As I type, it is lunch time. One thousand delegates are thronging around the coffee and sandwich tables. Suddenly, into the crowd emerge two archaeo-blokes (sandals mandatory) carrying a 5 foot-long curving metal object. One of them is blowing enthusiastically, and continuously, down the back end of the metal object. The crowd is stunned. How to describe the resultant sound? Let me think. Ah yes, the opening of Beethoven’s Vth. On a fog horn.
The two stop only to announce that they are hosting a lunch time session. It will commence in 15 minutes. The topic? Prehistoric instruments and music. Yes, really. And there was me thinking we hadn’t a clue about prehistoric music, amd certainly no idea what it really sounded like. Well, we don’t, but that’s likely the theme of their innovative session.
Hark! Thar he blows again. “10 minutes until our session, please come, BUAAAARPPP BAAP BUP”…
Should I attend? Or should I, instead, go to see the experimental flint-knapping currently in mid-bash on the front courtyard? Or should I go and take a look at the lady by the entrance, with her collection of animal skins, prepared according to ancient lore?
Or should I do all three? Point is, there are at least 20 things going on at any one time at the WAC Olympics.
As for lectures, there are three sessions per day. Early bird lectures start at a mildly horrifying 8.30am; the middle session at a more civilised 11am, and then the afternoon session starts in the mid afternoon (to allow for the lunch-time prehistoric music, flint knapping and the like) and continues until 6pm. One can dip in and out, for within each of these blocks are parallel sessions on a myriad of topics.
All lectures aim to be cutting edge and outline latest thinking on a certain topic, whether on Wetland Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, or the Archaeology of slaves (or Archaeologies of Slaves, this being post-modernist WACish).
Today I opted for the session on “Archaeology as Entertainment”, as editor of CWA, this seemed an appropriate use of my time. Among the issues addressed were such topics as: can conflict (war) archaeology be entertainment? How do cartoons play a role in archaeology? And, won’t you hear about our work databasing every known feature film on archaeology? The discussions are often as useful and certainly as interesting as the talks.
This was also clearly apparent in the session on the future of Palestinian archaeology, that I attended yesterday. Here, the archaeologists spoke of their challenges working in Palestine and Israel. And most devastatingly, on the impact of the Israeli separation wall, which has affected over 2800 archaeological sites.
So from the horrors of modern political issues, to the audio-bullies of prehistoric music, WAC is proving to be as dynamic, challenging, entertaining, and fertile as ever.
As for Dublin? Yes, it’s a bit damp. But evenings have passed with plenty of that famed Dublin craik. Yesterday saw WAC’s massive delegates’ evening party at the fabulous setting of the old hospital in central Dublin. This was the perfect opportunity to meet scores of old friends (who suddenly seemed to come out of the woodwork) and make many new ones. The conversation was flowing, as were the drinks. Lisa and I now have LOTS of stories, and not just for the magazine.