Society for American Archaeology–Superb!
- Thursday, 07 April 2011 12:01
Every year when we attend the SAA it’s always a shot in the arm, a kick in the… well, you know. Call it a great time that massages the intellectual, the spiritual, and provides a motivational high. The meetings also feed the need for companionship–the kind that comes from sitting with old friends and discussing the latest archaeological research, fascinating new finds, and where the discipline is headed. The only thing missing was Kathy.
She was back at the ranch wiping puppy pee off chair legs and cleaning carpets. Oh, and finishing the final revisions to the third book in the Iroquois quartet, THE BROKEN LAND, A People of the Longhouse Novel.
Mike, however, took in some marvelous sessions on prehistoric Southwestern agriculture, on Great Basin paleoarchic, on buried Chaco-era sites in the San Juan River bottoms, and on burials in the Midwest. In all he came home with thirty some pages of notes. All of which had to be reread for Kathy. Jake, the puppy, started out listening intently, then went to sleep. Perhaps not all individuals get a high out of uncalibrated radiocarbon dates?
But then, not all of us pee on chair legs, either.
Mike’s forum on archaeological fiction was a blast! Initially worried that the 6:00 pm time frame was a killer (most archaeologists at these meetings eat about then) we had eighty some people in the sesssion. Sponsored by Linda Scott Cummings of Paleoresearch Associates, we had thoughtful comments by Dr. David Anderson, Dr. John Whittaker, Dr. Laura Scheiber, and even SAA president, Dr. Meg Conkey.
David, bless you for fixing Mike’s slides into your Powerpoint presentation. Buying you dinner and beer was well worth it! And the companionship was also great.
We’re used to having our own work reviewed. Fans vent or rave on Amazon and B&N.com, and we suffer the scrutiny of New York Journal Review of Books, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and other industry stalwarts. We don’t always get an analysis of the genre from professional archaeologists. Having the input of so many thoughtful archaeologists created an opportunity to look at fiction in prehistory through a different lens. As we all know, changing lens changes perspectives. By the end of the forum, the consensus was that more archaeologists need to be writing fiction. The biggest problem is that most novelists are not archaeologists, and conversely, those archaeologists attempting fiction, are not novelists. Either way you approach the task involves research and hard work.
And the single most salient observation in the session was made by Dr. Conkey: “Good prehistoric fiction asks the same kinds of questions that good archaeology does.”
We can’t wait for next year!