15 June, 2014

SEAA6: report 1

From June 7th (Sat) to 10th (Tue), I joined in the 6th Worldwide Conference of the SEAA (Society for East Asian Archaeology).

This conference was held in the National University of Mongolia, and more than 200 participants from many countries (China, Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, Japan, European countries, USA, Canada, etc.) come to this. 25 sessions were conducted, and I went to the following sessions.

June 7 (Sat)
  • 02 Archaeology of Mongolia
This session contained presentations showing recent Mongolian archaeological research results, but it focused on more about anthropological methods mainly. Some presentations showed subsistence activities in prehistoric Mongolia.

I had no information and expertise about Mongolian archaeology. Especially I didn't know about "Deer Stone (reindeer stones)" which are ancient megaliths carved with symbols found in Siberia and Mongolia. After we wet to the National Museum of Mongolia on June 8 as our excursion and this museum exhibited these stone materials, and I've got information about their characteristics.

June 8 (Sun)
  • 09 Charting the Social Lives of Objects and Goods in China: Perspectives from Archaeology and Art History
The topics contained jade materials, swords, bead assemblages, origins of local artefacts, and production and distribution of salt. I really enjoyed these topics related to subsistence activities in China.
  • 11 Starting Over Again: the Early Palaeolithic Research in Japan Today 
All of speakers were just only Japanese archaeologists majoring Palaeolithic cultures. If any speakers outside Japan told this topic, this session would be totally different.

One reason was that many speakers mentioned a scandal about faked Palaeolithic stone tools in Japan. Of course, we have to keep in mind this scandal as a researcher's ethic. But no more is necessary to mention about it at this kind of international conferences. Some researchers outside Japan feel that Japanese archaeologists do not have any confidences in their research results.

An attendee said to the speakers, "Stop talking this scandal. We believe your Japanese recent results." I was really stimulated by his words.

Another reason was that all presentation styles had peculiar features of many Japanese archaeologists, which are just talking about their data. I know that presenting the data is very important. But at an international conference, we need to talk more about our own stories based on the data. I mean that they are not wild speculations, but that we need to show our
hypothesis verifications and interpretations using the fresh data.

I rethink that presentation styles at international conferences will be shifted away from those in Japanese conferences.

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I'll report other sessions in the next article.

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