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Conference Overview 2010/2011

Jodi Reeves Flores (UK)

A wide range of conferences on experimental archaeology and open air museums took place in 2010 and 2011, both in Europe and the Americas. This brief summary is based on the conference reviews from our contributors which can all be accessed freely on EXARC JOURNAL website from early 2012 on.


EXARC held its General Meeting in Cardiff, Wales, UK 5-7 March 2010. Participants were able to visit St. Fagans, the national Welsh open-air museum. Following on that, participants presented current work, and discussed fostering relationships between open-air museums, experimental archaeology centres, and universities.

Also in Wales, the Egypt Centre and the Department of History at the University of Wales, Swansea hosted a conference 10 May 2010 titled: Experiment and Experience: Ancient Egypt in the Present. In addition to conventional papers, many participants included demonstrations. The conference was also streamed live online, making it available to a wide audience.

The Historical Metallurgy Society’s Annual Conference was held in England, UK, 2-3 September 2010, and was entitled Accidental and Experimental Archaeometallurgy. Presentations on iron production and theoretical models were given on Thursday morning and non-ferrous metallurgy on Friday afternoon, while experimental workshops took place Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

The Textile Forum 2010 was held in Italy from 6-12 September at ArcheoParc Schnalstal, a museum focused on recreating elements related to Ötzi the Iceman. The theme this year was the question: What defines a textile? The participants were able to take part both in lectures and workshops.

EXAR held their yearly conference at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany in 8-10 October 2010 entitled Experimental Archaeology and University.

The symposium Reconstructing ideas and actions: Actualistic Studies and Experimental Approaches to Archaeology, took place at the 17th National Archaeological Congress in Argentina, 11-15 October 2010. The goal was to address new developments in diverse geographic areas and research topics in a single meeting.

Also in the Americas, the first annual Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology (RE-ARC) conference was held at the Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia, North Carolina, USA in 16-17 October 2010. The conference helped to gauge the interest level of Experimental Archaeology and Reconstruction in the US. Besides the first review, a second, more extensive review gives another perspective.

The 2010 international symposium of the Austrian Society for Prehistory and Early History (ÖGUF) took place 27-30 October 2010 at The Museum for Natural History in Vienna, Austria; and focused on the theme of Experimental archaeology: theory, practice, science, education. It attracted well over 230 people from nine countries: a great success!


2011 began with the 5th Experimental Archaeology Conference in the UK, held at the University of Reading on the 8-9 of January. A variety of papers were given over the two days, several of which focused on taphonomic processes. A series of workshops were also held the afternoon of second day, allowing participants to develop discussions and learn more about the mechanical and recording aspects of flintknapping experiments, mircomorphology, plant related experiments and metallurgy.

The 17th EXARC Meeting was held 10-12 March 2011, in conjunction with the 6th International Archaeology Meeting of Calafell, in Calafell, Catalonia, Spain. The meeting was entitled Interpretation spaces for archaeological heritage: discussions about in situ reconstructions. Participation included several colleagues from America.

Recent years have shown an upsurge of activities related to experimental archaeology in Norway. The time was therefore ripe to arrange a meeting and there was talk of forming a formal network for experimental archaeology in Norway. Twenty participants gathered at Hringariki museum at Hønefoss in Eastern Norway on 7 May 2011.

In Paks, Hungary, 9-11 June 2011, the Danube Limes International Conference took place themed with Lussonium, a prospective archeological park in Paks. This conference brought some people together who were specialised in Roman archaeological open-air museums.

Simultaneously, in Krosno, Poland the Subcarpathian Museum organised an international conference on archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology as a chance for tourism development. This event marked the opening of the archaeological open-air museum at Carpathian Troy Archaeological Open-Air Museum in Trzcinica.

June 29 – July 1 2011, at the Bergbaumuseum in Bochum, Germany a conference took place for all metal enthusiasts about archaeometallurgy in Europe. It was a fine convention of people from all over the continent.

The 3rd International workshop on Experimental Archaeology in the Ukraine was organised by our colleagues from Kyiv University, 12-15 August 2011. Proceedings of their previous conference will soon be reviewed in the EXARC Journal.

In Moldavia, 8-15 September a workshop took place by the name Arheologie Experimentala la Tohatin de Jos. It was a practical training for students into Experimental Archaeology. The activities were used to set up a Prehistoric archaeological open-air museum near Chisinau.

At UCD in Dublin, 23 September a day conference took place Experimental Archaeology in Northwest Europe: Principles and Potential. The University College is planning on becoming more active in experimental archaeology and if they follow the spirit of this conference, they will be pretty successful.

OpenArch, an EU project with 11 partners, organised a meeting jointly with Zeitgeist and EXARC in Borger, the Netherlands 3-7 October on Bringing archaeology to life - New ways to reach the public. About 100 participants saw iPhones, Facebook and much more.

In the week of 13-19 October there were three international experimental conferences, one in Schleswig Germany (EXAR) with over 130 participants, most of which was in German. There were many interesting papers, some of which from Denmark. Also an excursion was made to see several experimental highlights around the German-Danish border.

Another conference took place in Gastonia (USA) again by RE-ARC, in English. This was the 2nd RE-ARC conference and included a round table discussion on teaching experimental archaeology at academic level.

The third conference in the same week was organised in Banyoles (Catalonia, Spain) by the Spanish association Experimenta, most of which was in Spanish. The Banyoles conference attracted about 130 people who listened to almost 50 papers in only three days, combined with a visit to the archaeological open-air museum la Draga and an iron smelting demonstration in the middle of the city.

The presence of over 20 conventions or conferences over the past two years show that there is much life in experimental archaeology.
Some meetings are more formal, others more hands-on. EXARC will continue presenting summaries of the results of these sessions on our website as well as reviews or published proceedings.