I presented two papers – one on Covid-19 and commercial archaeology in Scotland (updating the paper Andy Heald and I wrote in 2020) and another about the difference between Big Data and lots of data. In addition to those two sessions, I enjoyed taking part in a valuable discussion about ethics (including reference to RPA Code and Standards), which followed a session on archaeological standards.
There was one outstanding, remarkable piece of news being shared at the conference, that some delegates may have missed the importance of. There was an information card in everyone’s conference bags about procurement for SuedLink, followed by a paper by Holger Schweizer of Jacobs, which – in terms of its significance for archaeological practice – may have been the most important presentation at EAA for years.
SuedLink will change the way that archaeology is delivered in Germany. The project will facilitate the construction of an enormous underground high-voltage cable connection, covering 700km from the North Sea to Bavaria and Baden-Württemburg in the south. There are already 1,700 known sites on the route, which goes through seven different Länder; which is going to mean previously parochial local government offices will have to work in partnership to manage fieldwork consistently along the entire line – and it means there is an enormous opportunity for commercial archaeology across Germany to come of age, as hundreds of millions of Euro are ready to be invested in procuring this work.
The widely held feeling was that it was such a relief to be able to meet in person again, particularly after the chaos of the 2020 virtual meeting (with its unintentionally ironic tagline of #networking), which was followed by the underattended and unimpactful online 2021 meeting; although the hybrid sessions didn’t work perfectly. Being able to talk directly to colleagues about their work and to find opportunities to collaborate reinforced the purpose of having and attending conferences.