By Leah Puletama
Controversy abounds in this issue of Dig It, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bit of controversy? The President’s message opens with a very positive view of the Society, ‘known as a group of students without parallels to be found in any other similarly focused student body in Australia’ (Richards 1998:2), a lofty self assessment indeed.
The Editorial does not share the Presidential assessment and questions are raised about the decision for the Society to assist ‘select members from the society to attend conferences’ (Saeki et al. 1998:2). Balancing spending money with raising money, as well as satisfying a diverse membership, isn’t always easy and is a continuing issue in any group.
The two articles on the National Archaeology Students Conference (Stankowski 1998:10; May and Richards 1998:11), or NASC, are timely for current students and recent graduates. I suggest you take note of that acronym, since we are in the preliminary stages of NASC planning for 2014. Some of you may also notice familiar names in the Flinders delegation.
Finally, the Letter to the Editor (Anon 1998:19), again questions the NASC funding decision of the Society. Hopefully, as the host University, this may be one controversy we will be able to avoid. Happy reading.
Anonymous 1998 Letter to the Editor. Dig It: Newsletter of the Flinders Archaeological Society 5:19.
May, S. and N. Richards 1998 National Archaeology Students Conference. Dig It: Newsletter of the Flinders Archaeological Society 5:11.
Richards, N. 1998 President’s Message. Dig It: Newsletter of the Flinders Archaeological Society 5:2.
Saeki, P., C. De Leiuen and C. Duncan 1998 Editorial. Dig It: Newsletter of the Flinders Archaeological Society 5:2.
1998 has been a successful albeit different year in the society’s history. We have seen for instance a greater emphasis on the archaeological side of the coin with a concentration on making ourselves known nationally.
By December of this year members of our society will have attended the majority of major archaeological conferences in Australia in 1998. We can now justify ourselves in the belief that we are known as a group of students without parallels to be found in any other similarly focused student body in Australia. The experience of these events to all involved will have long-standing benefits personally and professionally.
Despite some criticism, I still believe that the decision to send a large body of students to a National Archaeology Students conference was a good move. The networks that were set up for individuals and for the society as a whole are already starting to be seen with requests for articles to be submitted to the newsletters and publications of other Archaeology Societies interstate. Although a major goal of our exodus to Canberra in September of hosting the conference was not achieved, the possibility of the society hosting our own Archaeology conference is something that I personally think is worthwhile. Such a commitment is undoubtedly huge and really only requires a group of hard working and dedicated individuals willing to give it a go (and a little bit of money of course). It must also be remembered that the good publicity we have gained for ourselves we have also gained for our University and department. This is something that we can pat ourselves on the back for. The society continues to be an asset to and effective ambassador for the Archaeology department, not only because of our support of events such as the ‘DigBox’ but also our contributions in making Archaeology at Flinders University seen to be productive, worthwhile as well as entertaining. The fact that the society took on the responsibility of organising and carrying out a teaching excavation is something that proves our commitment to the furthering of our University as a major centre for the study of archaeology in Australia.
On a purely social level the society has also accomplished much, with record attendance to the Annual Society Dinner and the Annual Society Barbecue. All of our other social events, have additionally been successful with good attendance to our other barbeques, the Inferno Band night, the Honours and postgraduate dinner and Pub- Crawl.
I would like to thank all of those people who have gone out of their way to attend our events this year. It must be said that these are the people who have singlehandedly created all of our successes in 1998.
The archaeology society, last seen/heard of 1998?
The year kicked off strongly with a broad membership on campus and plenty of capital and resources for new and exciting ventures. 1997 was a very good year for the society in terms of student involvement, increased membership and generating capital through fund raisers, the establishment of annual social events such as the ‘Digger’s Plate’ (against F.U. Palaeontology) and the development of ‘Dig It’. Much of the momentum that was generated in 1997 flowed onto the first semester 1998 carrying the society into the new year.
What happened after that?
The editors aren’t entirely sure. Meetings were not well advertised and apparently there were over zealous handouts of society money (over $1,000) to fund select members from the society to attend conferences (the outcomes of which are in this publication). It was decided by the current incumbents that the ‘Digger’s Plate’ be either scrapped or a ‘tennis ball’ cricket match be played in a local park instead. The outcry of scrapping the ‘Digger’s Plate’ resounded amongst the rank and file who thought the idea was ‘rank’. The primary reason for this was largely due to financial problems within the society, as most of the capital generated in 1997 and funding grants from Clubs and Societies went on financing the student conference trips. There was barely enough money in the bank to put this issue of ‘Dig It’ together, let alone the review issue due to come out in February of 1999. But fortunately the cricket match is still on, thanks to a small but determined number of members forcing it through, even though some committee members had decided to ‘wash their hands’ of involvement.
The lack of fund raising activities of the current incumbents, contrasted to their level of expenditure is the major point of criticism on the behalf of the editors. While various advantages have been generated by showing a strong attendance at the conferences, it has placed the society in a much more difficult position for 1999 for the new president and committee.
Cherrie De Leiuen
National Archaeological Students Conference
This year marked the first National Archaeological Students conference held at the Australian National University from the 28th to the 30th of September. A large group of 18 people from Flinders attended this conference with some presenting papers. The conference was held so students could gain experience in presenting papers in an informal environment without the pressures of renowned academics shouting at them. It was hoped the experience gained would allow students to go on in the future to present papers elsewhere with greater confidence. The conference also highlighted the diverse range of topics researched by fellow students.
The conference was held in the highly exciting capital of pornography- Canberra, and while none of us go to see any porn (not for want of trying), we did all get to visit Parliament House (yeah). Other exciting places visited by Flinders students included the War Memorial, Telstra Tower, the Markets and quite a few dodgy bars, pubs and restaurants.
The organisation and effort put into the conference by the participating students and the volunteer committee was impressive. Each day was split into four sessions, featuring three to six speakers. These sessions were arranged around specific theme such as stone tools or skeletal analysis. Six students representing Flinders University- Cassandra Philippou, Simon Coote, Nathan Richards, Tim Owen, Phi Czerwinski and Stewart Gregory presented papers, with the award for best presentation (a six pack) going to Tim for his extraordinarily vibrant, last minute live action performance on gendered cranial deformity.
Two dinners were arranged as part of the conference for the students. One was an informal pizza night in the bar at ANU where the other students were badly beaten at drinking and pool playing. The other dinner was a more formal arrangement at a local Thai restaurant where Rhys Jones, the guest speaker, gave a highly informative and entertaining talk on archaeology today. After the meal, revelry continued at a bar conveniently located below our hotel, making it easy to stagger home after we beat the other universities at drinking again.
The conference was concluded with a plenary discussion where the details of next years conference venue was talked about. The possibility of Flinders holding a conference was raised and is still being debated.
While the other Flinders delegates left Canberra in the days after the conference, for the people in Nuggets car, that is, when things all went horribly wrong. On attempting to leave, the Budgie Bus had an absolute spit and both rear wheel bearings had to be replaced as well as the rear axle. This meant we had to stay in Canberra an extra two days and did not leave for the ASHA conference until the night before it started, but that trip is another story.
National Archaeological Students Conference
From the 28th – 30th September eighteen students of archaeology at all stages of their study at Flinders University participated in the inaugural National Archaeology Students conference hosted by the Australian National University in Canberra. The students in attendance were:
Karen Atherton, Kirsten Brett, Susan Briggs, Greg Carver, Simon Coote, Stewart Gregory, Katherine Henderson, Justine Hobbs, Andrew Hoffmann, Chris Langelluddecke, Sally May, Tim Owen, Adam Patterson, Cynthia Pearce, Cassandra Philippou, Nathan Richards, Katrina Stankowski, Jody Steele. Also in attendance was Flinders archaeology graduate Phil ‘Ski’.
The papers of the conference ranged from subjects such as “U2 and the potential of urban archaeology” to more ‘archaeological’ papers such as “The first stage rehabilitation of a family of gibbons”(!!!). In all 46 students from second year up presented papers including six from Flinders. Although Flinders did not win any of the major advertised prizes, Tim Owen won the auspicious ‘winging it’ prize of a six pack of tooheys blue for an impromptu foray into “artificial cranial deformation”. Flinders University students outnumbered other university’s students six to one and were widely commended for their enthusiasm in all aspects of conference ‘goings on’ (including the after hours entertainment).
The last session of the conference involved a discussion on the future of the National Students Conference. Though there was some disagreement on whether the conference should be moved and when it should be scheduled, most Flinders students agreed they learnt much from the experience and will most probably return to Canberra next year.
Sally May & Nathan Richards
Letter to the Editor
While I believe that sending a large delegate of students to the recent conferences in Canberra and Sydney was a great reflection of the society, the decision to reimburse these students however, was a poor one.
Surely these students all were volunteers, and most likely gained great experience by participating in or observing a conference. If these students could not afford to go, like many of us that could not, then it was not up to the society to pay for them.
Membership is $5, receiving $50 each from the society is certainly a good incentive for joining! Those members that made the decision to hand out this money should be accountable to the ten members of the society who paid their $5 to support one student to have a holiday.
It was also not a fair decision considering that two students, convening at another conference have to pay their own way to get to, stay at and register for this conference with no assistance from the society as there simply are not enough funds left.
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Look out for the next edition of ‘From the Dig It Archives’ on Wednesday the 5th of June!