Welcome Address from the president of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to welcome you on behalf of the Czech Academy of Sciences to the ninth World Archaeological Congress, which after many years is returning to Europe, right to its heart, to Prague. It shows that Prague is not only a traditional city of European culture and a crossroads of European history, but it is also becoming a favourite and inspiring meeting place for scientists from around the world.
Czech and Central European archaeology has a tradition of more than two hundred years, and all the time, it plays an important role in the family of social sciences and humanities. Today, perhaps more than ever before, archaeology is an important source of our knowledge and understanding of historical processes and human behaviour. Humankind is currently facing a range of threats in the form of pandemic diseases, wars and climate change, and archaeology is one of the scientific disciplines that can help us to see what was going on in the past, and to cope with such challenges in future.
It is a pleasure for me that the global archaeological community is gathering in Prague, represented by delegates from more than 60 countries. I trust that you will be impressed by the enormous historical potential of Prague and our country, and that it will become an inspiring backdrop for your scientific discussions.
I wish your congress success, and you personally many pleasant scientific and social experiences. Have a nice time in summer Prague!
President of Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
Global archaeology, the study of civilizations and the modern world
Does archaeology actually (still?) matter? Or does it show itself more relevant than ever? I do not doubt that archaeology may become a strategic science for this century.
Why is that? The answer is rather simple. Archaeology is able, to detect, analyse, and interpret long-term trends and evolutionary trajectories of any given society or civilization from its beginning, through its rise and apogee, to its crisis, transformations, and then new beginning and rise. Piecing together “tiles of knowledge” provided by natural and technical sciences together with those from social sciences, archaeology may be likened to a tiled window(s) such as those genuine and unique ones created by Marc Chagall in the cathedral of Reims.
When we take a look at the several imaginary seconds that form the histories and fates of civilizations within the whole existence of our planet, we will find that the relations between people, ideas of a few individuals, available resources, and the way how the people have been able to cope with the environment that surrounded them and with its changes in the time, is precisely the focal point in which human conscience and forces of nature meet and merge. Leadership is one of the firm parts of this data pool. Any and every society and civilization of the Past faced and solved similar if not identical challenges: their rise and fall, present or absent leadership, the roles of the elites, preservation of the social contract, presence or lack of common goals and visions, social identity, religion and the symbolical world, available sources of energy and the attained technological level, changing environment, and rise or drop of complexity. We know them all from our world. It appears that the impact and virtue of all these factors can be generalized in the following seven laws which limit and define every known society and civilization including our own:
I. The law of collapse and regeneration
All societies and civilizations are limited in time and space. There is usually a conflict at the beginning and the end. Their collapse does not mean extinction, but a significant transformation, where the existing society or civilization usually transforms into another one.
II. The law of a leap-change
Principal changes in the development of societies and civilizations usually happen sudden, leaps rather than linear progression. Their way of functioning completely changes during these leaps.
III. The Heraclitus law
What has led society and civilization to the top usually also causes its crisis.
IV. The law of shared values and visions
Each society and civilization is based on collectively shared values, visions, and implicit law.
V. The social contract law
Each civilization and society necessitates for its stable existence a functional social contract based on the cooperation between individual parts of the society. Representatives of the so-called elites have a significant influence on their quality and character.
VI. The law of energy and technological determination
The development of each society and civilization is determined by technologies and energy resources. Society and civilization are not able to grow or maintain their complexity without objectively accessible energy.
VII. The law of adaptation
The rate of the ability of society and civilization to adapt to changes in the natural environment decides its rate of success.
For good or bad, we are now in many ways also a different civilization than those that preceded us. It does not mean that we are inevitably better in all basic aspects. We are global in scale, we have attained an unparalleled level of technology, advancements in science, and knowledge. We also tend to make a frequent mistake that we equate all of this with wisdom, which is understandably not the case.
What I believe, is that archaeology is a powerful tool to understand what we are and where we stand, from where we come, and where we are heading to. For the first time, we do not have to end up like all those before us as the seven laws outlined above are quite well understood and known. We, therefore, can see what to do to avoid a collapse (meaning a sudden drop in complexity due to a lack of resources that would make it possible to preserve or even increase the current level of development), or at least to prevent the worst impacts of the looming crisis. To forego ending up like all the civilizations before us, let us respect the resources around us and treat them in such a manner that we do not destroy them, let us build the real knowledge of our world: only this, in connection with scientific and technological progress, can guarantee our future. Basic research plays a crucial role here. Science cannot be managed only based on what is currently useful. In history, we have often witnessed ancient discoveries that found application only when their time arrived. Also, we shouldn’t forget that all we can see in our past is the result of concrete people and leadership of but a few. Our Past, as archaeology demonstrates, is also the result of faith and visions which make us so human and able to overcome even the worst challenges. We can see it in the past, we can see it now, and we will see it in the future. I strongly believe that the World Archaeological Congress in Prague will provide plenty of demonstrations for this claim.
WAC-9 Honorary President
A Word from the President of the World Archaeological Congress
Nowadays, it is a truism to say that the world is in crisis, and the discipline of archaeology, firmly situated in the contemporary world, is meant to be in crisis, too. However, it is not necessarily the case; in reaction to the relentless expansion of hyper-capitalist economy-led globalization and the exacerbation of postcolonial problems, Archaeology with Capital A has been reorganizing itself by proactively ‘localizing’ itself into an increasing number of ‘archaeologies’ differentiated along with issues concerning inequality, discrimination, injustices, destruction of cultural heritage and identities, and infringement of basic human rights generated by the deepening crisis.
World Archaeological Congress was founded in 1986, when problems generated and exacerbated by the crisis began to be felt as something which we the citizens of the world, including archaeologists, could no longer ignore. The accelerating pace of globalization, on the one hand, was intensifying inequality and discrimination, and on the other, was raising global awareness of human suffering. Our global archaeological community, the World Archaeological Congress, or ‘WAC’, was formed specifically in line with the UN condemnation of the then apartheid regime of the Republic of South Africa. However, retrospectively, the birth of WAC can be recognized to have been a part of the global movement responding to rising problems that hyper-capitalism and globalization led to.
36 years on, the situation remains to be critical. In some ways, problems have deepened. Widening economic, social, cultural and political gaps and inequalities within and between human groups and communities of all kinds, ranging from individual families, genders, and countries, to global regions, are destabilizing our ontological security, fuelling hatred, and resulting in all sorts of extremism. Unchecked exploitation of natural resources, insufficient regulation of industrial productions, and the endless march of irresponsible consumerism are threatening the survival of living species, including human beings.
What can we do? I would like to say we can do a lot. The ideals, causes and objectives of WAC, many of which were regarded as irrelevant to archaeology when it was founded back in 1986, have now firmly become common principles to be complied with and drawn upon in doing good archaeologies. Locally-rooted archaeological practices are increasingly involved in proactive movements to protect local heritage, local environment and local identities. Such local movements are increasingly situated in global movements to protect the well-being of our lived world.
Prague is a fitting place for us to gather, examine how far we have come, and together think and imagine which directions we shall move and what we will be able to do for the betterment of archaeologies and the betterment of the world; Prague has witnessed many human struggles and endeavours to protect and further human freedom and basic human rights, some of which were defeated and some of which were won.
I am looking forward to welcoming you to Prague, and sharing our ideas, imaginations and dreams for the futures of archaeologies!
President of the World Archaeological Congress
Welcome to WAC-9 Prague – Welcome Address from the WAC-9 Academic Secretary
Dear WAC Members, dear colleagues!
36 years after its birth in Southampton, the World Archaeological Congress has come back to Europe having grown into a highly influential world organization. However, the way to Prague was not straight forward. In March 2020, when we were finalizing preparations, 172 academic sessions were approved by the Scientific Committee and over 1200 WAC members submitted their papers. Then the Covid-19 pandemic started, and everything suddenly froze.
All we could do at the time was to hope that schools would reopen, planes would start flying, and that we would meet again and further develop our friendship. We now know that it was a historic lesson that alerted us to the vulnerability of global travel and that the opportunities we had previously taken for granted could be dramatically truncated in a week. Globally, we have gone through restrictions, fears, and tragedies.
WAC-9 was first postponed until 2021; it was a difficult but inevitable decision, but it also contained the hope that we would soon see a light at the end of the dark tunnel, such as vaccine, a cure, and a solution that would return life to the way it used to be before the pandemic. However, the Coronavirus was indeed a powerful adversary and we had no choice but to postpone our meeting for another year until 2022. This was already a really serious limitation for our community and many of us lost contact and desire in the global meeting. Many sections were withdrawn, many organizers lost interest, some changed or lost their jobs. Life is different than we were used to.
Hopefully, we have come out of the two pandemic years strengthened. We have learned how to communicate virtually, and for many international projects and conferences, online collaboration is a great asset. Yes, even conferences and congresses will not be the same as before. People still prefer face-to-face contact and we are starting to travel again, but for a global community like WAC, virtual communication is an essential part of the future. Perhaps we will also appreciate the opportunities for face-to-face meetings and friendships even more. Only time will tell what the future of our communication will be.
After two years of fighting the Coronavirus, however, another global problem has emerged in Putin's imperialism, which is not only committing genocide in a sovereign European country, but threatening the existence of the whole of humankind with irresponsible and totally unjustifiable threats to use nuclear weapons. The consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are yet to demonstrate their full global effects, though we already witness how the global commodity markets are being destabilised by this war.
Calling the war in Ukraine a local European conflict is mistake, as many countries worldwide are already indirectly involved; the impact of the irresponsible Russian intervention will influence the global food crisis. Very soon, far reaching consequences will be especially felt in vulnerable countries in Africa and the Middle East that depend on wheat supplies from Ukraine.
Here, in Czech Republic, the war in Ukraine feels very close, and its impacts can be observed as you visit Prague. As of June 2022, 4% of current residents in Czech Republic are Ukrainian refugees. As with other Central/Eastern European countries, ordinary citizens are sheltering refugees in our homes, fundraising for displaced people, and supporting colleagues and students who remain in Ukraine.
The pandemic and the war are features of Prague WAC-9. The number of participants is considerably lower than in previous congresses. The WAC Council even decided not to hold the General Assembly here given such limited possibilities of travel and communication. But let’s be positive about our meeting! We survive, and we prove our global archaeological community is able to sustain and continue for many years to come.
Let’s enjoy the opportunity to meet, in person or virtually through screens of computers. Let’s enjoy the unique atmosphere of Prague, which has always been a multicultural and multilingual crossroad of Central Europe. The atmospheric streets of Prague hide amazing subterranean relics of the medieval city, some of which are still waiting to be discovered. The Czech Capital is the city of St. Wenceslaus, and has spirit of Franz Kafka and Václav Havel.
This special event offers us the opportunity to share the results of our research and discuss the role of archaeology and the state of world heritage in the current globalized world. It mediates discussion on professional training and public education for disadvantaged nations, groups, and communities. The voices of representatives of different Indigenous groups are welcomed in Prague.
WAC-9 simply brings the clear statement: we want to continue our global communication and we will never give up!
WAC-9 Academic Secretary
June 1, 2021
Session proposal submission re-opened
November 15, 2021
Session proposal submission deadline
January 3, 2022
Notification of the accepted/rejected session proposals
January 3, 2022
Session abstracts announced & Call for paper/poster submissions
March 21, 2022
April 21, 2022
Abstract submission deadline
May 11, 2022
Early registration fee deadline
May 30, 2022
Abstract acceptance/rejection notification to authors
June 3, 2022
Presenting author’s registration deadline
June 19, 2022
Late registration fee deadline
July 3–8, 2022