EAA 2021 Kiel Virtual Annual Meeting Report


Following a complex decision-making process with regard to the Covid-19 implications for the 27th Annual Meeting in Kiel, Germany (originally planned onsite), the Kiel Virtual Annual Meeting was held from Tuesday 7 to Saturday 11 September 2021 via the Hopin software platform. Session organisers and presenters were able to test the software one week prior to the Meeting.

The Opening Ceremony took place onsite at Christian Albrechts University Kiel on Wednesday 8 September. Parallel academic sessions took place online from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 18:30 CEST, and were complemented by one or two keynote lectures at 13:00 and/or 18:30 every day. On Friday evening, the Annual Membership Business Meeting (AMBM) was held via the Zoom platform so that all Members (not only those registered for the Annual Meeting) could attend.

The International Meeting for Phytolith Research (IMPR), which is a biannual scientific meeting of the International Phytolith Society (IPS), was part of the Kiel Virtual Annual Meeting as well. Altogether, six sessions and one keynote lecture were organised as part of the IMPR.

The European Archaeology Fair remained open to participants for the duration of the Meeting. In order to provide EAA Members the “feeling” of Kiel, the local partners recorded four virtual excursions.

Other Hopin features included networking, either random matching of participants, and direct individual / team contacts via chat messages or video meetings.


Altogether, 2588 Members (incl. 41 volunteers) and 43 non-member participants (exhibitors and complimentary attendees) from 66 countries registered for the EAA 2021 Annual Meeting (Chart 1). Of these, 88 registered participants eventually did not attend the Meeting. The date of participants’ registration (Chart 2) corresponds with deadlines for session organisers’ and presenters’ registrations. The increased tendency to register shortly before the dates of the Meeting is a usual trend for online conferences in general.

All participants had to be current EAA Members and pay reduced AM registration fee (50 % of the regular price).

Chart 1: Origin of Members attending the EAA 27th Annual Meeting, Kiel Virtual.

Chart 2: Date of participants’ registration for the EAA 27th Annual Meeting, Kiel Virtual.

The profile of EAA Members attending the Meeting suggests that virtual participation enables a relatively high attendance from the less well-off B-category countries (26%; Chart 3), as compared to 31% in 2020 (Virtual AM) on one hand, and 23% in 2019 (Bern AM), 22% in 2018 (Barcelona AM) and 17% in 2017 (Maastricht AM) on the other. The 2021 ratio of A/B categories resembles the higher percentage of B-category attendees in years when the AM was held in Central or Eastern Europe: 28% in 2016 (Vilnius AM) and 39% in 2013 (Plzeň AM).

Chart 3: Members from A and B-categories attending the EAA 27th Annual Meeting, Kiel Virtual.

As regards membership categories of the AM participants, this parallels the usual distribution over recent years (Table 1); no notable trend is apparent.















 Full  63,1  68,3  61,3  59,4  65,2  64,5  62,3  63,4  62,2  60,6  61,1  61,4  68,3
 Family  3,4  4,0  3,8  3,9  3,4  3,7  4,1  4,5  3,5  3,6  3,3  3,1  2,7
 Student  21,1  17,0  19,1  21,2  22,4  27,9  23,1  20,1  21,3  17,8  20,7  22,7  21,6
 Retired  1,8  1,2  2,5  2,5  2,4  2,9  3,6  3,8  2,9  4,1  3,1  2,9  1,5
 Corporate  1,1  1,1  0,6  0,6  0,4  0,4  5,0  5,3  5,0  0,7  6,0  5,0  2,6
 Complimentary  8,3  7,8  12,7  11,7  6,3  6,5  2,0  2,9  5,1  13,1  5,8  4,9  3,3

Table 1: Membership categories representation 2010–2021.

Academic and social programme

In total, 235 sessions were held and 2380 presentations given (Around 100 contributions were cancelled just a few days before and during the Meeting / were recorded as no-shows by session organisers / volunteers.), of which 2283 were spoken papers and 97 posters that had been uploaded in the EAA repository in pdf format in order to be accessed by participants. A total of 2401 active participants attended sessions and the average time spent at the Meeting was more than 17 hours. The overall peak period, with 970 active attendees at one moment, was on Thursday afternoon (Chart 4). The average attendance at sessions was 31 persons, and the most attended session had an audience of max. 104 visitors (Table 2).

Chart 4: Active users by time from 7 to 11 September 2021.

 Session  Max. attendance
 5. Understanding Prehistoric Demography  104
 468. Biosocial Archaeology: When Ancient DNA Opens the Discussion to Social Structures  92
 516. From Critique to Synthesis: Transcending the Genomic Divide within Archaeology  86
 131. The Place of Queer Theory in Current Archaeological Debates: All T, No Shade? [AGE]  73
 100. To Gender or not to Gender? Exploring Gender Variations through Time and Space [AGE]  69
 390. Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Archaeothanatological and Taphonomic Analyses of Human Remains  62
 497. What Do My Data Signify? How Can This Theory Be Supported? Interrogating Connections
between Science and Theory in Funerary Archaeology
 256. IMPR – Phytoliths Biogeochemistry - From Phytoliths Formation and Role in Modern Plants
to New Proxies for Archaeology and Palaeoecology

Table 2: Most attended sessions during the Meeting.

Seven keynote lectures (by Volker Hilberg, Henny Piezonka, Marzena Szmyt, Sandy Harrison, Claudia Theune, Eleanor Scerri and Mads Khäler Holst) and the Opening Ceremony took place on Stage 1 with about 756 visitors in total (average visit time: 90 minutes). At Stage 2, with a live keynote lecture by Dolores Piperno on Tuesday and recorded keynote lectures played from Wednesday, there were 518 visitors (average visit time: 30 minutes).

Four virtual excursions, prepared by the Kiel team, were displayed on a separate stage. From there 627 visitors watched the recordings (average visit time: 30 minutes) and an additional audience had already watched these videos on EAA YouTube channel, where the videos are available for the public.

Of the total 235 sessions, 142 sessions, the eight keynote lectures and the Opening Ceremony were recorded and the Opening Ceremony and keynote lectures are already publicly available online. For the remainder, the recordings of sessions will need to be processed and presenters’ consent requested for their publication on EAA YouTube. Members will be alerted once the recordings are available.

While the networking facility attracted 896 visitors, only 34 meetings actually took place which means that, contrary to the Virtual Annual Meeting in 2020, less connections were made during the Meeting. On the other hand, 25421 chat messages were sent in total.

European Archaeology Fair

The 2021 EAF featured 16 stands (including EAA Helpdesk and Photobooth):

  • 14CHRONO Centre
  • Archaeolingua
  • Archaeological Institute of America
  • Archaeopress Publishing Ltd
  • BAR Publishing
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • Brepols Publishers NV
  • Cambridge University Press
  • European Association of Archaeologists
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists
  • EAA 2022 Annual Meeting in Budapest
  • EAA 2023 Annual Meeting in Belfast
  • JAS Arqueologia
  • Oxford University Press
  • Photo Booth
  • Springer

Altogether, 1068 participants visited the Fair, 42 % of all attendees, from which 599 visited and spent time in one or more individual booths. The total time the participants spent in the Expo area was 1 140 hours, on average 64 minutes per visitor. The average time spent in an individual booth was 11,2 minutes, although in multiple booths the average visit reached up to 20 minutes. The most frequented booth had 228 visitors who spent on average 8 minutes in it.


The EAA 2021 Kiel Virtual Annual Meeting was, once again, a Meeting with considerably high attendance. The EAA 2021 Kiel Virtual Annual Meeting evaluation survey closes on 1 November and its results will be published on the EAA web. The EAA Executive Board and staff appreciate Members’ feedback and will endeavour to reflect the results of the survey in the online component of the hybrid 2022 28th Annual Meeting.

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27th AM of the EAA: President Criado-Boado’s Welcome Address

Dear members, colleagues and friends,

Welcome to Kiel for a virtual version of the 27th AM of the EAA. Even though the speakers at this opening ceremony are together in person in Kiel, we are all meeting in this virtual space. For the second time, our Annual Meeting (AM) is held virtually. Getting here has involved great efforts by many people and the entire organization. As far as I can see, the AM (that actually started on Monday Sept 6) is running well and smoothly. But we all miss being together in person. Sadly, the megalith outside this conference hall stands alone instead of continuing its life as a meeting point for the participants attending the AM.

Megalith on the quad outside Christian Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany (Source: photo by F. Criado-Boado)

In spite of these problems, the great achievement whose celebration should kickoff our 2021 AM in Kiel is that this AM has engaged almost 2600 (2577) virtual participants. This is a major achievement in itself, and includes 600 more than last year. However, our happiness at this expansion makes it even more apparent what we have lost. Therefore, we must also remember our dear members, friends and colleagues that passed away in the last year: John Coles, Jan Bouzek, Stanislaw Tabaczynski, Stanislaw Terna, Evzen Neustupný, Don Henson and Judith Roberts.

We are here for widening horizons. When our 2021 motto was chosen, nobody could predict that it would now be so very timely and appropriate. But we, as archaeologists, always know that the future cannot be gained without efforts to think and act differently in the present. Thanks to this awareness, something that is particularly relevant in the context of the current pandemic, we are actually widening horizons here, from Kiel. Let me offer some concrete examples of how.

  • We are presenting a new Strategic Plan for the next three years. Its definition was led by our new President. It is available to all members here.
  • The Strategic Plan provides new avenues to bolster the EAA’s internal life and external impact, mobilizing our collective intelligence through EAA Communities, Committees, Commissioners, and other new mechanisms.
  • We are also presenting for adoption by the AMBM a new Annual Statement that this year is devoted to Archaeology and Climate Change.
  • Moreover, we are proud to have been an umbrella for the celebration of the first International Summit on Social Archaeology of Climate Change, an event led by Johannes Müller and Peter Biehl, seconded by more than 60 archaeologists from all over the world.

This reminds us of the urgent need for archaeology to become more central in the main intellectual, practical and political debates of our present societies. Archaeology, with its unique capacities to combine long-term views, materiality, landscape, heritage and social relations in the past and present, is not yet visible at the places and think-tanks where decisions are being prepared and taken, unlike other relevant disciplines. It appears that for most of the public, intellectual and decision-makers, archaeology is a general curiosity, a fancy discipline of picturesque people who discover flashy things about the past. To convince these stakeholders that our discoveries also can explain the present and inform the future is a tough and still-pending issue. Together with the EAA, we should prioritise enhancing the social and practical relevance of our knowledge about the past and the heritage, and promote existing examples of such good practice. It is 50 years since biologist Roger Payne decided to produce the influential album Songs of the Humpback Whale: “I asked myself: If the only thing I knew about in enough detail to speak with any authority was how animals use sound, what could I do that might make a difference to the grim future of the natural world? And then I thought of whales”. What might we learn from this?

Last but not least, it has been an honour to serve you as your President, and our horizons are widening with your new President, Eszter Bánffy. It will be my special pleasure at the AMBM to formally hand over to her the responsibility of serving you all and taking care of the EAA.

All in all, even in these new ‘normal’ times, our present is quite promising and exciting. Nonetheless, problems still surround us: the pandemic, climate change and increasing social injustice.

For this, credit must be given to those who made this event possible. This applies particularly to Johannes Müller as chair of the Scientific Committee, as well as the Institute for Prehistory and Protohistory here in Kiel. In few other places it is possible to find such a positive and provoking conjunction of archaeological theory, scientific archaeology and landscape studies with awareness of current social problems, social archaeology and anthropologically based research. I anticipate a good example of this shortly in the keynote lecture by Henny Piezonka that closes this Opening Ceremony. For this, Christian Albrechts University Kiel must be also thanked, for hosting an institute such as this and for also hosting us. Thank you Simone Fulda. Beside Johannes and the Scientific Committee, the local organizing committee has to be acknowledged: Angelika Hoffmann, Annalena Pfeiffer and Hendrik Raese.

Beside those here in Kiel, once again we have to recognise the work done by our team of volunteers. We must also acknowledge the substantial role of our EAA Secretariat. Look at these pictures, at the way they have depicted themselves in the presentation that you will find in the EAA stand of the EAF (the Fair). They are present themselves by saying “… takes care of”. Let me guess that most of the men would have presented themselves otherwise, perhaps by saying “in charge of” or “responsible for”. But it is ‘to take care of’ that matters. This is what our Secretariat does for us, and it is what the entire EAA should do for its members and for archaeology. ‘To take care of’ is a good and simple summary of what the EAA does. Perhaps it could be a good motto for a future meeting… With this I finish, with a toast to taking care of everything that is memorable and important to us.

Thank you so much, and keep engaged, dear members!

F. Criado-Boado

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2021 Kiel Statement on Archaeology and Climate Change

This Statement was officially approved and adopted at the Annual Membership Businesses Meeting held per rollam on 20 - 23 September 2021. Please cite as “EAA 2021 Kiel Statement on Archaeology and Climate Change". The draft of this Statement was prepared by an EAA Task Force composed of Johannes Müller (Co-Chair), Amanda Chadburn (Co-Chair), Peter Biehl (EAA Community for Climate Change and Heritage), Eszter Bánffy and Felipe Criado-Boado during 2021.

The Statement can be accessed and downloaded here.

With extraordinary speed, the world, science, and archaeologists are experiencing dramatic changes in times of climate and social change. In addition to the current worldwide pandemic, the challenges of our modern societies are becoming all the more apparent, e.g. the environmental crisis, increasing inequality, global health, and the potential for conflict, to name just a few. Within our disciplines, in addition to the advancement of new methods, new forms of communication, and new threats to archaeological heritage, archaeologists need to take a more active role in contributing to the current climate change debate. The EAA is encouraging Members to formulate recommendations and best practices concerning ways to enhance the EAA’s effectiveness in addressing the multiple challenges posed by climate change to archaeological heritage. Especially in these critical times the reflection on past human behaviour is important for the self-assurance of human existence.

Archaeology provides a unique perspective to the interpretation of recent climate and cultural change and provides a vast array of data for the better understanding of the development of, and resilience to these global crises. “Widening Horizons” is necessary to fulfil our social duty: the departure to new horizons!

We take it as a given that archaeology and the archaeological and cultural heritage of which it is part, have much to offer efforts to address climate change including: palaeoclimatic data; models of adaptation; an understanding of the roots of the modern global system within which modern climate change has developed; and the debate about nature and the temporality of the Anthropocene. Evidence to date is showing that climate change presents an array of challenges for archaeology – from loss from erosion, fires, sea-level rise, to disconnection due to migration and loss of contact of affiliated communities, and damage deriving from conflict and other social changes. If we understand climate change as a whole-of-society problem, then the field of archaeology alone cannot provide a full understanding of climate change, nor solve all its challenges, but it does have a significant contribution to make.

The advocacy of archaeologists on local, regional, national, and global levels can play a pivotal role not only in protecting archaeological sites and data from the destruction through climate change, but also in learning from the past for the present and future.

The EAA wishes to show this advocacy and responsibility in this area through the presentation of this 2021 Kiel Statement on Archaeology and Climate Change.

The EAA states that:

1. Archaeologists can help understand climate change on a local to global scale by providing evidence and data from the past. In particular, it is the data from past societies and environments that archaeologists around the world provide on environmental and societal changes that better help to assess human-made global warming, and to carry out prognoses on the further development.

2. Archaeological research can contribute to increasing modern resilience and adaptation through lessons learned by past societies. Archaeological research deals with people from a wide range of social and temporal contexts, from Palaeolithic to contemporary societies. The diversity of social and economic conditions under a wide range of environmental conditions makes it possible to evaluate questions of sustainability and resilience. For example, archaeological insights into food security through the study of past agriculture and land-management practices may allow an understanding of what works, or could work in extreme ecological conditions resulting from modern climate change. Additionally, archaeologists may assist situations where a “sustainable” climate change mitigation strategies produce unsustainable local and social effects.

3. Climate change puts archaeological remains at risk. Among the climate-driven forces affecting archaeological sites are coastal erosion, sea-level rises leading to inundation, droughts, floods, the drying of soils including peats, soil erosion, increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, changes to the weather leading to extremes of heat, precipitation and storms, changes in vegetation and biodiversity, permafrost thawing, and glaciers melting.

4. Preserving both rural and urban archaeological sites and landscapes can help mitigate climate change. For example, preservation of archaeological sites and monuments in pasture, grasslands and peatlands can help both preserve cultural assets and help meet ecological, biodiversity and climate change goals.

5. Archaeologists and cultural resource managers must have a basic understanding of climate change issues in order to better protect and manage archaeological resources for the future. For example, archaeologists and cultural resource managers should create best practices to monitor and mitigate the effects of climate change on archaeological remains, and to create an appropriate record of those sites and remains which cannot be saved.

6. Archaeologists should explore ways to translate fundamental archaeological research into actionable science to inform decision-making, as well as monitor climate change as it relates to archaeology and heritage.

As an organisation, the EAA will also play its part in responsibly working towards UN Climate Change goals, net-zero emissions and limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5℃.

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Welcome by the Head of the Scientific Committee and Local Organizer*

Johannes Müller (Christian Albrechts University Kiel, Chair of the Scientific Committee)

With extraordinary speed, the world, science, and archaeologists are experiencing dramatic changes in times of climate and social change. Within our disciplines, in addition to the advancement of new methods, new forms of communication, and new threats to archaeological heritage, structures and formats are emerging, which are accelerated by the experience of a worldwide pandemic. The challenges of our modern societies are becoming all the more apparent, for example the environmental crisis, increasing inequality, and the potential for conflict, to name but a few aspects.

Especially in times such as these, the reflection of human behaviour from distant and far distant times is important for the self-assurance of human existence.

In this context, archaeology makes important contributions to the interpretation of recent cultural changes and provides crucial data for strategy development of our modern societies. “Widening Horizons” – the motto of this year’s annual meeting – stands for both what is happening and what is necessary to fulfil our social duty: the departure to new horizons!

For this EAA conference in Kiel, the Scientific Board had identified various topics to meet the task to structure the discourse on widening horizons: Seven themes were identified to guide the many contributions. “Widening horizons through human-environment interconnections” and “Pandemics and climate change: responses to global challenges” locate connectivity and transformations in the socio-environmental context of the past, which continue to be relevant in the present. We know, especially from the experiences of the last decade, how strikingly the disruption of social connectivity or the destruction of the environment becomes a danger.

The new challenges for the preservation of cultural heritage and the presentation of the past to the public are addressed in the topics on “The new normality of heritage management and museums in post-Covid times” and “Globalisation and archaeology”.

Two further themes: “Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences” and “Material culture studies and societies” discuss the extraordinary progress in archaeological methodology, which not only makes complete new archives accessible for research but above all requires new theoretical foundations to interpret the new data.

This is exemplified in the theme “From global to local: Baltic-Pontic studies”. Investigations are brought together for a part of Europe, where, since Palaeolithic times, connectivity between diverse societies and their environments have always led to significant innovations.

Kiel – as the venue of the EAA conference 2021 – stands symbolically for widening horizons by integrating natural and life sciences into archaeology, by incorporating the most diverse horizons between east, west, north and south, and by developing new research centres that build on proven examples.

Thus, here at the university, in addition to the Cluster of Excellence “ROOTS - Social, Environmental and Social Connectivities in Past Societies” and the CRS “Scales of Transformations: Human-environment Interaction in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies”, a variety of European collaborations on important challenges of contemporary society have been organised. The Centre of Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig and the World Heritage Site Haithabu form the crucial bridge to the North.

Widening horizons --- already now we can recognise various aspects that seem important for the problems of our world today. I would like to pick out just three here.

1. Isotope and aDNA analyses, which have become standard in many fields, prove for our archaeological periods that even in sedentary societies - i.e. since about 12,000 years ago - between 10-30% of the population was mobile in most cases. We can therefore modify our modern definition of sedentism: Mobilities, migrations and emigrations are part of the basic pattern of human societies. In the political dimension, this is of course a message for open borders or a world without borders. Even if this may seem illusory to some right now, problem solving requires courage. Especially from an archaeological and historical perspective, we know that crisis situations, including the current ones, offer opportunities for change here – not only for a borderless Europe, but also a world without borders.

2. In the aDNA analyses mentioned above, as in biomarker analyses, there has been an accelerated technical progress in methods. We can also observe this in the archaeological results. No less than five years ago, supra-regional migration movements were reconstructed by archaeology, seamlessly following the old “clash of cultures” narrative. An inflation of terms, such as “extinction”, “migration”, and “warfare”, set in without reflecting the numerous forms of mobility and the diversity of transformation processes. Today, this is a thing of the past. The new development of methods has led to genetic aspects, such as “admixture” or the diversity of genetic fingerprints, that are being linked with integration, diversification and the opening of networks. Here, too, we undoubtedly recognise not only the political relevance but also the dangers for the current political discussion.

3. Widening horizons from a cultural anthropological point of view, we archaeologists have taken up numerous positions in recent years on questions of identity, cultural phenomena, etc. It is precisely the placing of ethnoarchaeological perspectives in the discourse that proves how complex and changeable, how fluid identities are in archaeologically researched societies: social identity is produced by the culturally constituted human being.

One of the special features of the Kiel EAA is this year’s EAA declaration on climate change, which will hopefully be adopted at the General Assembly tomorrow.

Already, the first international archaeological climate summit with experts from Japan to California and from South Africa to Scandinavia took place on Monday under the umbrella of the EAA. The SACC summit stated, and I quote:

All previously mentioned topics – social inequality, resource management, food security, mobility, conflict – have major consequences for human health. Archaeologists have demonstrated that the circumstances surrounding competition over resources – reduced mobility, living under siege conditions, and malnutrition – also contribute to the increasing fragility of immune systems. In turn, human societies become more vulnerable to both chronic diseases and acute epidemics.

Finally, most of the prehistoric and historic studies conducted by archaeologists have shown that climate change, natural catastrophes, pandemics, etc. did not leave people helpless, but they actively and creatively tried to find solutions. Even when concerted efforts sometimes failed, gained trust in the capabilities of societies facing changes could be bolstered by archaeology.

The Kiel EAA would not have been possible without the excellent work of Angelika Hoffmann, Annalena Pfeiffer and Hendrik Raese from the local organisation team, to whom we extend our sincere thanks. Of course, it would not have been possible without the great commitment of the EAA’s Prague offices, without the cooperation of numerous colleagues on the scientific committee, and without the support of Kiel University. We would like to thank Ms Simone Fulda on behalf of the latter. It would also not have been possible without the opportunity to work so beautifully with Felipe and Eszter, who are clearly a treasure for the entire EAA.

The Kiel EAA Annual Meeting 2021 had to go virtual again, what is a pity for the local organization, the university and cross-regional, on-site participation. But at the same time, going virtual has facilitated new forms of participation and communication, which also makes the annual meeting more inclusive. The Scientific Committee had to develop a scientific program for the second-highest number of papers handed in within the history of the EAA in spite of the pandemic – from 66 countries. Thus, widening horizons is not only necessary, but possible!

*Editors’ note: This rendering is a transcript of the welcome from 8 September 2021. Similarities between it and the 2021 Kiel Statement on Archaeology and Climate Change reflect the close collaboration of J. Müller with others in the EAA Task Force which drafted the statement.

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