Episode 25. Adelheid Otto, Nicolò Marchetti, Ingolf Thuesen: ICAANE: archaeology coming together: Transcript

0:13  JT

Hello, and welcome to the Thin End of the Wedge. The podcast where experts from around the world share new and interesting stories about life in the ancient Middle East. My name is Jon. Each episode, I talk to friends and colleagues, and get them to explain their work in a way we can all understand.

0:32  JT

Conferences are key moments in the academic schedule. Hundreds of specialists can come together to share the latest research and make connections. They can be stimulating and enjoyable events. On the other hand, there can be many factors that make it more difficult for some colleagues to attend them: just to take the most obvious examples, they can be expensive in time and money, and there can be problems with visas. There are also issues like the environmental cost. The Covid pandemic adds yet another dimension: how can we meet when travel and mixing are restricted?

1:11  JT

The “ICAANE” is the biggest conference addressing the ancient Middle East. The scale and scope of it is astonishing. The latest ICAANE just took place, virtually, in Italy. In this episode, I talk to three guests in turn: the host of ICAANE past, the host of ICAANE present, and the host of ICAANE yet to come.

1:36  JT

Our guests discuss what ICAANE is, how it works, and what it takes to organise such a thing. What are the strengths and weaknesses of in-person and virtual events, and what might the future hold now?

1:51  JT

So get yourself a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable. And let’s meet today’s guests.

2:05  JT

Hello, and welcome to Thin End of the Wedge. Thank you for joining us.


Hello, Jon. Thank you for inviting me.

2:12  JT

Could you tell us please: who are you, and what do you do?

2:16  AO

So my name is Adelheid Otto. I am professor for Near Eastern Archaeology at LMU, Munich. And I was the organiser of the last real ICAANE in 2018. I’ve done fieldwork research in various Near Eastern countries. I’m also a specialist on art and art history. And I try in my teaching at these to cover the whole range of Near Eastern periods and regions.

2:49  JT

Could you tell us please: what is ICAANE?

2:53  AO

Yes, that’s a congress or, let’s say, it is the largest and the only global international congress. So ICAANE stands for International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. And this congress was founded in 1998, by Italian Professor Paolo Matthiae, in Rome, with a group of colleagues from various European and other countries who felt the need that the Near Eastern archaeologists should have a congress where they could exchange their most recent results and their ongoing studies.

3:42  AO

Before that, you know, since 1950, there was the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale. So the congress on the philology, on the history of the Near East, which was founded in France. And archaeologists would go to these congresses in order to present their research. However, this congress just became too large. And also the field of Near Eastern archaeology is so varied and so vast. So we do not cover only the archaeology of the historical periods, and not only Mesopotamia proper, so the areas where you have cuneiform texts and other written informations to tell you about the past and the history, but we have also many, many regions where archaeology is prehistory. So there are no historical texts which tell you about the past. We have to figure out like detectives, the archaeology and the past of the people through stones and pottery and micro-remains, and zoological remains and so on. So this need was felt to found a special congress only for archaeologists.

5:10  JT

What’s the geographical range? You said it’s not just Mesopotamia.

5:14  AO

It covers the region from Turkey and Cyprus in the West, over modern Syria, Iraq, Iran until Afghanistan, in the east, and it goes further north to the Caucasus, so to Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and also Uzbekistan, Kajikistan, Kazakhstan. And in the south, we have Saudi Arabian peninsula, with Yemen, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and even until the Nile Delta in Egypt with the Hyksos period. So it’s really a vast area, it’s huge. And therefore, for example, during the last ICAANE, which I organised in Munich, we had 400 papers, from people from over 40 modern countries. People unite there and see a vast range of papers about subjects and topics which they had never heard before.

6:24  JT

And the chronological range: what’s the earliest and latest ICAANE covers?

6:29  AO

We are going even beyond the Neolithic period. So Neolithic is defined as the period when people settled down for the first time in the Near East. So in the region of today Syria and Turkey and Iraq. So this was around 10,000 before Christ, but meanwhile, we are going back until the Palaeolithic period. So that’s about 20,000 BC. And then there is an ongoing debate on when should we stop. Because usually we say around the year zero, we stop it, but why? If you are in the Near East, you excavate a site, you have just a succession of levels of all the periods, you cannot say ‘I’m not interested in the uppermost level’. You are excavating it. So it’s a very natural process, that we have to be interested in every period until today. Another reason was there is so far, no other congress for the Islamic archaeology of the Near East. It sounds strange, but that does not exist. And therefore, this ICAANE has always one section devoted only to the field of Islamic archaeology. But of course, we cannot leave, for example, the Sasanian period or the Parthian period, or the Roman period in Syria, also, we cannot leave this out. So we select papers, cover also these periods.

8:11  JT

Who runs ICAANE?

8:13  AO

There is a scientific committee, who entrusts the host of the ICAANE with the organisation. And so it is completely due to this host to organise it, to plan the thematic sections, to organise the rooms, to organise the programme, which is quite a challenge. For example, most of the time, we have at least 10 parallel sessions going on. So papers from nine o’clock in the morning to seven o’clock in the evening, in nine different rooms or 10 different rooms. And so as an organiser, {LAUGHS} it’s a real challenge, because a paper on, let’s say, Northern Iraq, should not take place in the same time slot as another paper on northern Iraq in another session. And so it takes weeks or months to make the perfect programme. Additionally, we don’t have only papers, in thematic sections. So usually we choose a few key topics or themes. Something like ‘images in context’ or so, or ‘mobility in the ancient world’. But we have a very, very large section with the easy title ‘fieldwork reports’. This sounds very boring. But most of the time this is the most interesting section, because people coming from the field explained the results of their very, very latest ongoing research in the field. And so you have really the fresh results from the first hand. And because publications of results sometimes takes some years, several years, it is so important to go there to the ICAANE to hear these papers on the ongoing research, and also to look beyond the borders of one’s own research.

10:22  JT

What are the logistics of organising an in-person ICAANE?

10:26  AO

I was very much surprised to follow now this virtual conference, because we are used to these normal conferences. But as you said, there are disadvantages also of these in-person conferences, because it’s an enormous logistic challenge–800 people were attending the last ICAANE, in the last normal ICAANE, in Munich. So you have to find a place where they can meet and interact in the coffee breaks. You have to find rooms which are close enough together, that people can switch from the various rooms and sections.

11:11  AO

And you need places to meet where you can talk with your colleagues. Because these real or normal ICAANEs, it’s not only congresses where papers and posters are presented, it’s especially a place where you can meet colleagues, where you can meet old friends and chat with them. But also, for example, where students and advanced scholars and then the very famous professors, where they meet each other, where they get into contact, and where new relations are established. So this is extremely important. And I remember the first ICAANE, which I attended, when I was a very small student. {LAUGHS} It was wonderful to see these colleagues and friends and to meet other students from all the countries in the world. It’s very, very international. As I said to you, we had in Munich, we had people from 40 countries, all coming together in order to exchange their ideas about the Near Eastern archaeology. It’s absolutely fascinating.

12:28  JT

Your responsibilities extend beyond the end of the last paper, don’t they?

12:32  AO

So the organiser, the host of the ICAANE, is also responsible for the publication of these papers. And that is another challenge after the very challenging ICAANE congress itself has to stop. Because for the last ICAANE, for example, we published 100 … nearly 100 papers. And that’s a total 1,200 pages of publication. The organisers have to do the editorial work of papers on this vast area. I’m not an expert on all of this, on the topics of all these papers. So this was a real challenge. And the ICAANE acts, they should be finished when the next ICAANE takes place, so after two years, which is not too easy. But due to the collaboration of Michael Herles and Kai Kaniuth, and many other people of my Institute we did it.

13:37  JT

Thank you very much.

13:39  AO

You’re welcome. Thank you. {LAUGHS}

13:51  JT

Hello, and welcome to Thin End of the Wedge. Thank you for joining us.

13:55  NM

My pleasure.

13:57  JT

Could you tell us please: who are you, and what do you do?

14:00  NM

I am Nicolò Marchetti, and I teach Near Eastern archaeology at the University of Bologna, Italy. I’ve been working in Iraq since 2016. First with a survey in the southern Mesopotamia plain. And since 2019, we are working on the excavation and conservation project at East Nineveh in Mosul.

14:21  JT

What is the significance of ICAANE to people working in this field?

14:26  NM

ICAANE has been constantly shifting apart, at least in my view, its significance for the international scientific community. It started as a small endeavour, very focused on Near Eastern archaeology, which means post-prehistoric, pre-classical. It then expanded to Islamic archaeology, because there was no specific forum for this very important discipline. And finally, what’s happening in this years–it already started in Munich three years ago–I think it took hold in the edition which is just over which we held at Bologna in early April. We reached almost 1000 registered participants. And the focus was multi-period. What is really becoming in the needs of the community apparently, is a focus on the region. And it is multi-period. Which makes sense, because archaeology is a discipline. Near Eastern archaeology is not a discipline in itself. It’s a tag, which, of course, is my field of specialisation, obviously.

15:31  NM

But the archaeology in the Near East is now what is of concern, especially in these latest years. The extent of damage in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere, is unimaginable. The urgencies we are facing must be faced globally. Global archaeology today means that you cannot really select a period of interest at the site that. You have to cope with all its archaeology, all its problems, study it, present it in an integrated way, a global perspective. So the ICAANE, it has been constantly changing. And nowadays, I think the need of the community is the one which we have tried to face, which means a focus on the region and its enormous array of problems, both scientific and conservation.

16:20  JT

What are the logistics of organising a virtual ICAANE?

16:24  NM

One and a half years ago, this question we would have never even … I would have never even dreamt of. We started thinking in a very confused way in early March 2020, when the situation was spinning out of control, unfortunately, everywhere, especially in Italy. We then took a decision together with international scientific committee or the ICAANE to postpone it of one year, hoping that things that would have been better by then. I was very lucky that my university accepted this shift, because it was so complex. We benefited from unprecedented space that were allocated to the congress. For a congress in person of this dimension, we needed basically, two whole palaces connected and 15 rooms working in parallel, and receptions. So you can imagine the social dinner that we planned in the palace at the centre of the city. The events were really planned at city level, but then we postponed it.

17:25  NM

And then we decided in the fall to hold it in a mixed version. So partly in present for those willing to travel, who it was clear, were already a minority by then. But still a sizeable minority. And a remote one. So we were planning to have sessions half in remote, half in presence with people going in and out for rooms, we’re having projections everywhere.

17:50  NM

So at the very beginning of March, this year, we had the new decree by the Italian Prime Ministry. And it was clear, we were only going remote. We informed the community. And let me tell you, we have all become acquainted with this approach now communicating remotely. Basically, there were almost no negative reactions. Somehow everybody either decided already to participate remotely. Maybe less than 10 people cancelled their participation because of this. So since it was already in the mixed format we had selected since January–early January, we signed the contract–a platform, which is called ibrida IO. The company who created this platform is specialised in running large events online. They are extraordinary professionals. This was a great part of the success that the remote 12th ICAANE had in front of the community of participants is largely due to their technology.

16:24  NM

At the same time, I need to praise the commitment of the research team of younger scholars from Bologna University, who really believed in, because you need some degree of personal commitment which goes beyond obligations. I mean, they believed that something good can come out of this. And finally the community, the chairs. We selected non-conventionally, perhaps younger chairs, because it was a bit technological how to run these sessions and moderating the chats and so ever. But the community reacted beautifully. They studied the emails, which we sent them about how to operate, because of course the platform is where you participate. And you switch so easily from one session to another. And then you communicate, you charge, you pose questions. But when you broadcast you have to connect to another, separate, different platform. And that’s where the instructions to the community were needed. And the community complied perfectly.

16:24  NM

The technicians of ibrida were there to explain people what to do. But you can imagine we had 15 rooms running in parallel every day, from morning to evening. All the people, for example, in the American continent, they asked to speak in the afternoon. So I mean, we were attentive to this. So this mass of people in these many rooms, all the day, people so much, it was seamless that it just worked out perfectly. Because of these three factors, let me tell you: because of the professionality {= professionalism} of the technicians; because of this team of young scholars, moderating whatever it needed to be moderated; and finally, the community which was just outstanding in its response. So the three together created a very successful remote event.

16:24  NM

Basically we went beyond our rosiest hopes. There were some glitches, of course, especially the first day after the plenary session in the morning, on Tuesday, the first in the afternoon, we had some difficulties in the very first papers, just because people needed to get to the Tuesday and when we repeated those papers on Friday. And the most important thing, at least for me, but I think for my colleagues as well–we love this–starting the same evening of each day recordings were available on the platform–are still available on the platform. And so in a normal ICAANE, if you have 15 parallel sessions, you attend one lecture, you miss 14. Because of the recordings now, people had and still have the chance to listen at all the papers they’re interested in. And this is an incredible opportunity that we were not having before and we’re having now. So this, this is a very positive development.

16:24  NM

If I might add, starting next week, we will give free access to all the students and teachers that will register on the platform, so they can access cutting edge research on the heritage suggesting to Middle Eastern students, they can now almost in real time participate to the debate, to a discussion, be informed of cutting edge research on their own heritage in the first place. So this is something that is so important to enlarge the basis of our studies, to enlarge awareness, to raise it and disseminate in circles. I am already in contact with professors from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq. We’re ready to register their students in. I think by 19th of April, this will be possible. And then they will remain accessible the videos until the 15th of May. So there is one month, let’s say, in which people can watch to these videos which are papers.

16:24  NM

And then we are going to publish the proceedings in golden open access in two years, hopefully, thanks to the support what we found at Harrassowitz, the publisher, also of most previous ICAANEs. The two plenary sessions, the opening plenary session, and the closing plenary session, are available on our Orient Lab YouTube channel. By the way, there are also some artistic events in the opening session. So people might be more interested than usual in having a look.

23:17  JT

You mentioned there some of the successes of this ICAANE. Which of the things that we’ve seen this year do you think will become part of the new normal?

23:25  NM

Yes, I think enlarging the base of attendance, both in real time or just after. It’s something that we need to think of for the future. It will be up to the future organisers of ICAANE, but the possibility of having the videos at the end of the same day, but also for some time on the web will enormously enhance the advancement of science, because it will broaden the dissemination. So this, this is something that I suppose we will not so prescient last year, but now it looks like it’s something that will stay with our community for the next scientific endeavours.

24:07  NM

At the same time, it is clear I think even in teaching in education, there won’t be 100% return to the previous standards, remote classes somehow will never go away. I know that they will stay in some form, to some extent. But It’s unthinkable just to go to the status quo of one year ago. Because the advantages are too great, simply too great. At the ICAANE we had an historic possibility. In the past, this also happened, but not to the same scale. I mean, we had around a virtual table twelve Directors General of antiquities and cultural heritage from all the counties of the Near East, almost all of the countries in the Near East. So from Turkey to Oman, from Iran to Cyprus and Lebanon, Palestine, they were all there. Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, of course, even Egypt.

25:04  NM

It was an extraordinary opportunity to hear about the needs, the problems, the requests of these countries. They told researchers what is required to carry out research in their own countries; what are their hopes and expectations? It’s just amazing what we heard from them. The presentation, even from the Director General of Antiquities from Lebanon, for example, about the situation in Beirut centre after the blast last August was really terrible moving somehow. And you can imagine the situation in Iraq or Syria, it’s a nightmare. So international cooperation now is more needed than ever. And these countries, they told very openly, what they would expect from the international community. And hearing this directly from the decision makers, at the same time, I mean, the highest representatives in cultural policy for their countries was, I think, very beneficial to all the community. It’s hard to imagine it, that it could have happened, if not in this virtual environment. So there is an expansion of possibilities.

26:13  NM

We are very happy in Bologna {LAUGHS} that we passed this. For the last three years the ICAANE was with us. Now, of course, we will take care of the proceedings. Now, I think, especially for the younger team who dedicated themselves for an incredibly long time, they might have some rest now.

26:33  JT

Thank you very much.

26:34  NM

Thank you.

26:43  JT

Hello, and welcome to Thin End of the Wedge. Thank you for joining us.

26:48  IT

Thank you and hello.

26:50  JT

Could you tell us please: who are you, and what do you do?

26:54  IT

I’m Ingolf Thuesen. I’m a professor of archaeology at the University of Copenhagen. And my speciality is in the ancient Near Eastern archaeology. And I’ve been working as an archaeologist in the Middle East for quite a while now. So I always end up in this position as being the chairman of the International Scientific Committee of this conference of ancient Near Eastern archaeology.

27:17  JT

The ICAANE is an international conference, but it has always taken place in Europe. Could you explain something about the thinking behind that, please?

27:27  IT

Yeah, it’s a good question. As I understand, it’s mainly due to logistics. The ICAANE when it started 23 years ago only had 100 / 150 participants the first time. And then actually, the second time, it was suddenly 400. And then it took momentum and increased in size to now it’s around 1,000 participants. So we’re in a situation where we have very few possibilities for venues when we are so many people. It takes a really large institution and organised and well-funded institution to do it. So you might expect that there’s a lot of places want to have this congress. But really, it’s not easy to find a place. So it has been traditionally the very established institutions in European universities that became the host of the conference.

28:17  IT

The situation the Middle East has been very complicated, due to many conflicts during the past 20 years. It has been so difficult to find a place; even we discussed this opportunity many times if we could do it somewhere in the Middle East. I personally would love to have in the Middle East when possible. We also need to have a conference where we all can participate. We try to avoid to pay attention to all kinds of borders, political or religious, or ethnic or whatever could turn up. We have to pay attention to the situation in the region also. But I hope one day in the future, we can open it up to conference somewhere in the Middle East.

28:55  JT

You’re the host of the next ICAANE in 2023 in Copenhagen. We’ve all been thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of in-person and virtual conferences. Could you give us an idea of what the next ICAANE might look like?

29:11  IT

Yeah, it will be an on-site conference again, we hope. {LAUGHS} And we should be through all the pandemics at that time. Planning such a conference takes many, many months, perhaps years or so. The important is that it gets its own identity. So we tried to locate some themes that we suggest people approach for the conference. Normally, of course, it must be a forum where you can go and present your excavations. A major part of this congress is that you simply give your field reports and that’s always there. So that’s something we never touch, even must have a place, because that’s the idea of the ICAANE–that we can meet across all these things borders we see in Near Eastern archaeology.

29:56  IT

But then also we have some topics that we suggest from our side that we would like to emphasize at our venue in the University of Copenhagen. So they want to try to become a green university. Then sustainability is a very important issue in Copenhagen. And I have personally an idea that near eastern archaeology has a lot to contribute to understanding sustainability, because we can give a very long perspective … time perspective … to developments. For instance, the climate change. For archaeologists, climate change is a natural thing, because we know for 10,000 or 100,000 years the climate changed all the time. But the interesting we can also say, what’s happened when people start to farm? Or how does that contribute to climate change? And there, I think, modern science, it’s very much focused on these sustainability goals, followed by the United Nations. If we go in and try to focus on that, as archaeologists work and see back 100,000 years of time, then you might come up with some situations or results that can contribute to solve the challenges we have today for modern society. So that’s my hope. That’s my naive hope–that the world will see that we have an opportunity for them from the Middle East to go back in time, maybe a million years. What does it mean with the human interaction with nature?

31:13  IT

And the second major theme for Copenhagen will be inclusion. And that has to do with some projects, we have had where we, due to the many tragic conflicts in the Middle East, we were looking at the threats to heritage. Because I see archaeology as a part of that heritage strategy in some way. It’s an inherited activity, they go down and analyse the past, see what’s left from our ancestors.

29:11  IT

When we then look at threats to heritage in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, due to the war in Iraq and Turkey, due to the development work and construction work–building of dams, for instance, we experienced that a major problem was not only the legal system right now who can stop wars or conflict or prevent the destruction of heritage. There was more to it, it was more about the local people that we were working with, when we are out in the fields. We often are sitting out in the countryside, close to a small village where we typically would live and have our camp. And then we excavate this site together with our colleagues from the department of antiquities of this country we’re working in. There, it’s very, very important, I think, that we include those local people in a way so they learn to understand and appreciate the heritage they have. Because they need to learn to be proud of their history, particularly in an area like the Middle East, which belongs to this belt of civilisation that starts in China and ends at the Mediterranean. And we have a big challenge to engage and include local people down on … on the floor–field level, so to say. Because if they understand the value, as we understand, or as the minister of culture of whatever country understands it, then perhaps they will also protect it in case of a conflict. Or also when they have negotiated developments.

31:40  IT

Also, another thing was here in the past 10 years, due to the war in Syria, we received in Europe a lot of refugees from Syria. I think we can include in some way in our society when they live and stay in Denmark as they do today, by talking to them, discussing the heritage they came from–the Syrian heritage. Because we know it as archaeologists. So there’s also something about including expats from the Middle East that for certain reasons had to leave their home. And that’s another way of making inclusion, so that we start to use this very high potential that is in the archaeology of the Middle East, because of all the civilisation history and everything. It’s so rich in archaeology. And really use this as turning into an international discipline that we all share and all appreciate. And that will be including people, not only our colleagues as archaeologists, not only decision makers and cultural ministers, but also local people living close to these spectacular monuments of the past.

34:10  JT

I’d like to follow up on these two themes of the environment and inclusion, please. Among the common criticisms of the traditional style of conference are things like the environmental costs of gathering so many people together, or the fact that it can be a lot more difficult for some of us to attend conferences than others, because of financial pressures or visa issues or a dozen other reasons.

34:35  JT

Nicolò explained this fantastic initiative to release recordings of all the lectures and to publish the proceedings fully open access. I think that’s important not just on a practical level, but also on a symbolic one. Because it shows the big change is possible quite quickly, when the will is there. Opening access to the results of research like that is obviously incredibly important. But it’s also important to improve access when it comes to active participation in the conference itself in the first place. And on the dissemination side, we need to do much better at making research available in a format relevant for people in the Middle East. Would you be able to say a little bit more about those two topics, please, from an ICAANE perspective?

35:23  IT

Yeah, sure. Because it has been my concern all the time that how do we include the people that do not have the same opportunities as we have when we come from our part of the world. And it is a problem. But I’m, I’m very happy to see how the ICAANE is developing. I feel it’s getting younger and younger. It’s not only, because I’m getting older, but it’s really getting younger. So we have a very huge contribution from junior scholars, PhDs, and even graduate students sometimes that they go there. But of course, it’s very expensive for people from the region, from the Middle East, to travel to Europe.

35:58  IT

So one thing I do my best in Copenhagen–that is to try to raise enough funding, so people can apply for grants to support buying a flight ticket or whatever, how they want to travel to Copenhagen, and stay in Copenhagen. Also by including, for instance, our students of archaeology, say: can you help the fellow juniors from other countries? That’s one way of doing it. And also, we can try to keep the costs low. For instance, not having a very expensive participation fee for being in Copenhagen, and help with making cheap meals accessible. I think it’s very important. And I really want to have as many as possible from the region.

36:39  IT

And then if they can’t go, I think then as you said, Nicolò made a brilliant solution by recording all the sessions. And now we have them available for one month. That is, of course, for the academic society. But for many students of archaeology also in the Middle East, in the region, they also have this access now. Actually, I’ve been using some of these presentation in my own teaching in the past week, because there are some papers that are really up to date on the topics that I’m supposed to teach. This presentations are more important than what I would say. So that’s one way of doing it.

37:16  IT

And then you asked about dissemination. And how we can use this to an outreach to the population in the Middle East, who would be better to understand the value of the heritage. I think that can best be done on site in the field By including these kinds of things, or education activities, in an archaeological project. So in the future, when I plan a fieldwork somewhere in the Middle East, there should be a part of it is how do we include? How do we train? How do we educate schoolchildren from that area, in their heritage, in the archaeology of where they live. And the other way, was what I said before, that I think we can reach many refugees in Denmark that come from that area. And maybe one day, they can return to a peaceful home, and then come back with some more knowledge that we could offer them. That’s very important. And I think that is the future of the discipline. That is when we can start to educate other people than ourselves as professional archaeologists.

38:27  JT

What do you think the future might hold for ICAANE?

38:31  IT

Hmm, I’ve been thinking a lot about that personally. Because I’m mostly working with the past, not the future. Of course, the past also presages(?) of the future. And how I feel it going today, that it’s become this very big event every second year. And I think if we can get better in solving these challenges you just mentioned about including more people, not only archaeologists or students of archaeology or the younger generation from the Middle East, but also the non-professionals, then it has a good meaning. We have to work on that. And that’s why we need to have all the time for ICAANE a heritage component. We will not only share our academic achievements, our results, but also talk about how do we disseminate this, how do we include everyone. I think it should be a future component of ICAANE. And then it will make good sense and we also have to discuss it into an international context.

39:34  IT

And we have to show the world that there’s a reason why Middle Eastern archaeology is extremely important, because it contributes so much to world history. And that we also have a chance to tell the rest of the world that this is not a small thing. It’s really big and important. For instance, I have a few students in Copenhagen that studies near eastern archaeology. There are many students studying Danish prehistory or Danish archaeology. So the students I have they think we are a very, very small discipline. And we are very few people. And I said “why don’t you go to ICAANE? Then you’ll see what’s largest”. You cannot have a conference on Danish archaeology with 1,000 participants, because there’s not 1,000 people to participate. So that’s interesting. We have to realise that that’s the situation. We are really dealing with an important aspect of world history, or archaeology. That must be part of the future way of doing the ICAANEs. We’ll see.

40:35  IT

But I like this kind of not so formalised structure where we are a small international committee that makes sure that there’s a venue after two years. Now, we have to find out what happens after Copenhagen. Should it be somewhere in the Middle East? Somewhere else or in London or wherever? We just have to make sure that the venue is stable enough and good enough and can take in everybody. It’s also very important that there’s funding. It’s not a simple thing to have an ICAANE. You’ve probably heard that from Nicolò and Adelheid as well.

41:10  JT

Thank you very much.

41:11  IT

Yeah. You’re welcome. Yeah.

41:15  JT

I’d also like to thank our patrons Tyler Russell, Enrique Jimenez, Haider al-Rekabi, Jana Matuszak, Nancy Highcock, Jay C, Rune Rattenborg, Woodthrush, Elisa Rossberger, Mark Weeden, Jordi Mon Companys, Thomas Bolin, Joan Porter MacIver, John MacGinnis, Andrew George, Yelena Rakic, Michael Katsevman, Mend Mariwany, Kathryn Topper, Zach Rubin, Sabina Franke, Sophus Helle, Shai Gordon, Aaron Macks, Jonathan Stökl, Maarja Seire, Jaafar Jotheri, Morgan Hite, and Chikako Watanabe. I really appreciate your support. It makes a big difference.

42:06  JT

And thank you for listening to Thin End of the Wedge. If you enjoy what we do, please consider supporting us via Patreon. That’s patreon.com/wedgepod. Even a couple of pounds a month helps keep the podcast going and brings us closer to the point where we can make proper translations into Middle Eastern languages. You can also support us in other ways: simply subscribe to the podcast; leave us a five star review on iTunes or your podcatcher of choice; recommend us to your friends; follow us on Twitter: @wedge_pod. If you want the latest podcast news, you can sign up for our newsletter. You can find all the links in the show notes and on our website at wedgepod.org. Thanks, and I hope you’ll join us next time.