Three thousand archaeology departments, museums and cultural institutions around the world will be getting their invitations to the Seventh World Archaeology Congress (WAC-7) thanks to a group of students at Flinders University.
Archaeology students Janine McEgan, Sarah Hutchinson and Susan Arthure (pictured, from left) and Trevor Tisdall devoted three weeks to compiling a database of addresses, and were joined by another 10 student volunteers for the exercise of preparing the mail-out of the conference poster.
Flinders archaeologist Professor Claire Smith, who is President of the World Archaeological Congress, said that spreading the cost of the conference organisation among the wealthier member nations, including Australia, Germany and the US, made it possible to assist delegates from poorer nations to attend.
“WAC is dedicated to redressing global economic inequities in archaeology,” Professor Smith said, “The volunteer work done by Flinders students will increase global participation in the conference but also allow us to direct more funds to students and scholars from low-income countries.’
Among the topics under discussion at WAC-7 will be the challenge of protecting archaeological heritage during times of crisis and war, particularly in the Middle East. Professor Smith said that while the situation in Iran has stabilised, ancient archaeological sites and relics in Syria were now under threat.
About 10 Flinders students will attend the conference in Jordan, which is to be held next January. They will each receive a $500 scholarship from Australian Cultural Heritage Management, which also supported the mail-out.
Student Clare Leevers said the conference offered a chance to connect with the discipline on an international level.
“We’ll get to meet other people who share our passion, and it’s a great opportunity to experience archaeology on a much broader scale as well as a wider range of issues,” she said.
Paying tribute to the volunteers, Professor Smith said that Flinders had “without question” the strongest and most active student archaeological society in Australia. She also thanked the staff of Flinders Press for their work in printing the conference poster, which was designed in the US.