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.
The members of this Commission are experienced researchers, who approach the history of archaeology beyond strictly national boundaries. The composition of the Commission observes a broad international representativity. Its members originate presently from sixteen different countries, on three continents. The aims of the Commission are:
- to document the history of pre- and protohistoric archaeology, from its first establishment up to the present;
- to encourage scientific research in the field, emphasizing transversal and international perspectives, and moving beyond specific traditions, factions, and overly presentist or hagiographic approaches.
In its activities, the Commission observes and enforces the basic
principles of historical scholarship, with a special commitment to avoid
any political instrumentalization. The Commission endeavours to develop
historiographic scholarship for the benefit of reflexive archaeological
Insofar as the IUPPS seeks to reflect the scientific community as broadly as possible, the Commission will avoid the deliberate and exclusive channeling of historical research for partisan theoretical ends. The Commission commits itself to propose a specialized session at each Congress of the IUPPS, and also to organise at least one relevant scientific event per year. As appropriate, these events may be set up in partnership with other scientific institutions.