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The European Association of Archaeologists Conference takes off in Valletta
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The annual conference of European Association of Archaeologists took off at the Old University Building in Valletta, yesterday evening. Some 600 delegates, all members of the EAA, hail from practically every European country, as well as from the USA. The conference is being organized by the University of Malta and Heritage Malta.

With participants being practitioners in diverse areas of archaeological study, the conference provides an excellent opportunity for networking. Academics from the University of Malta as well as representatives and curators from Heritage Malta are participating.

In her opening address, the Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, the Hon. Dolores Cristina, referred to the Valletta Convention, of which Malta is a signatory. 'This Convention aims to protect archaeological heritage as a source of Europe’s collective memory and as an instrument for historical and scientific study. This is an aim that Malta cannot but support since we have our own rich archaeological heritage, which is so intricately linked and embedded in the public conscience,' the Minister said. 'Aware as it is of this archaeological wealth, the Government of Malta has striven over the years to do all it could to preserve what is not just its national patrimony but, indeed, the world’s patrimony.'

The Minister also remarked that Government recognised the role of archaeology, not just in education but also in promoting cultural heritage generally, and saw this as conducive to the formation of a solid national identity within a larger Mediterranean and specifically European identity.

Minister Cristina referred to the great strides made in the area of Heritage Management, especially in the past six years since the enactment of the Heritage Act. These developments were also possible thanks to the existing pool of personnel who had been professionally trained over the years in various subjects, including Archaeology, at the University of Malta, and were available for employment in this field, she pointed out.

As from October 2006, the Institute of Conservation and Management of Cultural Heritage within Heritage Malta, in collaboration with the University of Malta and MCAST, introduced a post-graduate degree programme in Management of Cultural Heritage.

The University of Malta Rector, Professor Juanito Camilleri noted that the participant list of this very prestigious event read like a 'Who's Who' of archaeology in Europe with delegates from the top universities and institutions from the United Kingdom to Romania and from Russia to Italy.

Prof. Camilleri remarked that each set of people who ruled our island had left a mark however that mark was not indelible but needed to be nurtured both from a physical point of view and from a sociological one.  'The University of Malta has, since its inception, provided and continues to provide, in the true spirit of tertiary education, an universitas of disciplines. Archaeology is an important part of that universitas and has a unique role in the development of questions of identity filling those gaps in the annals of man that History proper cannot fill,' the University of Malta Rector pointed out.

Archaeology imparts skills that are applicable to other areas of life and is therefore part of a rounded and joined-up education. It is an enriching field of study in every way.

This conference provided an excellent opportunity to bring Malta and its heritage to the knowledge of so many archaeologists.

The aims of the EAA, as set out in its statute, are focussed on promoting research and the exchange of archaeological information; the promotion of our European archaeological heritage and of ethical and scientific standards; the promotion of the interests of professional archaeologists and cooperation with other organisations with similar aims.  

The Opening Ceremony was also addressed by Prof. Anthony Harding, President of the EAA, Prof. Anthony Bonanno, Head of Department of Classics and Arheology of the University of Malta, who gave a keynote speech 'Maltese Archeology: What Future?', and Mr Joseph Said, Chairman Heritage Malta.

During the Opening Ceremony Prof. Willem Willems, Chairmain of the EAA Heritage Prize Committee presented the Annual Heritage Prize to Jean Paul Demoule from Universite de Paris, France.

EAA Conference 2008

l to r: Ms Patricia Camilleri Meeting Coordinator, Mr Joseph Said, Chairman Heritage Malta, The Hon. Dolores Cristina, Prof Juanito Camilleri, Rector UoM, Prof. Anthony Harding, President EAA, Prof. Anthony Bonanno, Head of Dept. of Classics and Archeology UoM

EAA Conference 2008

EAA Conference 2008
Minister Cristina awarding the Annual Heritage Prize to Jean Paul Demoule, as Juanito Camilleri, Willem Willems, Chairmain of the EAA Heritage Prize Committee, and Anthony Bonanno look on in the background.

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