Long description of themes

1. Theories and methods in archaeology

During the last few decades, scientific techniques and methods borrowed from other disciplines have provided new forms of data and improved way of analysing archaeological data. The use of digital technologies, new techniques for paleogenetics, developments in dating methods and the application of many new non-destructive methods of recording and analyses have provided far more accuracy in our approach to the study of archaeological sites and material culture. However, more reflection is still needed regarding the integration of this new data in our interpretations and narratives. Likewise, novel discussions within the fields of philosophy and the social sciences are providing new frameworks for the study of archaeology and heritage and are stimulating modern archaeological debate. Sessions will focus on: how contemporary debates may shape the future of archaeology; the application of new theoretical or ontological perspectives to material culture; the expansion and development of existing theoretical debates; the potential of new scientific techniques and new methodologies in archaeological interpretation; and the integration of scientific and technological approaches with theory. Finally, sessions on the contribution of archaeology to debates such as population mobility, climate change, diversity and sustainability will also be included in this theme.

2. The archaeology of material culture, bodies and landscapes

To many archaeologists, the social interpretation of material culture and the archaeological record continues to be the defining and ultimate purpose of their work. Sessions and papers addressing this theme are invited to debate on this theme in its broadest sense, including the interpretation of people’s tangible and intangible worlds in the past. Sessions will provide reflection on the social and spatial aspects of archaeological sites and archaeological landscapes and incorporate themes related to subsistence and economy, politics, social behaviour and ideology. The broad scope of the theme also applies to chronology, covering the timespan that ranges from early human evolution through to contemporary archaeology. Sessions may focus on archaeological interpretation linked to, or related to a wide range of theoretical concepts including (but not limited to) technological knowledge, gender, transmission, networks, social and cultural contact, mobility, colonisation, landscapes, soundscapes, wetlands, gardens, ritual, body, myth and even rubbish. Sessions covering related topics in which over broad perspectives are examined are particularly encouraged. Theoretical considerations on tangible and intangible culture and the archaeological record are also welcome.

3. Mediterranean seascapes

The Mediterranean Sea has been historically a seaway connecting the North and the South, Orient and Occident. The crossroads of cultures over millennia, it has shaped the character, composition, languages and cultural traditions of Mediterranean societies. The modern seascapes are, thereby, the result of this historical interaction.

Sessions are invited to explore Trans-Mediterranean relations from a variety of different perspectives and types of evidence: the nature of coastal settlements, population, ports, ship and boats, trade and the circulation of goods. Theoretical debates are encouraged dealing with: identity, mobility, migration, navigation and colonization as well as case studies from all periods and all Mediterranean regions in Europe, Africa and Asia are welcome. A focus of discussion will also be how these Mediterranean communities influenced each other in the past, and sessions may also examine the influence of Mediterranean ecosystems on daily life, subsistence and society in the past.

4. Archaeology and the future of cities and urban landscapes

In today’s Europe 72.5% of its citizens live in cities. Archaeological heritage is increasingly becoming a key element of urban sustainability. This theme will provide the framework for discussion on the role of archaeological heritage in relation to contemporary challenges such as population growth, urbanization, unequal access to socio-economic opportunities, the increasing trend of urban gentrification, degradation and the impact mass tourism. In the framework established by the UN´s 2030 Agenda and Goals for Sustainable Development, debates may consider the place for archaeology in a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. In today’s globalised world it is vital to reflect on how archaeology may assist in strengthening universal peace and freedom and ensure sustainable development by contributing to the eradication of poverty. Other topics for deliberation in sessions under this theme may include the impact of climate change in archaeological urban heritage and the inherent potential of well-managed heritage for reducing disaster risks. Sessions may also examine current experiences of bottom-up and stakeholder and citizen participation in heritage policy formulation, management and preventive conservation. The potential of archaeology for integration of immigrant populations in urban landscapes deserves critical attention and will hopefully be at the centre of debates linked to this theme. Finally, sessions may be organised to assess possible strategies for managing both the challenges and opportunities created by the global expansion of tourism and tourism-related industries.

5. Archaeology and the European Year of Cultural Heritage

2018 has been declared the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH). The EYCHaims to highlight the social and educational value of heritage, its contribution to jobs and growth, and its role in raising the profile of the EU in the world. Sessions and round tables within this theme will debate on any or a combination of the specific objectives of the European Year:

  • (a) encourage approaches to cultural heritage that are people-centred, inclusive, forward-looking, more integrated, sustainable and cross-sectoral;
  • (b) promote innovative models of participatory governance and management of cultural heritage, involving all stakeholders, including public authorities, the cultural heritage sector, private actors and civil society organisations;
  • (c) promote debate, research and the exchange of good practices on the quality of conservation, safeguarding, innovative reuse and enhancement of cultural heritage, and on contemporary interventions in the historical environment;
  • (d) promote solutions which make cultural heritage accessible to all, including via digital means, by removing social, cultural and physical barriers, taking into account people with special needs;
  • (e) highlight and enhance the positive contribution of cultural heritage to society and the economy through research and innovation, including by strengthening the evidence base for such a contribution at Union level;
  • (f) encourage synergies between cultural heritage and environment policies by integrating cultural heritage into environmental, architectural and planning policies, and by promoting energy-efficiency
  • (g) encourage regional and local development strategies that tap into the potential of cultural heritage, including through the promotion of sustainable tourism;
  • (h) support the development of specialised skills and improve knowledge management and knowledge transfer in the cultural heritage sector, taking into account the implications of the digital shift;
  • (i) promote cultural heritage as a source of inspiration for contemporary creation and innovation, and highlight the potential for cross-fertilisation and stronger interaction between the cultural heritage sector and other cultural and creative sectors;
  • (j) raise awareness of the importance of Europe's cultural heritage through education and lifelong learning, in particular by focusing on children, young and elderly people, local communities and hard-to-reach groups;
  • (k) highlight the potential of cooperation in matters of cultural heritage for developing stronger ties within the Union and with countries outside the Union and for encouraging intercultural dialogue, post-conflict reconciliation and conflict prevention;
  • (l) promote research and innovation in relation to cultural heritage, facilitate the uptake and exploitation of research results by all stakeholders, in particular public authorities and the private sector, and facilitate the dissemination of research results to a broader audience;
  • (m) encourage synergies between the Union and the Member States, including by strengthening initiatives to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural goods; and
  • (n) highlight, during 2018, significant events that have a symbolic importance for Europe's history and cultural heritage.

6. Museums and challenges of archaeological outreach in the 21st century

Archaeology in museums is a theme that Barcelona, a city of many museums, does not want to leave aside. It is the first time a full conference theme on the topic of museums has been proposed for a meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. It is a welcome opportunity to assess the current situation of archaeological and related museums in Europe. This is an important step that will identify specific museum-related topics that need to be discussed in depth in the context of European archaeology and beyond. Sessions should bring together archaeological museums, archaeologists, heritage managers and museum professionals all over Europe. Debate among all these sectors will provide a basis for sharing experiences, discussing issues and problems and establishing relationship and potential collaborations. Topics may include:
  • (a) Museums as a form of public engagement. It is more formalized than the public outreach and it is advised that similarities and differences between these two forms are discussed and analysed.
  • (b)The major attractions of museums: the role of hands on experience, how best the public can achieve experience of the materiality of the past.
  • (c) The role of electronic media and digital formats of presentation in museums and engaging with the heritage. Used in tandem with other electronic forms of public engagement, what is their added value of museums? How have museums responded to the visual revolution?  How can museums incorporate virtuality in spreading their message and achieving their mission in the 21st century, as well as enhancing visitor experience and accessibility?
  • (d) The challenges of the educational process in museums, in particular in relation to other forms of extramural and vocational training in the domain of archaeology and archaeological heritage.
  • (e) The future of archaeological museums and their role within contemporary society (1). How visible are archaeological museums within their communities? How visible is archaeology in museums (e.g., history museums)? How do / can archaeological museums boost the local, regional and national economy? What marketing strategies do or should archaeological museums develop?
  • (f) The future of archaeological museums and their role within contemporary society (2). How can museums contribute to the social integration of recently arrived immigrants through archaeological heritage? What is the role of museums in a globalized and culturally diverse Europe?
  • (g) Potential synergies between other types of institutions and archaeological museums regarding education and outreach.
  • (h) Achieving a balance between conservation, research and documentation in museums and the generation of new narratives that concern the increasingly diverse populations in our cities?