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Cairns, Queensland, Australia 2012

Organised by Kat Szabó and Sean Ulm

19th – 23rd June 2012, Cairns, Australia

Conference Report: 3rd Independent Meeting of the ICAZ Archaeomalacology Working Group (AMWG)

  • Papers and Posters

Attended by over 20 delegates from 8 countries worldwide, the conference was divided into two sessions: ‘Enhancing Narrative’ and ‘Advancing Methods’. Fourteen papers and three posters were presented over three days (Tuesday 20th, Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd). The presentations reflected the diversity of archaeomalacological research currently conducted by members of the group and covered a range of thematic topics – from qualitative analysis (Annalisa Christie and Katherine Szabo) and experimental archaeology (Brent Koppel) to advanced scientific methods (Zhanna Antipushina and Sean Ulm) and quantitative analysis (Eddie Thangavelu and Catherine Dupont). All papers highlighted the rich potential for methodological development and regional research in the future. The papers (both presented and proposed) also demonstrated the global coverage of the group, documenting research from the five regions worldwide including the Pacific, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America – a fact that bodes well for the future development of the group.

  • Fieldtrips

In light of the conference location, fieldtrips were arranged to provide delegates with an opportunity to experience the rich natural and cultural heritage of Queensland. Building on from a lecture on the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef by ‘Reef Teach’ on Monday afternoon, delegates were taken to one of the reefs where they could experience the ecology in person either snorkelling, diving, or viewing from the surface using a semi submersible or glass bottom boat. The conference was followed by a daytrip to the Daintree River which included a guided walk through the rainforests and a long afternoon exploring the inter-tidal zone and mangroves with representatives of the Kuku Yalanji people. As part of this delegates observed traditional exploitation practices, listened to stories about the sea, learnt how to handle and throw a spear and were encouraged to catch their own food for an afternoon snack.

  • Points of Interest

The conference scheduled allowed plenty of time for discussion. Following the nomination of the new coordinator (Zhanna Antipushina) and assistant coordinator (Annalisa Christie) an extended period was spent discussing future directions for the group. The group has now reached a ‘critical mass’ of over 100 members worldwide, covering a range of specialities and research areas within archaeomalacology. As such, one avenue for future development would be the initiation of thematic forums within the group set up online to facilitate enhanced dialogue within and between specialisms within archaeomalacology. These web-based forums could provide members with an opportunity to consolidate their research strategies with the aim of producing a manual that would cover current approaches in archaeomalacology. More practically, the new coordinators plan to increase the frequency of circulation of the group newsletter from its current circulation to once monthly – providing members with details of publications and current work in archaeomalacology on a more regular basis.

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