Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Seminar for Arabian Studies

Last week's Seminar for Arabian Studies was successful, at least from my perspective. I'm at a point in my career in which I still get excited when people are enthusiastic about and interested in my research, such as asking me about what I'm going to say if they have to leave before my session or saying they showed up Saturday morning just to hear my paper. I also think I presented fairly well, in what was my first adventure with powerpoint.

One element I noticed in the two days of the conference I attended was the way technology is changing the way archaeological projects and presentations are conceived and implemented. Google Earth was everywhere, and people were able to provide much better images of sites and their surroundings than in the days of simple photography. The availability of that and other forms of satellite imagery is also allowing for greater precision in projects across wide areas, such as a comprehensive classification and mapping of all the tens of thousands of burial mounds in Bahrain and a nearby peninsula of Saudi Arabia. And incidentally, the person doing this has still never been to Bahrain, simply because he can get most of it done just from remote imaging.

It was also a conference with a pretty friendly crowd, as usual. Another grad student commented to me that during the three days her first year she got gradually passed around to all the leading lights of the field, something which paralleled by own experience last year. Among the regulars, there also seem to be certain common traditions, such as the importance of Korean food followed by the consumption of beverages at The Plough until after midnight. Archaeologists also tend to have better stories than do historians =)

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