January 1, 2016

Dispatches from the AIA – January 2016

Writing Linear B on clay tablets in Tennessee (AIA East Tennessee Society)

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International Archaeology Day Celebration Largest to Date

International Archaeology Day (IAD) continues its rapid growth as a global celebration of archaeology. October 17, 2015, the fifth anniversary of the program, featured more than 500 events organized by more than 400 Collaborating Organizations in 27 countries. Preliminary estimates indicate that more than 100,000 people participated in these events—almost seven times as many people as participated in the first celebration in 2011. The number of Collaborating Organizations increased from 14 to more than 400 between 2011 and 2015, and the number of participating countries from three to 27 during that same period. The popularity and phenomenal growth of IAD is a testament to the worldwide interest in archaeology and archaeological discovery.

From an Archaeology Fair in Belmopan, Belize, to a walking tour of Chinatown in Walla Walla, Washington, IAD’s diversity of events ensures that there is something for everyone, no matter what their age or level of interest. For participants, IAD events offer the opportunity to engage with archaeology and archaeologists on a personal and local level. For Collaborating Organizations, the celebration is an opportunity to showcase the work they do and the resources they create and provide. For the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), the program is an opportunity to highlight global archaeology and advance its mission of informing the public. A website, events calendar, and blog keep millions of people around the world apprised of IAD events and news.

Since 2014, the AIA’s efforts have been aided by the support and sponsorship of the U.S. National Park Service and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Sanctuaries program. Their support ensures that IAD activities celebrating archaeological discoveries and educating the public about the importance of preserving and protecting cultural heritage are accessible to more and more people every year.

The AIA is now looking forward to next year and an even richer and expanded program of IAD events. To read more about International Archaeology Day and how you can join in next year’s celebrations, please visit archaeologyday.org. There, you will find a list of Collaborating Organizations and IAD events near you.

4,500-Year-Old Pyramids Outlast the Competition in ArchaeoMadness

After several days of intense competition, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt emerged as the 2015 ArchaeoMadness champion! The iconic pyramids beat out 31 other sites including the Colosseum, Olduvai Gorge, Copán, and the Taj Mahal. ArchaeoMadness, a bracket-style competition similar to college basketball’s March Madness, was introduced in 2014 as a way for people around the world to participate in the excitement of International Archaeology Day. Thirty-two archaeological sites are selected to compete in ArchaeoMadness, and each day two sites are matched up in a head-to-head elimination contest. Participants are encouraged to vote for their favorite of the two. The winning site from each matchup moves on to the next round. The competition is fun and encourages people to learn about each site before they make their choices.

Tweet your nominations for next year’s competition to @ArchaeologyDay and be sure to use the #ArchaeoMadness hashtag. The tournament will feature four sites from each of the following geographic regions: Africa, Central America, Central and Eastern Asia, Europe, the Near East, North America, South America, and Oceania.

The AIA and Boston’s Museum of Science Team Up for Two-Day Fair

On October 16 and 17, 2015, the AIA and the Museum of Science (MOS) in Boston hosted the Ninth Annual AIA-MOS Archaeology Fair. The AIA and MOS were joined by 19 other organizations. Presentations and activities covered a wide variety of topics that focused on technologies such as flintknapping, glassblowing, and weaving, and on archaeological techniques such as excavation—both on land and underwater—remote sensing, and artifact reconstruction. Fair visitors were able to interact with archaeologists and could reconstruct artifacts, map a historic shipwreck, learn about ancient spear-throwers, and receive a lesson in Maya math.

The Annual AIA-MOS Archaeology Fair is now AIA’s signature International Archaeology Day event. Started nine years ago, the fair was created to highlight archaeology in New England. Each year between 15 and 20 local organizations gather at the Museum of Science to present informative, entertaining, and interactive archaeological activities for people of all ages. The event regularly receives between 5,000 and 6,000 visitors over a two-day period. Typically, school groups on field trips are the bulk of the first day’s attendees. More than 1,500 students, teachers, and chaperones attend the fair each year. The fair is growing in popularity with home-schoolers and families, and is now a fixture on many of these groups’ annual calendar of activities.

The fair was envisioned, from its inception, as a fun and enriching public outreach opportunity to connect people in a direct way with archaeology. Of equal importance, it allows local archaeological and historical groups to demonstrate what they do for large and appreciative audiences. Plans are already under way for next year’s AIAMOS Fair and it promises to be bigger and better than ever.

AIA 2016 Calendar “A Year of Archaeology” Now Available

The 2016 AIA calendar “A Year of Archaeology,” featuring 12 stunning photos from the AIA Photo Contest, is now available for purchase at archaeological.org/calendar. All proceeds from the sale of the calendar go directly to the AIA Site Preservation Program and will be used to protect and preserve archaeological sites around the world. Enjoy the beauty of archaeology all year long, even as you help the AIA preserve archaeological sites.

We Value Your Support

AIA programs and activities are made possible by your generosity. We ask you to continue your support of the AIA and its programs by making a donation at archaeological.org/giving/donate. Thank you!

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The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.