AAA Conference, Wollongong

By Antoinette Hennessy


The Australian Archaeological Association (AAA) held their annual conference in Wollongong, NSW, in December 2012. The number of Flinders students and ArchSoc members added to the many hundreds of delegates from around the country – even around the world – who attended and contributed to the discussions of the underlying theme of the year: “Science and Archaeology”.

For those with a particular keenness for scientific method and approach to archaeology, AAA2012 was THE conference. Talks from dating to isotopic analysis rocked the figurative socks off the scientifically inclined, but unfortunately the tight schedule of the conference often hindered the opportunity for question and discussion time in a formal space. Fortunately, the numerous social events compensated for that. And for those who were content with sitting and listening, they would have been amused by the academic debate that often sprouted from the audience and open up a new door to discussion and theory.

The Novotel Hotel’s lobby, deck and rooms swarmed with students, academics and scholars of different professions, most of whom (of course) were archaeologists. The week was just as packed with seminars, workshops and events following each day, providing the perfect balance of business and pleasure. For the students in particular, finishing or yet to finish their degrees, these seminars and workshops gave vital information and opportunity to further themselves in their careers. The CV workshop and “Meet the Graduates” night were arguably the best for this.

Everyday had a different highlight, one being the poster competition. Open to all, the regular poster competition offered entrants to share their own research in a casual environment with their fellow delegates. ArchSoc, in fact, represented by Jordan Ralph, Nessa Beasley, Rhiannon Agutter and myself, provided a detailed discussion on the benefits of student groups using ArchSoc as a case study. Another highlight was the formal dinner marking the end of the conference. The week was wrapped up neatly in a night of food, drink, laughs, and Gangnam Style.

Thanks goes to Dr Richard Fullagar for organising this great event, and to the Centre of Archaeological Science (CAS) of Wollongong University for hosting the hundreds of delegates who will no doubt continue their attendance to future conferences.

Conferences, News

Flinders students part of team to win first International Student Ethics Debate at WAC-7

By Rhiannon Agutter


Recently I was fortunate enough to participate in the first World Archaeological Congress Student Ethics Debate held at WAC-7 on the Dead Sea, Jordan.  The Ethics Debate provided an excellent opportunity to meet and interact with a variety of students from all over the world and discuss different approaches to common archaeological ethical dilemmas. Teams in the debate were provided with a number of hypothetical situations which could easily exist in real life and for each scenario we were required to discuss how the situation should be dealt with, how it might have been avoided and what ethical and legislative framework surrounds the problem.

Despite some initial scheduling clashes between the debates and the other obligations of student volunteers in the end four teams of four or more people of mixed backgrounds battled it out in three very successful sessions. Each and every participant showed tremendous enthusiasm and brought a diverse range of views and experiences to the table which made for an interesting and engaging debate. I was incredibly surprised to find that in the grand final both teams had such different approaches to the two scenarios presented, revealing just how subjective ethics can be.

Team 8, of myself and Karen Martin-Stone from Flinders University; Vicky Roca from Argentina; Irene Esteban from the University of Barcelona, Spain; Banani Bhattacharyya from the University of Calcutta, India; and Ruman Banerjee from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom eventually took out the title after facing some incredibly tough competition, including a team in the semi-finals which literally formed minutes before the debate began but which still came out with some incredibly convincing and engaging solutions to the ethical issues.

Overall the WAC-7 Student Ethics Debate was a fantastic event and I would highly recommend students to become involved in similar events held in the future, perhaps at WAC-8, Kyoto. Through participating in the debate I had the opportunity to learn from both from my peers and through the excellent feedback supplied by the judges; gain a better understanding of how best to approach similar problems in the real world; and meet a range of awesome people from all over the world. It was a thoroughly worthwhile event and I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for any future ethics debates. Congratulations to all the participants and a big thank you to all the organisers, judges and sponsors.

Team 8, winners of the WAC-7 International Student Ethics Debate. L-R: Ruman Banerjee, Banani Bhattacharyya, Irene Estaban, Karen Martin-Stone, Rhiannon Agutter and Victoria Roca (photograph: courtesy of Karen Martin-Stone 18/01/2013).
Team 8, winners of the WAC-7 International Student Ethics Debate. L-R: Ruman Banerjee, Banani Bhattacharyya, Irene Estaban, Karen Martin-Stone, Rhiannon Agutter and Victoria Roca (photograph: courtesy of Karen Martin-Stone 18/01/2013).

ArchSoc in the Middle East: Flinders volunteers at WAC-7, Jordan

Jordan Ralph and Andrew Wilkinson


The Seventh World Archaeological Congress was held in the Middle East recently to great success. Around 900 delegates attended this international meeting in Jordan, 400 of which were sponsored by the WAC organisation itself. In addition to those that were physically present, another 600 had digital access to the presentations due to the ArchSoc/WAC initiative: WAC-7 Online. Two hundred people were granted sponsored access to WAC-7 Online from the funds raised through the Pozible crowd-funding initiative, which achieved over AU$17,000.

Pre-conference meeting with the WAC Student Committee volunteers
Pre-conference meeting with the WAC Student Committee volunteers

The Flinders Archaeological Society played a major role in the running of the conference, as well as pre- and post-conference planning, organisation and logistics. The 25 Flinders Archaeology and Flinders ArchSoc volunteers worked side-by-side with the volunteers from the WAC Student Committee and Jordanian students. This volunteer work, while stressful to say the least, allowed many of us to forge new friendships and become a greater, global family of archaeology students. On a personal note, we want to thank the volunteers from Flinders. Without them (armed with their bright red ArchSoc/WAC-7 t-shirts), the conference would not have run so smoothly.

ArchSoc volunteers at the WAC-7 Party. (L-R) Ele Jenkins, Susan Arthure, Janine McEgan, Andrew Wilkinson, Sarah Hutchinson, Jordan Ralph, Clare Leevers, Joshua Brown, Amy Butcher, Maja Marciniak, Jessica Lumb and Taylor Antisdel.
ArchSoc volunteers at the WAC-7 Party. (L-R) Ele Jenkins, Susan Arthure, Janine McEgan, Andrew Wilkinson, Sarah Hutchinson, Jordan Ralph, Clare Leevers, Joshua Brown, Amy Butcher, Maja Marciniak, Jessica Lumb and Taylor Antisdel.

Of course there are many stories to come out of WAC-7, so we won’t relay them here. Instead, to highlight the intensity and camaraderie of the work the team did, it must be said that we worked around the clock. We were meeting people at the airport with our fellow volunteers 24 hours a day for the three days before the conference. We had people that refused to sleep because more work had to be done and there were others that refused to stop working because some had not slept in 39 hours. Collectively we would have only seen a handful of conference papers and not much sleep every night, but no one was bitter; it didn’t matter, there was work to be done and we all had a great time!

Driving up and down Mt. Nebo
Driving up and down Mt. Nebo

There is something about Flinders Archaeology that, from our point of view, no other university has; its students are part of a community that is family-like in many ways and they unite to solve problems and sacrifice their own needs and wishes without complaint to ensure tasks are carried out properly and efficiently. We get the job done. There is no doubt that the Flinders Archaeological Society plays a major role in this phenomenon, and the work that we do epitomises what ArchSoc is all about.

ArchSoc and WAC Student Committee volunteers at the Gala Dinner
ArchSoc and WAC Student Committee volunteers at the Gala Dinner

Finally, a huge thank you to the Flinders Archaeology/Flinders ArchSoc volunteers:

Rhiannon Agutter

Susan Arthure

Ryan Baruwei

Joshua Brown

Amy Butcher

Michael Diplock

Sarah Hutchinson

Andrew Jackson

Gary Jackson

Eleanor Jenkins

Clare Leevers

Gareth Lewis

Kylie Lower

Jessica Lumb

Karen Martin-Stone

Janine McEgan

Kellie Pollard

Jordan Ralph

Asher Rooney

Chanmakara Sun

Trevor Tisdall

Andrew Wilkinson

Jasmine Willika

A special thank you must go to Neale Draper and Australian Cultural Heritage Management for helping us get to the conference.


WAC-7 volunteers and members of the WAC council
WAC-7 volunteers and members of the WAC council

Getting WAC-7 Online

Over the last few weeks the Flinders ArchSoc (particularly Asher Rooney, one of our members) has put together a short film that seeks to raise funds to make WAC-7 available online to those that cannot make it to Jordan in January. You can watch the video and find more information about this project here:
Since this project was first announced by WAC President, Claire Smith three days ago we have received A$660 worth of pledges. For this project to be funded, we need A$15,000 in the next 36 days. We still have a long way to go, but it is definitely not out of our reach!
This is a request to those of us (individuals and organisations) that can afford to donate to this project. Aside from the personal rewards you will recieve for donating, you will help make it possible for the wider archaeological community to obtain access to WAC-7 online for a maximum of $100 for individuals, or $200 for organisations. The respective rates for students, Indigenous people and people from low-income countries will be $50 for individuals and $100 for institutions. These prices will decrease if we reach the second target of A$50,000.
If you, your company or educational institution has the ability to donate, then please do. Every donation helps, however large or small. Let’s make WAC-7 available online! Jump in!
Thank you to those that have already supported this project and thanks in advance to those that will.