AIAC and why (printed) conference proceedings should be a thing of the past

AIAC has recently issued the call for papers to the 17th International Congress of Classical Archaeology to be held in Rome 22-26 September 2008 with the theme of “Meetings of Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean”. I’m planning to attend as part of a session organized by our late antiquity centre here in Aarhus.

The proceedings from the 2003 conference (in Boston) have also recently appeared: “Common Ground: Archaeology, Art, Science, and the Humanities“. It’s a chunky volume of some 640 pages and comes with a 85 quid price tag. It has taken 3 years for these proceedings to appear, which is – all things considered – not too bad. However, the proceedings are really little more than a glorified abstracts book. The longest papers are 4-5 pages (including illustrations), while the shortest are less than half a page. And indeed the publication would make sense if it had been an abstracts book available at the conference, so colleagues and potential collaborators could see what other archaeologists across the globe were working with. But then again, the volume didn’t appear until 3 years after the conference when most of the projects would already have been completed or published. On top of that, the book comes at a price that will be too hefty for many libraries, especially considering the lack of focus provided by the title. Why this was not published as an online book is beyond me.

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