CALL FOR PAPERS: Alcohol in the Ancient World

This sounds like an amazing conference! Consider submitting if you can.

Alcohol in the Ancient World
Conference Date: February 24th and February 25th, 2017
Conference Location: Penn Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Host: Center for Ancient Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Patrick McGovern, Penn Museum
Abstracts Due: December 1, 2016

The Center for Ancient Studies (CAS) calls for papers from graduate students in any discipline who are engaged in the study of alcohol in the pre-modern world. Beer, wine, and other fermented beverages have played an important role in the social, political, economic, and religious lives of humans for thousands of years. The embedded nature of alcohol in human societies makes it a productive locus for research on a wide range of topics. Possible subjects include the role of alcohol in:

•    Production technologies and techniques
•    Consumption practices and contexts
•    Visual and literary culture
•    Law
•    Medicine
•    The construction and negotiation of identity and gender
•    Trade and political economy
•    Ritual

Research on the prohibition of alcohol in pre-modern societies is also encouraged. This can be approached from a number of angles. Who is prohibited and why? When and where do these prohibitions apply? What do they entail? How are they enforced and how are they circumvented?

Applications should include a title and an abstract of no more than 250 words that summarizes the work, identifies the methodology, and states the primary conclusions. CAS encourages interdisciplinary research that utilizes multiple sources of evidence, including material culture, texts, iconography, experimental and ethnographic studies, and archaeometry. Send all materials to with the subject heading CAS Abstract: APPLICANT NAME. Please include your affiliation in the body of the email. All applicants will be notified of the status of their paper by the middle of December.

You can also find the CFP online at the CAS website:

SAA 2014 Highlights

Austin, TX -- Scene of most recent archaeo-gathering

Austin, TX — Scene of most recent archaeo-gathering

Last week, many of our SEAC Underground contributors were in Austin for the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. To my infinite sadness, I was not among them (though, on the plus side, I got to volunteer on the Cane River Archaeological Project instead, taking advantage of the kind of perfect spring weather that I am fairly convinced only exists in the Blue Ridge Mountains). But, to my infinite gladness, archaeologists harnessed the power of social media, so I was able to follow along with some sessions from many many miles away. Thanks to everyone who tweeted away and tagged the heck out of #SAA2014, #southeastarch, and (most endearingly) #bigdirty.

Now that you’re back, anyone want to elaborate on your favorite paper/poster/session? What really stood out to you, and what do this year’s SAAs tell us about current and future directions in archaeology, especially in the Southeast? Please post in the comments!

And, if you are looking for some reading material, take a gander at Blogging Archaeology, a free e-book that debuted at an SAA session on blogging in archaeology. We at SEAC Underground will be taking a close look at this as we strategize the evolution of this blog in the coming months. Thanks to Doug Rocks-Macqueen, Chris Webster, and all the contributors for giving us so much to think about!

Blogging Archaeology e-book = rad

Blogging Archaeology e-book = rad


Images from Wikimedia Commons, Doug’s Archaeology.

When you type “how to organize an academic conference” into Google…


…you are given the option to search “how to organize an acapella group.”  Obviously, this discovery can lead down a fairly precipitous link-clicking rabbit hole… but I digress.

In the last couple of days, I’ve been amazed, encouraged, and humbled by the online conversations that have emerged from Shane’s post about recent changes to the SEAC submission process. Via email, on Facebook, and in the comments on this blog, all sorts of folks are mobilizing for the improvement of SEAC, in no small  part because it is an organization that, generally and only-slightly-hyperbolically, is beloved by its membership. While Matt sparked some debate about ways to improve the quality of papers submitted to the conference, it seems to me that the issue that started the whole discussion – limits on the number of papers one can submit as a non-first author – could initially be addressed by improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the conference organization process.   Fortunately, in A.D. 2013, technology could help us out on this front.

Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I do not consider myself to be especially tech-savvy, at least for someone who came of age alongside the internet. As a result, I might not fully appreciate the  logistical or financial challenges in implementing some of the ideas below; in reality, they might be more trouble than they are worth. But, taking Matt’s lead, I hope this will spark conversations that will render us all better prepared to make substantive proposals for change.  So, just spitballin’ here…

(1) Conference planning software: According to Google, such programs exist. No idea about their cost/utility, but if creating a program in which a first author is not scheduled for two papers simultaneously is a major hurdle, then maybe such software could help. Given the perceived increase in collaboration among the younger generation of southeastern archaeologists (see Shane’s post), attempting to avoid all overlaps for second, third, or fourth authors might be unfeasible no matter what, but making sure that no one is slated to read in two places at once is surely doable if people are limited to one or two first-author submissions (note – not necessarily easy, but at least doable).

(2) Delegating through Google drive: My quick and dirty Google recon led me to some advice and reflections from conference organizers that all emphasized the importance of teamwork in the planning process. All that said, in my experience, much-lauded “teamwork” can easily devolve into “herding cats” if delegation isn’t managed through fairly constant feedback. To that end, future conference planners might find it useful to work collaboratively on something like Google Drive, which can track their contributions to planning materials as they are completed. This might also be a viable tool for session organizers and participants – if groups of presenters can have an easier time getting their ducks are in a row, it seems like organizers would also benefit.

(3) Digital conference materials: Shane and I both mentioned this earlier but I think this might be one of the quickest/easiest/best-bang-for-our-buck changes we could institute for SEAC. Could we give members the ability to opt out of receiving a paper program (perhaps just a box to click during registration) in favor a digital program they could access on their tablets, smartphones, computers, etc.? Of course, a shift like that isn’t for everyone, but some might actually prefer this option. Plus, it could reduce printing costs, and it would be hella green.

Certainly, there are other possibilities – please, propose them in the comments! As we keep this ball rolling, it might also be worth considering how else we can use 21st century tech and connectivity to improve the SEAC experience beyond the conference planning stages. Anyone up for live-tweeting in Tampa? (Full disclosure – I barely know what twitter is, but still, I think this could be an interesting SEAC Underground initiative…)