We might just call this the Covid-19 pandemic issue, and apologize profusely that it has come out so late. This was due to uncertainties arising from the unfortunate but necessary cancellation of the original EAA 2020 in Budapest, and the challenge of finding new, productive online alternatives. This is work in progress – bear with us, and in fact, build with us! The 2020 EAA Virtual Annual Meeting is new to everyone, and you have the potential to shape it and make it a success. EAA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting will be held in the same week as the cancelled onsite meeting, 24 – 30 August 2020, and will be held as a service to members, with no registration fee or other charge for current (2020) EAA members.
As you will see in the Calendar, the conference year 2020 has largely been postponed, but several events are planned for November. Whilst we are slowly emerging from lockdown in most of Europe, international travel is still restricted, and the notion that large gatherings may represent health threats will be ingrained in us for the near future. Of course we all must remain vigilant about the health safety of ourselves, our families and our colleagues. We must also remain vigilant about our professions and our shared responsibilities to archaeological heritage and the public.
The pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on the cultural heritage sector. Museums, libraries and even open-air exhibits were closed. People were forced to stay home, and holiday trips to heritage sites have been cancelled or postponed. In person teaching, mentoring and tutorials stopped, and uncertainty remains over 2020 autumn and winter semesters. Commercial archaeology and the public heritage sector face economic uncertainties surrounding development (and by extension, development-led archaeology), and funding cuts are likely in all heritage arenas. In particular, many public engagements are on hold for the foreseeable future. It is therefore imperative that we remind public and private sector decision makers that archaeological heritage is an economic asset, a social asset, and a non-renewable resource. The preservation and presentation of our shared heritage will help to hold Europe together as we work to restore our communities.
This issue contains a Europe Day Manifesto announcing “Cultural Heritage: a powerful catalyst for the future of Europe”. Although the European Heritage Alliance, including EAA, initiated this manifesto in May 2020, members can still sign the foundational document linked to in the announcement. EAA also signed a joint letter to the European Commission regarding the effect of COVID-19 on Creative Europe and the European Cultural and Creative Sectors, with proposals to cope with consequences of the virus. This issue also includes a report on the first workshop of the EAA Community on Fortification Research (COMFORT), an announcement of a new archaeoinformatics review section in the DGUF journal Archäologische Informationen, and an update regarding the European Archaeology Days (spoiler alert – expect virtual events with #Archeorama).
Timely: as we struggle to entertain our children at home, the colouring book published by the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University, Sweden, may provide some distraction!
Our next issue, Summer 2020, has a deadline of 15 July 2020. What do you want to see on the final page of your newsletter? We look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roderick B. Salisbury and Katharina Rebay-Salisbury