Arivruaich, Isle of Lewis. Photo: copyright Steve Forden, published with permission.
The 42nd Conference of the Association for Environmental Archaeology will be held on 2–4 December 2022, with an optional fieldtrip on Monday 5 December 2022
Title: The environmental archaeology of landscapes and land-use
Host institutions: University of Glasgow and University of Pennsylvania, USA (remotely)
Organisers: Nicki Whitehouse, Matt Jacobson, Gareth Beale (University of Glasgow); Xiaolin Ren (University of Glasgow and Chinese Academy of Sciences); Kathy Morrison (University of Pennsylvania)
Humans do not live in isolation from nature. In this conference, we would like to explore our changing relationships with landscapes and land-use, and consider how humans and non-humans have developed entangled and complex relationships with other beings. We are interested in the ways archaeology can enable us to examine these relationships in the past, especially when it comes to more creative ways to think about landscapes and human activities within them.
An important area where we have impacted landscapes is around changing land-use, often instigated by agricultural practices. What have the effects of these activities been on our landscapes and how have these been shaped by cultural activities and human agency? Major historical transitions, such as the start of the Neolithic, and technological advances, such as intensification of agriculture or urbanisation processes, have driven major changes in land-use. Thus, human land-use activities are known drivers of vegetation change and can also produce potentially significant levels of greenhouse gases. How can we improve our understanding of these effects from analyses of archaeological and palaeoecological records?
Finally, an additional interest is around what we can learn from approaches developed within the digital humanities, for example, in thinking about and interpreting human relationships to landscapes and places?
The conference will showcase research that explores our relationships to landscapes and land-use to consider how we have shaped our modern world and its current ecological and climate crisis. We are interested in hearing about research that investigates the environmental archaeology of landscapes and land-use studies that utilise archaeological and historical evidence, including texts, maps, images, settlement datasets, artefacts, plant and animal remains, biomolecular evidence, taking a variety of perspectives; we are also keen to welcome contributions from the digital humanities that engage with these lines of evidence as well as the broader themes of the conference.
We are looking for papers that consider:
The deadline for abstracts is now closed.
The conference will start early evening on Friday 2 December 2022, opening with a keynote lecture and followed by a wine reception at the University of Glasgow. The main conference programme will follow over 3–4 December, finishing by 4pm. There will be a conference dinner on the evening of 3 December (up to 60 participants).
On Monday 5 December there will be an optional fieldtrip to Kilmartin Glen and nearby monuments; this will be led by Dr Kenny Brophy and Dr Nicki Whitehouse, with a stop en route at Inveraray.
A livestream link for the conference is available to AEA members via the members' page. Please note, however, that there is no technical support for this system. The livestream is offered free of charge to AEA members, but the conference organisers are not able to deal with any issues related to it.
The deadline for registration has now passed.
General queries about the conference and programme can be addressed to email@example.com
A number of archaeology departments in England are under threat of closure, including the University of Hull, University of Worcester and the University of Sheffield. The University of Hull will no longer offer undergraduate courses in archaeology and at the University of Worcester teaching in archaeology will end after the current academic year. There is a petition for this decision to be reversed. See:
The archaeology department at the University of Sheffield will also cease to exist as a single entity following a decision earlier this year. The department has been instrumental in the development of environmental archaeology and this will be a huge loss to the discipline. If you would like to show your support for the staff and students at the department, please do sign the petition which is still open:
See below for the AEA's formal response to the proposed closure, and an article about Environmental Archaeology at Sheffield
The autumn event for the AEA is an Open Science Skills workshop.
It is a full-day online workshop that will run twice (both with the same content) but in two different time zones.
It is free to attend.
The dates are:
Each day will have a maximum of 30 spaces to allow for small group discussions and an environment that allows participants to ask questions freely.
The aims of the workshop are:
1. to introduce all the different aspects of open science
2. to create a friendly space to ask questions (even ones you consider silly!)
3. to have in-depth presentations about open data, open methods, open analysis and open access publishing
4. for all participants to go away with one step they can make towards more open working.
The agenda will be:
Speakers for the different presentations will be Emma Karoune (The Alan Turing Institute), Sam Leggett (University of Cambridge), Li-Ying Wang (University of Washington) and Gayoung Park (University of Washington). We are all active open researchers so we will be sharing the approaches that we use in our own work and be showing examples of what this looks like in archaeological research.
To sign up for this event please use the eventbrite links below:
There are separate links for each of the days so please select the date/time you want. You only need to sign up for one day as both days have the same content.
Friday 19 November 2021 – 9am to 5pm (GMT): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/aea-open-science-skills-workshop-tickets-167643920479
Saturday 20 November 2021 – 9am to 5pm in an Americas timezone:
The event is fully online, so hopefully this makes it as accessible as possible to all that want to attend, but if you do have any accessibility issues, please do get in touch with the organiser (details below) as there is a small amount of money for buying equipment (such as headphones) and wifi access to enable participants to attend.
Also if you have any particular accessibility requirements, such as specific captioning for talks or a certain format needed for documents to aid file reader software - please do make the organiser aware of this by email once you have signed up.
Access to resources after event:
If you aren’t available to attend on these days, all of the presentations will be recorded to be added to the AEA YouTube channel and all the resources used will be made openly available, so please look out for details of this after the dates of the workshop.
Special thanks goes to the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI), who are providing funding for this event through Emma Karoune’s Fellowship – https://www.software.ac.uk/about/fellows/emma-karoune.
If you want to find out more about SSI, please see their website: https://www.software.ac.uk/
Please email Emma Karoune (firstname.lastname@example.org), if you have any questions or if the tickets are sold out and you want to be put on the waiting list.
The Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield has been under review and, at a meeting on 19 May 2021, the university told the staff that there were three possible outcomes:
(A) support and invest in the department to ensure the future of archaeology at Sheffield
(B) discontinue archaeology as a subject at Sheffield and make all the staff redundant
(C) discontinue archaeology as a department, but retain aspects of archaeological research and education (human osteology and cultural heritage), and make remaining staff redundant.
The perception is that (A) is not the university's preferred option, which is devastating news for the whole department. The University Executive Board will be making its decision on Tuesday 25 May.
If you would like to show your support for the staff and students at the department, and add your voice to the call for messages of solidarity, the department is asking people to email:
1. the University Executive Board (UEB) email@example.com
2. the Vice chancellor (Professor Koen Lamberts) firstname.lastname@example.org
3. the Deputy Vice Chancellor email@example.com
requesting that the UEB does vote in favour of option A, based on the reputation of the department at Sheffield, and the importance of its contribution across all sectors of archaeology and osteology, at local, national and international scales. Please include firstname.lastname@example.org in your response, so that the department can keep track of the level of support.
Open Science Practices in Environmental Archaeology – programme now available, and registration now open
The rescheduled AEA Spring Conference 2021 will be taking online on Saturday 24 April 2021.
All aspects of Environmental Archaeology have a shared reliance on the creation, curation and analysis of quantitative datasets – from counts of molluscs and pollen, to isotope ratios and morphometrics. Too often, this data is hidden behind paywalls, difficult to reuse or simply not made available. This conference will discuss the current state of data in Environmental Archaeology and how open science practices can improve the reliability and reproducibility of research. Issues to be discussed include the standardisation of data recording, data sharing, data repositories, linked open data, the creation and longevity of databases and reproducible analysis (Rstats). Papers are also welcomed on any aspects of open research, including open methods, open data, open access publishing and open education across Environmental Archaeology (as broadly conceived).
The programme is now available for the AEA Spring Conference, along with a book of abstracts. They can be downloaded from below.
Registration for this event is now closed.
Please send any questions to email@example.com and follow us on twitter with #AEAOpenScience
Lisa Lodwick, Tom Maltas, Tina Roushannafas and Rubi Wu
University of Oxford
As you are aware, we had to postpone the 41st Association for Environmental Archaeology meeting to be held in Groningen, the Netherlands, to 2021. We have, however, been able to come up with a great alternative. Based on the four themes planned for the conference, we will organize four webinars, to be held in September and October 2020. Each session will have a keynote speaker (30 minutes) addressing various aspects of sustainability and environmental archaeology. This presentation will be followed by two presentations (15 minutes each) by early career researchers (ECRs), preferably PhD students in the final stages of their research.
To attend the AEA webinars registration is required. Registration is free for both AEA members and non-AEA members. Through the registration we will forward you a link a couple days ahead of each webinar that allows you to join the session.
The link for the registration is: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScWHef9_kQEao_xVLLVVL2O5BzRPPZPHjdR44--oUEcE9tA5g/viewform
The full program is available to download below, along with biographies of the keynote speakers.
The goal of this conference is to address sustainability in the field of environmental archaeology. Sustainability is a key issue in societal, political and scientific debate. The pressing need to create a more sustainable future is reflected in the United Nations (UN)’ ‘urgent call to action’ detailed in 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/). This raises the question of how the issue of ‘sustainability’ is or should be incorporated into archaeological research, practice and discourse.
The 17 goals and the concept of ‘sustainability’ will be central to the 2020 AEA webinars. They are addressed and explored through four themes: ‘Sustainability of the Profession’, 'Sustainability in the Past’, ‘Sustainability and the Environment’ and ‘Social Sustainability’. Through these themes the webinars will revolve around the concept ‘sustainable environmental archaeology’, exploring it from different perspectives and topics.
The 41st AEA Organization Team (Nathalie Brusgaard, Canan Çakirlar, Merit Hondelink, Youri van den Hurk, Arnoud Maurer, Mans Schepers, Taravat Talebi Seyyedsaran, and Francesca Slim)
Session 1: Sustainability of the Profession
Environmental archaeology as a discipline is in constant motion. New methods, practices, and research ideas are constantly being developed and excavations revealing new information regarding the past. It may be argued, however, that the discipline of archaeology itself is struggling with several sustainability issues. New methods often require destructive sampling, exhausting available resources. Furthermore, the sustainability of archaeology as a profession is affected by aspects such as the number of students taking a degree course in archaeology, limited financial sources, and fast-paced advancements made in scientific methods. This justifies the need for archaeology to continuously develop new methods, carry out outreach activities, engage in new partnerships with various fields, and improve heritage management. This all contributes to the potential impact of environmental archaeology on our understanding of a sustainable environment.
Session 2: Sustainability in the Past
Sustainability is not only a topic of concern for societies today. In the past, communities were also challenged by issues such as climate fluctuations, environmental and landscape change, and the cultivation and maintenance of healthy, sustainable human, animal, and plant populations. The archaeological record can inform us on how people dealt with these issues and what it reflects about the interactions between humans and their living and non-living environment. This may be visible and studied at different scales, from local hunter-gatherer communities that practiced selective hunting and foraging strategies to long duréé changes in the landscape due to human intervention and their socio-economic practices. Reflecting on sustainability in the past can contribute to both a broader understanding of the past and new perspectives on the future.
Session 3: Sustainability and the Environment
Throughout history, humans have been exploiting a wide variety of environmental resources and have been niche-constructing both the biotic and the abiotic environments. This impact on our surroundings has in some instances led to environmental degradation, climate change, and the introduction, endangerment, alternation, extirpation, or even extinction of animal and plant species. Environmental archaeology offers the possibility to assess the status of environmental factors in the past, and can provide modern sustainability studies and approaches with a baseline or data that can benefit attempts to protect our environment.
Session 4: Social Sustainability
Social archaeology examines the social dimensions of human life in the past through the interpretation of archaeological remains, informing us about expressions of ethnicity, race, age, status, class, and gender. It provides insights into the social sustainability of past societies. Through, for example, the investigation of the unequal distribution of power, wealth, and resources, social archaeology can reveal patterns regarding social practices and how communities and societies were shaped and developed through time. Interpretations of the past are also influenced by social issues in the present. Increasingly, archaeological studies advocate for more agency for groups traditionally under-represented in research. Here environmental archaeology also plays an important role in lending more agency to non-human species, for example in social zooarchaeological and multi-special approaches.