster presentations as the main author. More flexibility will be provided to representatives of EAA constituents (e.g., EAA Advisory Committees).

The onsite organization was generally evaluated in positive terms, highlighting the volunteers’ helpfulness and clear signage within the venue. Minor drawbacks included food quality, quantity, and diversity at coffee breaks, lunch packs, and social events.

The online organization suffered from technical problems, connected with onsite equipment and lacking IT support. Half of the respondents rated the online organization as good, whereas 23% thought it was poor. Only 10% of respondents did not use any of the Annual Meeting hybrid elements, and 64% of respondents found the hybrid format useful. There is much room for improvement especially with regard to onsite equipment, software solutions, and the interaction between the in-person audience and the online audience. The hybrid format will be continued, but the EAA must ensure its seamless technical implementation and aim to better integrate the onsite and online audiences.

The European Archaeology Fair was a success, as an overwhelming majority of delegates (77%) attended the Fair onsite. The foremost reason to visit the online exhibitors’ profiles would be discounts on books or services offered, connected with the possibility to interact with the exhibitors.

Safety issues encountered by respondents refer mostly to Covid-19; the EAA must implement protective measures at future Annual Meetings.

Respondents would welcome better networking opportunities, parents’ room, and quiet room.

Only 7% of respondents will purchase a printed copy of the European Journal of Archaeology (EJA) in 2024.

An overview of the survey

The evaluation survey of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting in Belfast (AM; 30 August - 2 September 2023) and selected membership matters took place between 11 – 18 September 2023. Altogether 573 EAA Members responded in the 2023 evaluation survey in full; further 73 respondents started the survey but dropped out before completing it, and other 48 individuals viewed the survey but did not answer any question. The average time spent completing the survey was 13 minutes.

What is your current career stage?

610 responses

Career Stage Responses Percentage
BA Student 9 1.48%
MA Student 17 2.79%
PhD Researcher 117 19.18%
Postdoctoral Researcher 92 15.08%
Temporary Position as Principal Investigator 16 2.62%
Temporary employment in contract/commercial archaeology 8 1.31%
Temporary employment in the heritage sector 13 2.13%
Permanent academic employment 144 23.61%
Permanent employment in contract/commercial archaeology 24 3.93%
Permanent employment in the heritage sector 79 12.95%
Other permanent employment 13 2.13%
Freelancer 22 3.61%
Retired 39 6.39%
Unemployed 10 1.64%
Other 7 1.15%


What is the country where you work, study or reside (rather than your nationality)?

613 respondents

Did you attend the 29th EAA Annual Meeting in Belfast?

608 responses

Why did you not attend the 29th EAA Annual Meeting?

87 responses

Most of the respondents did not attend due to lack of time or timing incompatibility.

10 respondents could not pay the registration fees.

Other reasons included:

  • “EAA conferences are too big and several years ago lost their innovative dimension.”
  • Sustainability concerns

My 29th EAA Annual Meeting registration, attendance and travel costs were covered (tick all that apply):

567 responses

Please comment on the academic programme of the 29th Annual Meeting (character, design, and format).

351 respondents

Most respondents thought the academic programme was well-structured and interesting, offering a wide range of topics.

However, they commented on the high number of parallel (overlapping) sessions and:

  • Requested that there are fewer parallel sessions (implying a longer duration of the conference, merger of similar sessions, or fewer sessions/contributions accepted).
  • Appreciated the possibility to watch sessions online while running in between onsite sessions.
  • Requested that the session recordings are made available.
  • Requested that sessions be better thematically organized to avoid overlaps.
  • For some respondents, the sessions timetable was too long (8:30 – 18:30).
  • Technical difficulties with online streaming impaired the onsite sessions. Having all remote presentations pre-recorded might help avoid some problems.

Respondents appreciated the e-poster boards, but requested there are more of them and that there is a dedicated poster session.

The active participation at the 29th Annual Meeting was limited to one contribution per person as the main author, in order to facilitate the creation of the academic programme. Has this rule affected you (tick all that apply)?

540 respondents

The aspects of the one contribution per person as the main author rule specified in comments included:

  • Inability to attend the presentation where a respondent was listed as co-author
  • Caution in choosing the topic of the one presentation – presenters tended towards submitting 'safe' talks and reduced the number of more experimental talks
  • “The rule meant that I was able to attend, instead of my colleague doing two contributions.”

Please evaluate the poster presentations, which were displayed on e-poster boards onsite and available in the mobile app.

479 respondents

Respondents commented that

  • They were unaware of the e-poster boards or did not have time to browse them.
  • Most e-posters were completely overlooked; printed posters would have got more attention.
  • Posters should be displayed in the respective session.
  • Posters are designed for interaction, often used by students to meet their peers, network, etc., which is missed when they are presented in authors’ absence.
  • The e-poster boards should be more in number, placed in prominent position and better advertised.

Please rate the onsite organisation of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting.

415 responses

The respondents concurred that the onsite organisation of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting was good (81.5%).

Please comment on the onsite organisation of the 29th Annual Meeting.

300 responses

The respondents commented generally in positive terms, highlighting:

  • Volunteers’ helpfulness
  • Clear signage within the venue
  • Convenience of the reusable cups
  • A respondent suggested setting up an emergency hotline for the Annual Meeting that participants can call and get information from the organizers on what to do in a given situation.

Negative comments referred to:

  • Registration
  • Too short opening hours of registration on the Wednesday
  • Registration should be better sign-posted
  • Badges at registration should be distributed by their numbers, not evenly by alphabet, which created queues
  • Poor QUB technical equipment in lecture rooms (projectors, AC, lacking blinds)
  • Problems with hybrid format, difficulties in remote participation in onsite sessions, and inadequate technical support
  • Too few coffee break stations that were crowded and difficult to reach from some venues; respondents would prefer to have coffee and tea available throughout the whole day (which was often not the case in Whitla Hall) or at least in the early morning and after lunch. Special diet food options for lunch and the coffee breaks were lacking.
  • Difficult access for those with reduced mobility. Elevators were not accessible in some buildings, and bathrooms were often on different floors.
  • Lack of transport between the Closing Reception and the Annual Dinner.
Please rate the online organisation of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting (please leave unanswered if you only attended onsite).

240 responses

Half of the respondents (50%) found the online organisation of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting good, while 23% thought it was poor.

Please comment on the online organisation of the 29th Annual Meeting (please leave unanswered if you only attended onsite).

149 responses

Problems with the online element included:

  • Streaming
  • Internet access
  • Accessibility (pop-ups blocking desktop displays, covering parts of presentations)
  • Sound

As a result of the technical issues, some sessions were much delayed.

IT support proved difficult to find.

Respondents appreciated the volunteers’ assistance, who however should receive more training, or professional IT support provided.

Online attendees

  • Would welcome previous contact with session organizers before presenting.
  • Had difficulties seeing and hearing the onsite presentations.
  • Complained that the session chat was not monitored.
  • Would have preferred to see the onsite audience especially when answering questions, and know how many people were attending the session remotely.
  • Requested that strict and enforceable rules for session organizers regarding engagement with the remote audience are created and enforced by the volunteers.
  • Reported problems when trying to attend two sessions simultaneously.
  • Requested that the registration fee for online participation is lower than for onsite.
Which hybrid format elements of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting applied to you (please tick all that apply)?

862 responses

How many sessions did you attend online?

468 responses

Altogether 38% of respondents attended one or more sessions in which they were not presenting or organising.

Did you find the hybrid format of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting useful?

418 responses

Altogether 64% of respondents found the hybrid format useful, as compared to 18% who found the hybrid format not useful. This corresponds with the results of the 2022 annual evaluation survey, where 61% or respondents found the hybrid format useful or very useful, while 23% perceived it as not very useful.

Which hybrid format element do you think needs improvement the most (scale from 0 - does not need to improve at all, through to 100 - needs to improve significantly)? If you do not wish to rate an element, please leave the option unanswered.

862 responses

The elements needing improvement are ordered from those needing most improvement to those needing less improvement (but still significant one):

  • Onsite equipment (webcams, microphone, loudspeakers, etc.) need improvement the most – 61.5 score
  • Remote presenters’ equipment (headset, internet connection parameters) – 49.8 score
  • Software used (All in the Loop + Zoom) – 49.2 score
  • Behaviour of onsite participants (talking to the microphone, not moving from the camera, organisation of the discussion) – 49.1 score
  • Onsite volunteers / IT support – 47.9 score
  • Online test rooms – 36.6 score
Please comment on the hybrid format elements needing improvement.

279 responses

Respondents commented on

  • Behaviour of onsite presenters which needs to take into account the remote participants, using the webcam and microphone consistently
  • The need for adequate audio-visual equipment (loudspeakers, two webcams (one facing the presenter, the other facing the audience) and ideally 3 portable microphones) for the onsite audience to improve discussion with remote participants
  • The interaction between the in-person audience and the online audience which was poor
  • Respondents required that it is made clear which presenters will be onsite / online.
  • When talking to the mic, the speaker should always introduce themselves.
  • Networking opportunities for online participants should be developed.
  • Mandatory test for online presenters to be introduced.
  • Some respondents thought the hybrid format should be abandoned, as it discriminates the onsite attendees (in terms of cost and behaviour) and feeds into the narrow conception of a conference as a place to present rather than discuss in person. If the hybrid format is maintained, a session organiser should always be onsite.
How satisfied were you with the software used (if you did not use it, please leave the option unanswered)?

235 responses

Respondents gave the All in the Loop software an average of 59 points out of 100.

Respondents gave the mobile app an average of 63 points out of 100.

Please comment on the All in the Loop software and/or the mobile app, specifying the context of your attendance (session organiser, presenter, attendee; if you did not use it, please leave the option unanswered).

198 responses

Evaluation of the All in the Loop software in combination with Zoom often stressed the apparent incompatibility of the two (double streaming, producing echo if AITL was not closed). Having the two platforms equipped with chat functionality meant that either might have been left unmonitored.

The printed Programme summary was useful to many.

Most respondents found the mobile app useful, but commented

  • It was slow and crashed frequently.
  • On an iPhone, times were not displayed - all sessions/presentations on a given day had the same time.
  • It was impossible to copy/paste text from the mobile application to another mobile application such as an email or a notebook, whereas this is possible from a computer.
  • If you have starred a session organiser, they do not appear among the starred people to whom it is possible to send a message.
  • There is no button for returning to the home page, which is annoying if you are doing several searches among the participants because you need to use the previous button as many times as searches have been done.
  • Only the sessions are displayed in "My Agenda", which makes it difficult to organise your day, as it is the session times that are displayed and not the presentation times.
  • A universal search function on the landing page would be useful to search names, keywords, session numbers, institutions, etc.
  • It would be good if the mobile app could have 2 windows/panes to look at e.g. program and map at the same time.
  • Scroll bar function would be useful in the programme tab.
  • It would have been nice if the app had a little virtual map to guide you to the different locations. So when clicking on a session, and then clicking on the name of the building, a map would show up telling you were to go. Sometimes it was a little hard to find your way around.
  • Inability to go 'back' in the sessions part without it resetting all the tabs.
  • Cumbersome navigation. Had to start over for every new enquiry and go through multiple steps to find most things. (eg. to find out where and when NN is presenting, one had to go to the presenters list, then search for NN (even if NN was previously starred), then go to NN's profile, then scroll down and go on to NN's presentation, then from there go to NN's session. Then remember the venue code/name and time. Then go back to the main menu and select maps. Then find the right building to open the building sketch and look through it to find the right room code. Then still find a physical map of the campus to find the way there.
I visited the 29th EAA Annual Meeting European Archaeology Fair (EAF).

470 responses

An overwhelming majority of delegates (77%) attended the Fair onsite while only 5% visited the online exhibitors’ profiles.

One-fifth of respondents did not attend the Fair at all.

Please tick the reason that brings, or would most likely bring you, to visit the online profile of the European Archaeology Fair exhibitors (tick all that apply):

552 responses

The foremost reason to visit the online exhibitors’ profiles would be discounts on books or services offered, connected with the possibility to interact with the exhibitors.

Attractiveness of gaming elements is negligible.

Among other factors that would bring visitors to the online exhibitors’ profiles were:

  • Possibility to see new technologies and equipment
  • Access to independent reviews of the books available, online author interviews, or discussions about the titles presented at the Fair

I experienced safety issues while attending the 29th EAA Annual Meeting (onsite or online).

462 responses

While 90% of respondents did not experience any safety issues while attending the Annual Meeting, 9% of respondents did. In other questions, respondents complained about lack of Covid-19 preventive measures (hand sanitizers, encouragement to wear masks, better ventilation, availability of test kits). Only six respondents commented:

  • I did not experience any but it was good to see so many clear statements on expected behavior and who to contact if there was a problem. I think these notices are very important.
  • COVID super-spreader event - no mitigations
  • Lots of wires spread across flooring which presented hazards for tripping. No briefing on fire or emergency procedures/evacuations. Building work going on across a few buildings which caused disruptions for presentations as well as health concerns for dangerous equipment around spaces.
  • While I did not, some known bullies were registered, and I am aware that it caused anxiety to their victims.
  • I didn't myself, but a colleague of mine was accosted when she was walking back to her hotel after the party. Fortunately, she was able to get away without any physical harm done.
  • A colleague reported issues to me.
Please comment on any aspect of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting not covered by the above.

114 responses

Respondents suggested:

  • To offer a mobile device charging station
  • To design the printed Programme as well as the web in an easy-to-read format (contrast)
  • To create a forum/group in which people traveling alone can previously meet and share costs (travel, room)
  • To allow delegates to dance at the Annual Dinner
  • The Annual Dinner was not worth the price
  • Stop handing out canvas tote bags as they require vast amounts of water to make; paper bags can be used instead
The 30th EAA Annual Meeting will take place on 28 - 31 August 2024 in Rome, Italy; the same EAA Annual Meeting registration fees will apply to both onsite and online attendees. If there are no Covid-19 related or other restrictions at the time, I prefer to

562 responses

While only 8 respondents commented, the foremost reasons for a decision to attend online are timing constraints and increased cost of onsite attendance.

Is there any feature, currently not present at EAA Annual Meetings, that you would recommend implementing?

177 responses

Respondents would welcome:

  • Better networking opportunities (both onsite and online), e.g. by way of more focused parties (such as MERC) or a buddy system for first-time attendees.
  • Room for parents with young children equipped with some toys, hygienic products, etc.
  • Quiet room with soft seating furniture
  • Separate the morning and afternoon sessions in different tabs in the app so you don’t have to scroll through ALL of the morning ones to get to the afternoon or evening ones
  • A disclaimer at the Annual Meeting web encouraging train/bus or other non-flying travel options.
Since January 2022, receipt of a print copy of the European Journal of Archaeology (EJA) is no longer part of the EAA membership benefits. The price of the printed EJA copy will be 18 EUR in 2024.

541 responses

The European Archaeologist (the EAA’s newsletter) has been running a photojournalism competition, the theme of which is: “Out of the comfort zone: Fieldwork in perspective”. Which of the following images best reflect this theme (select three; view the images by clicking on the individual options below)?

954 responses

Go back to top

Report: Looking back and forward: Belfast Annual Meeting Report and prospect of the Rome Annual Meeting

EAA Secretariat

The 29th Annual Meeting in Belfast was held on 30 August - 2 September 2023 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It welcomed altogether 3,333 participants, of which 2,417 attended onsite and 916 took part remotely. The high attendance meant the 29th Annual Meeting surpassed the biggest EAA Annual Meeting to date, in Barcelona, 2018, with 2,970 delegates. See Figure 1.

Figure 1. EAA Annual Meeting participants

Queen’s University Belfast campus welcomed the high number of delegates generously. The dispersed location of lecture rooms, which initially was a concern in terms of signage, proved to be a plus in avoiding crowds. Respondents in the EAA 2023 annual evaluation survey concurred that the onsite organisation of the 29th EAA Annual Meeting was good (81.5%), highlighting the volunteers’ helpfulness and clear signage within the campus (albeit lost individuals were reported, too).

The one place where crowds were desirable was the European Archaeology Fair, as this meant good traffic at the exhibitors’ stands. For this reason, the Fair was combined with the registration and coffee break in Whitla Hall, which provided for a perfect venue to accommodate these in one compact space. The evaluation survey ran among the exhibitors demonstrated that 92% of them were satisfied with their onsite presence at the Fair, which the Members’ evaluation survey corroborates with an overwhelming majority of delegates (77%) visited the Fair onsite.

The academic programme included 278 sessions (and 2,576 papers) presented over three days, which translated into 50 parallel sessions – a number that no individual can readily cope with, despite efforts made by the Scientific Committee to avoid thematic overlaps. Livestreaming of sessions released the pressure for some delegates (individuals reported to have been following up to three sessions in parallel). Recordings of sessions will add further opportunities to catch up with the academic content; we trust these should be available in early 2024. For the Rome Annual Meeting, we will devise a way how to make session recordings available as soon as the sessions end in the All in the Loop platform (so that those eager for knowledge can absorb it day and night during the conference week). Annual evaluation survey respondents requested there are fewer parallel sessions; alternatives to decrease the number of parallel sessions include longer duration of the conference, merger of similar sessions, or less sessions / contributions accepted. In view of the record number of sessions submitted for the 30th EAA Annual Meeting in Rome (535), and the number of rooms available for sessions, the EAA Executive Board has appealed to the Scientific Committee to reduce the number of sessions and pay even more attention to tagging the sessions to avoid thematic overlaps.

In an effort to manage the size of the conference, active participation at the 29th Annual Meeting was limited for the first time to one contribution per person as main author, with other options still available for further contributions. This rule suits 48% respondents in the annual evaluation survey, and further 13% respondents successfully diversified their presentations, e.g. by participating in round tables and workshops or being 2nd authors in colleagues’ contributions. However, 29% of respondents wish to be able to present two contributions as main author. The EAA Executive Board and organisers of the 30th EAA Annual Meeting in Rome took this request into consideration. Since allowing main authorship of two oral contributions would make creation of the academic programme impossible due to scheduling conflicts, the EAA will experiment in 2024, allowing one oral and one poster contribution as main author.

Such a trial will also cast light on the nature – and future – of poster presentations. In recent years, the EAA Annual Meetings saw limited number of posters (106 in Belfast 2023, 135 in Budapest 2022). For sustainability and space reasons, printed poster display was abandoned after Covid, and posters are now available on e-poster boards, in the mobile app and on the EAA website. While 44% of respondents in the 2023 annual evaluation survey browsed posters digitally, 25% would prefer printed poster display, and 13% declared not being interested in posters. The possibility in 2024 to present a poster in addition to (or instead of) an oral contribution will likely result in an increased number of posters, which the EAA will attempt to make more visible and interactive.

The hybrid format of EAA Annual Meetings continues to cause some issues, despite great efforts to optimise the online component. The difficulties stem mostly from a combination of non-standardised technical equipment available locally, and the level of support available. While most volunteers received thorough training in the softwares used (All in the Loop and Zoom) and all lecture rooms had been checked, specific settings in some lecture rooms required additional IT knowledge or access permissions the volunteers did not have. Extra IT support was employed, but some sessions held on the first morning suffered from major delays due to technical issues. The EAA would like to use this opportunity to apologize to all those affected and reassure EAA Members that further measures will be adopted in Rome to ensure smooth running of the 2024 conference. It is encouraging that, despite the technical issues, 64% of respondents in the annual evaluation survey found the hybrid format useful as compared to 18% who found the hybrid format not useful.

The social events included the Opening Ceremony and Reception at the ICC Belfast, the Annual Party in the Lavery's, MERC party in The Dark Horse Bar, Closing Reception at the Ulster Museum, and the Annual Dinner in Titanic Belfast. All of these events were plentifully attended, and therefore had to follow the venue’s accessibility regulations (including access denial to those who had not previously registered for the Closing Reception). Fitting Annual Meeting attendees into the best local venues that our hosts wish to boast about has almost become mission impossible, and by adding the Closing Reception into the programme of Annual Meeting social events for the first time, we had hoped to provide for an alternative appropriate ending to the Annual Meeting. Together with our 2024 hosts, we will aim to offer a wider range of social events in Rome to fit every attendee (and every attendee to fit in).

The conference side programme offered altogether 14 optional excursions, most of which were quickly fully booked with a total of 432 participants. The excursions represent a self-contained chapter in the conference budget, where they need to be self-financing. Still, the prices and content offered provide an unmatched opportunity to learn more about the host country, including to volunteers who could opt to assist with the excursion logistics in return for attendance. While the excursions can only accommodate low numbers of participants, we believe it important to continue offering them, possibly also as an inspiration for self-organised tours that our energetic colleagues might then plan on their own.

The organisers aimed to facilitate delegates’ experience by providing logistic assistance. Transport between venues was eased by hiring a taxi dispatcher, available at campus on Saturday evening. In general, (shared) taxis were a good alternative to public transport, whereas shuttle buses would have burdened the already tight conference budget. Accommodation could be booked in different sorts of hotels, apartments and student dormitories, but since availability was limited, it was the delegates’ responsibility to timely select and book appropriate accommodation. As with excursions, the options for delegates’ accommodation that the local organisers identify is an extra service and is not part of the conference costs.

While no serious safety issues were reported during the Meeting, the EAA underestimated the persistence of Covid-19 and did not remind attendees of recommended hygiene measures to limit its spread nor implement any venue-specific measures to assist with its control; the infection was then an unwelcome souvenir brought home by many delegates. We will endeavour that only good mood spreads in Rome next year!

No EAA Annual Meeting could be held were it not for the volunteers. In Belfast, a total of 93 student volunteers and 20 mature volunteers from the Ulster Archaeological Society served onsite, and a further 15 volunteers assisted with the online component of the conference. Yet, due to the initial travel complications (a breakdown of air traffic control in London) and high rate of sickness among the onsite volunteers, having exhausted the pool of stand-by reserves, the organisers were compelled to ask fellow volunteers to step in. Initially, each volunteer was expected to work 24 hours during the conference week alongside their personal possibilities and preferences. On average, this hourly quota was met exactly, but individual input ranged from as few as 3 hours to as many as 28 hours. While last minute changes unfortunately cannot be avoided, in a dedicated volunteers’ survey, respondents would welcome more detailed briefings / training and better communication during the conference days. In order to better prepare our volunteers for their tasks, and in order to test all equipment in practice, a dry run (e.g. in the form of a volunteers' half-day mini-conference) will be considered for the 2024 Rome Annual Meeting. We sincerely thank all volunteers and hope the benefits they receive, together with their active Annual Meeting experience, make up for the intense conference week.

With lessons learned from the 29th EAA Annual Meeting, we are glad that many EAA Members already plan to attend the 30th edition in Rome in person or online. We will do our utmost to provide a gratifying experience.

Go back to top

Chat with EAA Official over TEA

Amanda Chadburn

Nationality: British

Institution(s): Universities of Oxford and Bournemouth, formerly English Heritage/ Historic England.

EAA Member since: 1995

Position on EAA Executive Board: 2020-2023

Position on Heritage Advisory Committee: 2023—2026

TEA: Archaeologists are such a diverse group; can you tell us about what drew you to the Heritage Advisory Committee and the Executive Board? What is the most important and relevant part of your work for the EAA?

A. Chadburn: I wanted to join the Executive Board as a way of giving something back to the EAA community. I have been an EAA Member for many years (I was at the first meeting in 1995) and our annual event was and is a big part of my yearly calendar. It’s my “go to” conference. I love travelling and catching up with old friends and meeting new people every year, preferably in person. I also love the excursions, especially when they are led by an archaeologist who is working at those sites and areas. You learn so much! It’s a brilliant form of continuing professional development (CPD).

I was appointed as a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee in September. I have worked as an archaeologist for nearly forty years in England, for the most part as a cultural heritage advisor or in managing teams of specialist advisors. So, the Committee was a natural fit for my experience, and I’m delighted to be on it.

TEA: Has archaeology always been your career goal?

A. Chadburn: Yes indeed, and from a really early age – according to my parents from around the age of 6 or 7. I was a child who loved the outdoors, getting muddy, finding things and looking at the natural world. I was also a bit nerdy and loved books, especially encyclopaedias and books about ancient people, places and myths. My younger sister even has a rather unusual Ancient Greek name (Oenone), because I was reading mythology and suggesting names to my parents! I went on my first dig when I was 11 and dug during the weekends and holidays throughout my secondary school education. These early experiences were mainly on threatened Roman sites in and around London. I’ve never really wanted to do anything except archaeology. I’ve been so lucky, but I also worked very hard to make it my career when it was a highly unusual career choice.

TEA: How do you see archaeology changing in the future?

A. Chadburn: I have seen so many technological changes over my professional lifetime and that is only going to continue. It’s hard to predict exactly how it will change – there will be new techniques which are not even invented yet that could completely upend everything! The speed of technological change is also moving faster; there will be changes to many parts of our discipline.

TEA: What/How does archaeology contribute to society at large?

A. Chadburn: I feel strongly about this question from a heritage perspective. Archaeological sites and monuments form part of the fabric of our landscapes, townscapes and cityscapes. Material remains of past lives are absolutely everywhere, and they give something that history alone cannot. For example, these remains contribute strongly to our sense of place, to feelings and memories of home and belonging – they are things of inspiration and awe. They can also evoke strong emotions, both negative and positive, helping us to remember both bad and good events. That’s why I’m so motivated to help care for them for present and future generations – cultural heritage and its protection have formed a big part of my career. I’m currently a trustee of World Heritage UK for this reason.

TEA: What is your best/worst/funniest/oddest archaeology/work story?

A. Chadburn: It’s not really archaeology, but perhaps my strangest day at work was 9/11. I was dealing with a lot of media enquiries about Stonehenge and Silbury Hill at the time. And on that day, English Heritage sent me on a media training course at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation offices in central London. The attacks started, and my fellow trainees and the journalist trainers got more and more drawn into viewing the vast banks of TV screens, eventually abandoning the training and watching the awful and tragic events unfold live, along with the rest of the newsroom. It was extraordinarily difficult to process what we were watching. It was hard to make any sense of it. On the way home, everyone in the streets was on their mobile phones, looking up at the sky. When you think about it, those attacks were on people, but they were also on culturally significant targets, which brings us back to heritage and archaeology.

TEA: If you could have a conversation with any archaeologist living or dead, who would it be, and what would you choose as the topic?

A. Chadburn: At present and because I’m working on one of her sites, I’d like to chat to Maud Cunnington (1861-1951). Maud excavated Woodhenge and its surrounding monuments with her husband Ben in 1926-8. She published them with admirable speed and very thoroughly in 1929. However, there are a few key questions I’d love to ask her about things which are neither in her publication, nor in the archive. She also sounds like a really interesting individual, if slightly formidable!

TEA: Do you go to archaeological sites on vacation, or do you do other things?

A. Chadburn: We tend to have active holidays and/or ones that involve culture/ history. We always visit at least one archaeological site and museum, usually many more. We always dragged the kids around them too. Luckily (or perhaps because of that) they love history! I always try to visit a World Heritage Site if I am near one – I only have 90% of the World Heritage List left to go!

TEA: What is it that drew you to culture?

A. Chadburn: As a child, I lived in Japan and Holland as well as the UK – I think that’s why I enjoy travelling and experiencing different cultures so much.

TEA: Any advice to new archaeologists just starting out/joining the EAA?

A. Chadburn: For new archaeologists I’d tell them to try and work out which part of the discipline attracts them the most. Archaeology is so wide-ranging. It’s important to eventually focus on what you love the most. Try and be open-minded and experience/consider lots of different paths before you settle on one, whether it be in museums, academia, government, commercial, etc. Archaeology has never been an easy or well-paying career. So, you need to love it. It’s a vocation. Also, if you really want a job in archaeology, don’t be put off by people who tell you not to go into it. That happened to me a lot when I was younger and I am glad I didn’t listen!

Go back to top

Image courtesy of A. Chadburn

Image from EAA Virtual Booth 2021, courtesy of A. Chadburn.

Chadburn holding an antler from Woodhenge; image courtesy of A. Chadburn

A passion for culture with A. Chadburn. Image © English Heritage Trust.