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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

2015 CIFA Conference begins today

Sponsored by Towergate, the CIFA Conference begins today. 

400 archaeological professionals and early career entrants, all looking to develop their knowledge on policy and practice issues, and enhance their skills.  If like me, you’re not there yet, I guess, you won’t be going! 

Big focus on the potential divisions between community and professional archaeology – seem to remember discussing this back in the late 1980’s.  The ‘delicate relationship' between the professional and the amateur. In the words of Hayley Roberts of Bournemouth University, “The Profession has taken a shine to standards and regulations whilst Community Archaeology has eloped with the Heritage Lottery Fund and is increasingly attracted to wellbeing.”  [I'm not quite sure what the 'wellbeing' bit means].

I know that professional archaeologists have believed for a long time that the activity of archaeology should be theirs and theirs alone to manage and distribute as they see fit.  And I get that – professional archaeologists need to make a living and people generally need to view the activities of archaeologists as professional, with standards and with financial implications.  However, the armies of retired, financially stable, educated and experienced individuals now living amongst us – many of whom have ‘done their family tree’, joined / set up a local history society, become interested in learning more about what is beneath their feet – is a resource which should not be seen as annoying or interfering – and should not be annoying or interfering!

Sneering at projects and their instigators just because they are Heritage Lottery funded?  I am not surprised that it goes on, but I am disappointed!

Brighten up your day with a look at Digventures ( – “a social business at the forefront of culture, technology and entrepreneurship, committed to raising seed capital and increasing participation for sustainable archaeology and heritage projects worldwide.

Our innovative model works to connect heritage sector managers and archaeologists with a worldwide crowd of interested and actively engaged participants, creating a platform for the public to financially support interesting projects as well as to join in, learn new skills and contribute to internationally important research. As an Institute for Archaeologists Registered Organisation and the first-ever IfA Accredited Field School, our work and opportunities are quality-assured at the top of the industry standard.

Over the last two years we have raised over £65K in seed funding from a globally networked crowd of supporters – money that has gone on to leverage four times that amount for our project partners in match funding. Our motto – archaeology in your hands – is what joins the dots between our many different projects.”

Great news! Hopefully the larger archaeological businesses are taking note and seeing that their very existence could depend upon full community involvement - helping the community groups by providing advice, resource, pre-excavation, during excavation and post-excavation.  After all, I doubt there is a professional archaeologists anywhere on a payroll who entered the arena for reasons other than the discovery, recording, preserving and promoting or our heritage – though with the proviso that they are entitled to decent pay and working conditions.

What else of the conference?  Great to see so many students giving papers and taking part.  Shows that at least the ‘academic’ / ‘professional’ relationship appears to be strong.  There are some great sounding papers about specific projects, new techniques, applying better old techniques. 

Perhaps I’ll stop now, but if you’re not there, and not going, have a look at the programme at:

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