The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) is the oldest organization in North America devoted to the studying and disseminating knowledge about archaeology. In many ways, it’s similar to the Biblical Archaeology Society (BAS) and American School of Oriental Research (ASOR). All three pursue relatively similar goals, release beautiful magazines, and organize annual meetings that include poster sessions and book sales. The major difference between the three organizations is that ASOR and BAS tend to focus mainly on the archaeology of ancient Near East, whereas AIA is inclusive of all times and regions from around the world. Articles on modern sites from Europe and the US aren’t uncommon for the AIA’s popular Archaeology magazine.
I first learned about AIA back in grad school, which was roughly five years ago. I was researching different conference opportunities when I accidentally came across the name and found out that it would have the annual meeting in Toronto in 2017. Back then, it seemed so far away, only that the time went by so quickly.
Like most people, I wanted to start off this year on the right foot. One of my new year’s resolutions was to start attending more lectures and cultural events. There was no better way for me to begin 2017 than by attending the AIA Annual Meeting that was held at Sheraton Center Toronto Hotel between January 5 and 8.
Naturally, I couldn’t attend all the lectures, as many of them ran simultaneously. However, I was fortunate hear talks about the sites of Omri and Huqoq in northern Israel, a few Persian and Mesopotamian sites, and the site of Tel Tayinat in southern Turkey. I also met Dr. Jodi Magness, a distinguished professor specializing in early Judaism who is also the principal director of the Huqoq Excavation Project. She had published a number of articles and books on archaeology of the Holy Land.
The book sale and poster session that ran throughout the meeting were awesome. Even though I didn’t end up buying too many items, it felt nice to just walk through rows and rows of beautifully designed books published by the world’s leading academic presses like Oxford, Princeton, and Cambridge. While roaming through the hall, I ran into Dr. Andrew Vaughan, the director of the ASOR’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives (CHI), an organization where I currently volunteer as an indexer. He was very happy to see me, and after a brief conversation, I was allowed to take sample journals from the ASOR. Now I have a pile of articles to read on topics, ranging from archaeology of Cyprus to issues surrounding heritage preservation. I’m hoping to start reading them soon.
On the very last day of the meeting, I attended a pottery drawing workshop by Tina Ross, a Canadian archaeology illustrator. Although I don’t plan to pursue archaeology any time soon, I found the session fun and informative. Sometimes, you just have to allow yourself immerse yourself into things you enjoy the most. For me it’s the study of our past with all its discoveries and enigmas that I find inspiring. I use archaeology in my writing extensively, and as a member of the CHI, I’ll never stop believing in a brighter future for the field.