IT Sligo organisers of a major international archaeology conference later this month have lined up Professor Mike Parker Pearson, one of Britain’s leading Stonehenge experts, as a keynote speaker. The “Archaeology of Gatherings”, a public event, is aimed at understanding the psychological and sociological significance of gatherings in people’s lives, not just in the past but also the present.
Professor Parker Pearson (pictured right) is widely respected for research and publications that have reshaped our understanding of Stonehenge, Britain’s most famous prehistoric site, with its complex of associated monuments, and its links with the nearby Durrington Walls assembly site. He is known to television audiences through appearances on popular programmes such as ‘Time Team’, ‘Digging for Britain’ and ‘Secrets of the Stonehenge Skeletons’. The other keynote speaker is the celebrated Clark McPhail, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who will give an address on ‘The Life Course of Temporary Gatherings’
Twenty-one speakers, including participants from the USA, Britain, Norway and Ireland will take part in the conference to be held at the Institute of Technology Sligo on October 26th and 27th.
“We were stunned by the numbers of so many leading archaeologists and experts in various disciplines who responded to our call for potential speakers,” said Sam Moore, an Assistant Lecturer in Applied Archaeology at IT Sligo, who is one of the conference’s four co-organisers.
Professor Parker Pearson’s work at Stonehenge has shed new light on the nature of late Stone Age gatherings and large scale changes in society and culture that took place 5000-4500 years ago. He says “This should be a fascinating conference, bringing together experts in different subjects. There should be some real insights into the nature of gatherings past and present.”
Other conference contributions will span topics as diverse as the sociological aspects of football fans, the dynamics that fuel public protests, gatherings in ancient Ireland, parades in Northern Ireland and aspects of forced gathering within the Jewish Holocaust.
Sam Moore explained: “Newgrange is a great example of a gathering location, from before recorded history to the present day when many of us still gather there each December for the Winter solstice.
“The concept of ‘gathering’ is timeless but in most cases in prehistory the reason and dynamics for gathering are still shrouded in mystery. Archaeology and the increasing influence of scientific techniques such as those taught on the BSc Applied Archaeology at IT Sligo, are helping to demystify the past and continue to come up with some remarkable answers.”
The other organisers of the conference are Fiona Beglane, Bridget Brennan and Ursula Gardiner who are staff and students in Applied Archaeology in the Department of Environmental Science, at IT Sligo. It is Ireland’s only third level degree in which archaeology is taught as a science subject. The School of Science offers a 2 year higher certificate, 3 and 4 year BSc and BSc Honours degrees in Applied Archaeology, 2 year research masters and also PhDs.
More information, including Registration and ticket details, is available at: www.archaeologyofgatherings.com