The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is hosting the Association for Environmental Archaeology (AEA) spring conference in Kirkwall, Orkney, in April 2016.
Following a wine reception and plenary lecture on the evening of Friday, April 1, we will hold the one-day AEA spring conference on April 2. In the evening we will have a “Taste of Orkney” conference dinner at the nearby Lynnfield Hotel.
On April 3, we will host the Professional Zooarchaeology Group meeting, while simultaneously providing a field trip option for those wishing to explore more of Orkney. On the evening of April 3, there will be a reception at the Stromness Museum.
Field trips will again be available on April 4, and on April 5-6, the Archaeomalacology Working Group meeting will take place.
AEA Conference Abstract
The notion of the island as a laboratory, as a world in microcosm with well-defined boundaries, is an appealing and long established cliché. For almost two centuries, we have explored the distinctive biological and historical trajectories of different islands, and have identified a variety of ‘island effects’; on plants and animals and on human communities.
Such work demonstrates that many islands offered distinctive potentials (and barriers) for social and ecological development. That said, research has often struggled to deal with a number of crucial problems; issues of scale and influence, of biogeography, connectivity and sustainability, that we are often ill-equipped to explore.
This meeting provides a context in which to take a critical look at some of the premises upon which island-based work has often been undertaken, and asks some fairly fundamental questions. Is it helpful to think of islands as isolated or remote? Was the sea a barrier or a medium of movement and communication? How should we understand the place that island communities occupied in broader worlds? How did the nature of that wider articulation change over time and how was it manifest differently for individual communities/species? Most important of all, how should we reconcile the local details of colonisation, adaptation and (even) abandonment within broader processes of environmental and social change?
Structured around the theme of isolation and connectivity, this meeting will give us a chance to look at some of these crucial concerns, with contributions from archaeobotany to zooarchaeology, from biomolecular analyses to climatology, and from landscape to seascape.
Although this meeting will take place in the Northern Isles, there is no geographic restriction on submissions: by presenting papers set in various diverse ‘conceptual islands’ and island groups we hope to draw together and share methodologies and discussions.