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Spirited Debate and Southern Hospitality in Nashville

David G. Anderson and Kevin Smith

Get ready for the 1997 SAA Annual Meeting in Nashville, April 2-6. It promises to be one of the largest in SAA history -- second only to the New Orleans meeting last year. More than 1,200 sessions, including some 850 symposium papers (in almost 90 sessions) and another 400 contributed papers, join the usual wide array of workshops, forums, working groups, and roundtable luncheons that make the meeting so interesting.

The sessions this year focus on a broad variety of topics, including migration and colonization, craft specialization, the Terminal Classic Maya collapse, repatriation, landscape archaeology, Hopewellian archaeology, early Holocene European hunter-gatherers, political boundaries in Mesoamerica, phytolith analysis, rock art studies, seriation, the Glen Canyon dam project in retrospective, Mycenaean palaces, obsidian craft production, relationships between residential mobility and social organization, the archaeology of Indus cities, textile research, Mayan causeways, the Upper and Lower Creek archaeology and ethnohistory, curation concerns, Southeast Ceremonial Complex iconography, new directions in Caribbean prehistory, Mogollon pithouse variability, archaeological dating in the Americas, city-state archaeology, early medieval European archaeology, public money/public heritage, cave archaeology, archaeomalacology, zooarchaeology, sex roles and gender hierarchies in southwestern prehistory, Eurasian steppe cultures, preservation vs. reconstruction, burned rock studies, prehistoric quarries, chemical sourcing of ceramics, human response to natural disasters, and archaeology and volcanoes.

In addition, contributed papers and posters cover a wide range of regional, theoretical, and methodological topics. This will be an action-packed, highly diverse meeting, with lots of interesting sessions to attend!

The theme, "Celebrating National Commitments to Archaeology," will be the subject of the plenary session, organized by Don Fowler. The accomplishments of archaeological programs throughout the Americas will be discussed in this session, and it will be further augmented by a number of papers and symposia focusing on national programs in specific countries in the Americas. In addition, the SAA Committee on the Americas will hold a special symposium on protecting the archaeological heritage of the Americas. The opening session, organized by Kurt Dongoske, Roger Anyon, and Nina Swidler, focuses on relationships between archaeologists and Native Americans.

Major forums will cover such subjects as Washington politics and archaeology, pathways to successful public outreach programs, issues in paleoethnobotanical analysis, and agency theory in archaeology. The Student Affairs Committee is hosting workshops on ethics, designing a large field project, funding graduate school, the CRM hiring process, and mastering the curriculum vitae.

Appropriately enough, given our Nashville setting, the public session will examine southeastern archaeological themes such as the De Soto expedition, the mound builders, and cave archaeology, with presentations by Charles Hudson, Bruce Smith, and Patty Jo Watson. And again this year, organizations that have created exceptional posters to honor an archaeology week or month will be recognized. Watch for details about the poster contest in the next SAA Bulletin.

Roundtable luncheons will be held each day, allowing folks to meet and discuss topics of interest. Thursday and Friday luncheon themes will focus on a number of regional, methodological, and theoretical subjects, while on Saturday the Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology will sponsor luncheons addressing specific topics of concern to professional women in archaeology.

An array of local excursions is planned, including visits to the Hermitage, the fabled home of Andrew Jackson; the spectacular Middle Woodland Pinson mound group; the enigmatic Old Stone Fort; and Fort Negley, a Civil War site. In addition, the Grand Old Opry and Opryland Themepark are right next door, and plans call for a driving tour of downtown Nashville, including a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame, tour and shopping on Music Row, and luncheon in Centennial Park beneath a full-scale replica of the Parthenon! The setting for the meetings -- the Opryland Hotel -- will be particularly memorable for those attending, given its multi-acre enclosed gardens, fountains, waterways, and entertainment, restaurant, and bar venues.

Finally, for those interested in statistics, the following very preliminary figures give some indication about the character of the meeting. By region, Mesoamerica wins hands down, with more than 250 papers, followed by the American Southwest with just under 200. Almost 200 papers cover Old World themes, while more than 100 papers address southeastern United States archaeology. About 100 papers look at facets of South American archaeology, while between 50 and 100 papers each look at Plains/Far West and midwestern U.S./Canada archaeology themes.

So join us, and don't miss out on this valuable opportunity to take part in a lively and interesting meeting, both in and outside the technical sessions!

David G. Anderson is chair of the 1997 Annual Meeting Program Committee and Kevin Smith is chair of the local advisory committee.

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