Having attended the annual meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) and the Society of Biblical Literature in November,a I was in an excellent position, I thought, to compare this year’s annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), which was held in Philadelphia in January. The best I can say for the AIA meeting, however, is that it was largely unexciting.
Perhaps I just attended the wrong sessions. But there were a few tip-offs: Sessions started at 9:00 and ended at 4:00, with no evening plenary sessions. Most of the speakers were limited to 15 minutes, sometimes 10. There’s not much you can say in that time, but it may be enough for a narrow topic like “Archaic and Classical Predecessors to Hellenistic Monumental Steps” or “When Is a Stone or a Stone Cairn a Herm? Methods of Defining Territorial Boundaries in the Peloponnese.” These are important, if narrow, subjects; but the meeting should feature broader, overall treatments.