IWGP 2016: A Quick Recap

The 17th Conference of the International Working Group for Palaeoethnobotany (IWGP) took place in Paris from July 4th-9th 2016. Attending this conference has been on my academic to-do list for years. Why the delay?

This conference only happens every three years. Three years ago, I was in the middle of an excavation season in Ethiopia when the 16th IWGP Conference took place. Fast forward three years, my schedule allowed me to attend the 17th conference.

First, if you’re not too sure what palaeoethnobotany is, check out this post.

Second, if you’re familiar with palaeoethnobotany, but never heard of this conference, here is a quick rundown:

IWGP’s first conference occurred in 1968 at Kacina Castle near Prague (now in the Czech Republic).  The aim was to bring together scholars studying archaeological plants remains in order to better understand the activities and environments of past human populations and exchange ideas. While the original focus was mainly on the Old World, scholars working in different regions have always been welcome. For archaeobotanists, this is an important international conference to attend.

Though this was my first IWGP, I certainly hope it won’t be my last. For me, good people with interesting ideas make a worthwhile conference. IWGP definitely had that for me and a bit more. Here are three reasons why I hope to attend this conference again:

  1. Plant Focus: This might seem obvious; however, it is worth pointing out. As an archaeobotanist, it’s really nice to go to a conference where you can meet colleagues and dive into the nuts and bolts of archaeobotanical issues and research. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy other thematic conferences, but if you follow this website, you know I have a thing for plants.
  2. Diversity: Though this was my first IWGP conference, I was told by many participants that conference continues to get bigger and bigger. The organizing committee had to create parallel sessions (for the first time) due to the large number of papers that were submitted. To be honest, the sheer amount of talks was almost overwhelming; however, I really appreciated the diversity of geographic areas, time periods, and methods that were covered. It was insightful to see what was happening around the world.
  3. Location: The organizing committee and the conference participants seem to appreciate great locations. Paris, especially the Jardin des Plantes, was a fantastic spot from a plant-themed conference. In addition to the academic program, this year’s conference provided participants access to museums, greenhouses, and more. The 18th meeting will be in Lucce, Italy, which looks both gorgeous and delicious. If any fellow archaeobotanists are reading this, I hope to see you there.

If you want more information, check out the IWGP website: http://www.palaeoethnobotany.com/index.php

entrance-to-the-jardin-des-plantes
Entrance to the Jardin des Plantes.
cosmos-bipinnatus-asteraceae
Labelled plants everywhere!
evolution-gallery-paris
The Evolution Gallery was one of the locations for paper talks.
eiffel-tower-from-musee-de-lhomme
The newly renovated Musée de l’Homme was the location of the conference welcome drinks. The view of the Eiffel Tower was pretty great.
people-musee-de-lhomme
The Musée de l’Homme is an anthropological museum. Pictured are busts from the 19th Century.
Manfred Rösch generously provided crates beyond crates of his homemade German for ethnobotanical tastings.
Manfred Rösch generously provided crates beyond crates of his homemade German wine for ethnobotanical tastings. Thank you!
Pictured in the distances are some greenhouses that we could visit for free!
Pictured in the distance are some greenhouses that we could visit as part of the conference for free!
Paleobotanical sightings in the greenhouse!
Paleobotanical sightings in the greenhouse!
There was no stoppage of good food as we perused Rue Mouffetard during our conference lunch breaks. Our group's favorite place was Restaurant L'Epoque. It had an affordable lunch menu (appetizer + main dish + dessert = 15 euros!). Pictured here is an appetizer with cantaloupe, prosciutto, cheese, and salad.
There was no stoppage of good food as we perused Rue Mouffetard during our conference lunch breaks. Our group’s favorite place was Restaurant L’Epoque. It had an affordable lunch menu (appetizer + main dish + dessert = 15 euros!). Pictured here is an appetizer with cantaloupe, prosciutto, cheese, and salad.
The organizing committee's farewell.
The organizing committee’s farewell. Thanks again for a great conference!
Seen around the Jardin des Plantes.
Seen around the Jardin des Plantes. Ready to venture around Lucce in 2019!

 

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.

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