Let’s come out with it at the beginning. The archaeological presentations at the Annual Meetinga were, by and large, lackluster. There were notable exceptions, of course (some of which will be mentioned anon), but for the most part it was like counting grains of sand on some ancient beach.
One person obviously cannot attend more than a small fraction of the hundreds of presentations at the yearly bash, but our judgment of the overall effect seemed to be widely shared by the many people we talked to. Among them was Joe Seger of the Cobb Institute of Archaeology at Mississippi State University and director of the excavation at Tell Halif in Israel, who suggested that perhaps the dullness was because less was coming out of the ground, or perhaps because archaeologists were recently engaging in more specialized studies.
Barry Gittlen of Baltimore Hebrew University, the new archaeological program chairman, claims he has many new ideas in the works, but is not yet prepared to announce them. One innovation he was willing to discuss was an increased emphasis on program units planned around a theme. Examples at this year’s meeting were a session concerning the emergence of the Phoenicians and another dealing with the pig in Palestine.