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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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