November 9, 2015
The Washington DC Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and the University of Maryland Department of Classics, with the support of a generous Society Outreach Grant from the AIA, celebrated International Archaeology Day on October 17th with an unusual event at the University of Maryland for students, professionals and members of the public. The session was organized as an informal discussion of timely issues in the field of cultural heritage today. Not necessarily ripped from the headlines, but certainly much in the news, scenarios were provided and the participants were asked to consider aspects like the repatriation of valuable artifacts to countries where extremists are engaged in campaigns of large scale destruction, the fate of cultural heritage in unstable regions around the world, looting in places where there is rampant poverty and unemployment, the ethics of the antiquities market and the balance between preservation and much needed economic development.
After a brief introduction by a panel of professionals in the field, groups assembled at roundtables for what proved to be a lively debate. Interest in the issues was so intense, especially on the part of students, that they failed to notice the promised pizza delivery. Breaking only to grab a few slices, they returned to their tables to continue to explore the many permutations of saving cultural heritage in an unstable world. The roundtable wrap-up session went into overtime as people shared their questions, concerns and ideas. A quick survey of the participants answered the question posed in the title of the event, for it was clear that everyone there, no matter what field they were in, knew why they cared.International Archaeology Day Blog