The “History of archaeology” commission of the International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS)

In 1865 the first international organization for prehistoric archaeology was founded in La Spezia (Italy) as the Congrès international d’anthropologie et d’archéologie préhistorique (CIAAP). It was active until the First World War, when it was dissolved due to the rivalries between nations. A new organization was created in 1931, in Bern, to continue this international effort, the “International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences” (IUPPS). Since then, it groups together all the sciences related to prehistoric and protohistoric studies: archaeology, anthropology, palaeontology, geology, zoology, botany, environmental sciences, physics, chemistry, geography, history, numismatics, epigraphy, mathematics and other.
Research into the mechanisms of adaption and the dynamics of human societies lies at the heart of the IUPPS’s scientific interest. The IUPPS therefore periodically organises a world congress of prehistoric and protohistoric sciences and creates scientific commissions devoted to specific research issues.
One of these commissions is devoted to the History of Archaeology.

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19th IUPPS conference. Call for paper: “Old excavations, new data: the use of archives in current archaeological research projects”

Organizors: Sébastien Plutniak & Alessandro Guidi

Conference website:


For thirty years now, the history of archaeology has been a growing field of investigation, constituting a set of studies based on rigorous historical methods and archival materials, organising a community and research programs (Schnapp et al. 2007). These empirical (i.e. archive-based) investigation strengthened the interest for the production, conservation, dissemination and re-use of the documents produced by past archaeologists (Merriman and Swain 1999, Moro Abadía 2013). In return, this aroused a new interest by the archaeologists themselves in the archive of the discipline, not only to get a better understanding of its history, but also to use the archival materials as a source of archaeological data. This renewed interest is parallel to the current concern about open science and (digital) data-reuse in archaeology (Kansa and Kansa 2013) but this session will focus on the former. Several recent research projects had given a crucial role in the study and re-use of ancient archaeological documentation. Examples include, investigations at the Abri Pataud prehistoric shelter (Nespoulet and Chiotti 2007) and about the skeleton found in the Regourdou 1 cave in Southern France (Maureille et al. 2015), at the Mas d’Azil cave (Ramis et al. 2015), at the rediscovered Moulin Quignon site in Northern France (Antoine et al. 2019), at Niah’s Cave in north Borneo, Malaysia (Barker et al. 2013).

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IUPPS “History of archaeology” commission members at the “Histories of Archaeology” conference (Canberra, March 2020)

The “Histories of Archaeology” conference will take place from 23 to 27 March 2020 at The Australian National University in Canberra.
Four members of the IUPPS “History of archaeology” commission are invited as keynote speakers: Margarita Díaz-Andreu, Oscar Moro-Abadia, Tim Murray and Nathan Schlanger.

On 23–27 March 2020 the “Collective Biography of Archaeology in the Pacific” (CBAP) Australian Research Council Laureate Project, led by Professor Matthew Spriggs, will be hosting the Histories of Archaeology conference at The Australian National University in Canberra, airing new ideas on the history of archaeology worldwide.

Invited keynote speakers include Margarita Díaz-Andreu, Stephanie Moser, Oscar Moro-Abadia, Tim Murray, Lynette Russell and Nathan Schlanger. The conference concludes the CBAP Project and launches the CBAP linked international museum exhibitions under the title of Uncovering Pacific Pasts: Histories of Archaeology in Oceania, which will take place at approximately 40 museums and cultural institutions worldwide.

Themes for the conference include: History of archaeology, archaeological theory and method; Objects and archives: history of archaeology through collections research; History of archaeology in the Pacific and Australia; Women in archaeology and the archaeology of gender; and, Indigenous agency and individuals in the history of archaeology.