WAC taskforces are:

Internet and Global Communications

Internet and Global Communications

Over the past few months, the WAC website has undergone a thorough review and redesign. More than just a cosmetic makeover, all of the content in the site has been scrutinized, and the overall user interface has been designed to be much more accessible and user friendly. Some of the key features include:

  • New server – The main site has been moved to a major web hosting company that provides substantial speed improvements, as well as offering many dynamic web tools we will implement over the next few months.
    Standardized and easy-to-use navigation – the content of every section and page of the WAC website is accessible using the navigation panel on the left side of each page.
    News updates – The top WAC news stories will be updated frequently and are selectable on every page in the site.
    Multi-lingual support – Due to the simplified and standardized code structure, the site is easily translatable to other languages. Initially, we are using Babelfish to offer translation, but over the coming months the site will be translated into as many languages as possible.
    Near term plans include:
  • Over the next three months – reengineering the underlying web architecture to comply with international accessibility and web standards, as well as to add dynamic content generation functions and improved user experiences. We will be calling for new links to WAC member sites, as well as taking your suggestions for improving the WAC site in order to serve the WAC community to the fullest extent possible.
  • Over the next year – add modules specific to the mission of WAC, such as localized content, multi-lingual translation, worldwide activities and interest groups, forums and other communications and sharing technologies, multimedia, etc.

This work has been conducted under the guidance of the Internet and Global Communications Task Force, chaired by Michael Ashley. We welcome the exceptional efforts of Timo Bishop, who has not only designed the new site, but has also accepted the role of web master for the next year.

We welcome your comments, corrections and suggestions as development continues. We look forward to creating an exceptional portal for all of WAC’s activities worldwide.

About the design team and task force

The mission of the Internet and Global Communications Task Force is to develop and maintain a digital framework that embodies the international and diverse interests of the WAC membership. We are committed to creating a dynamic, multi-lingual, content rich collection of web and communication tools brought together in a cohesive internet portal that is inviting and easy-to-use. Perhaps our most important task is to diligently act as stewards of the digital assets by developing strategies for long-term, sustainable data archiving. We invite your comments, suggestions and participation in crafting the WAC virtual community.

Task Force Members:

Michael Ashley (Chair) – email, tel. 510.501.8981
University of California, Berkeley
Program Developer, Center for Digital Scholarship, Office of the Chief Information Officer
Executive Director, Multimedia Authoring Center for Teaching in Anthropology (MACTiA) – visit online

Timo Bishop (Webmaster) – email

Graeme Earl, UK (Advisor) – email

Thomas Gaskar (Advisor) – email

Javier Comin, Argentina (Advisor, Translator, Web Logistics) – email

Isaac Bridle, Australia (Web Designer, Graphic Artist) – email

James King, Australia (Advisor) – email

David Horwitz, South Africa (Web Designer, Information Technologist) – email

Kathryn Denning, Canada (Advisor) – email


Heather Burke
David Frankel
Lynn Meskel
Anne Pyburn
Matt Schlitz
Sean Ulm
Jenny Webb
David Webb

– for providing many of the images used throughout this site.


World Archaeological Congress Publications

World Archaeological Congress Publications

Task Force Report, 1 December 2003

Members: George Okello Abungu, Cristobal Gnecco, Cornelius Holtorf, Alejandra Korstanje, Arkadiusz Marciniak, Naoko Matsuomo, Sven Ouzman, Joe Watkins, H. Martin Wobst, Larry J. Zimmerman (Chair)

Claire Smith charged the Publications Task Force to make recommendations for her to provide to the WAC Executive so that a WAC publications policy can be developed. The task force has had about two months to deliberate on the matter, which proved to be problematic at best. E-mail is not conducive to on-going discussion, and most members feel it deserves more. Hence, we feel that the Executive must find a way to ensure that discussion about WAC publications is on-going. WAC members generally agreed that due to the complexity of issues and differing opinions, the Executive should see all the significant e-mail from out discussions. Thus, as an appendix, all the e-mail is included, with only personal references and irrelevant material deleted.

After basic discussion, Zimmerman provided a draft report, which prompted further discussion. From that, six major points were extracted. These are presented as a report, with major matters of remaining discussion or disagreement added in parentheses and italics. The latter are summarized from e-mails, so Executive members are urged to look at the e-mails to get a more complete understanding of the issues.

Major issues that should guide WAC publications

1. WAC’s publications must be of the highest possible quality. The mechanisms to achieve this can be variable and multiple, from peer review (not necessarily anonymous) to selection of strong editorial teams and individuals. [One member feels that this statement is obvious or trivial, that no one would wish to produce poor publications {Holtorf}; another {Zimmerman} feels that it reaffirms WAC’s commitment to quality and also suggests that WAC should explore mechanisms to achieve this given that peer review has been perceived as a way to keep authors from some countries or regions, or with controversial viewpoints from getting published.]

2. Publications should include media beyond print, perhaps to include Web, CD-ROM, video, and other forms. [Holtorf generally agrees but does is concerned about some media, especially video, and whether WAC should be involved in its production and distribution.]

3. Selected publishers need not necessarily be large and profit-oriented. Rather, they should be selected on the basis of 1) quality, 2) how well they match WAC perspectives on archaeology (i.e. inclusiveness, accessibility of information, organizational goals, etc.), and 3) opportunities they offer to WAC that help WAC accomplish its goals. [There is general agreement about this point, but some minor disagreement from several task force members on what it may mean.]

4. WAC publications must be made as accessible as possible, including distribution of free copies, keeping prices low, and use of non-print media. This is more important than any funds WAC might realize from sales. [There seems to be strong agreement that electronic publication, especially the web, may help with issues of distribution. Mechanisms can be complex and can cause problems for publishers of hard copy materials by harming their sales.]

5. Language is a key issue. WAC and its publishers must do everything possible to offer translations of its publications. This will be difficult and costly, but must be attempted . [Several members including Marciniak, Matsumoto, and Holtorf have pointed out that there are questions about which languages get selected and how this may cause ill will. Marciniak and Matsumoto suggest that all non-English materials be translated into English so that authors from these countries will have their work distributed to, and recognized by, scholars from other countries.]

6. WAC’s constituencies/stakeholders include more than archaeologists. WAC should consider creating publications for its many publics. [There has been agreement that WAC needs to address the interest and concerns of non-archaeologists, from members of descendant communities to interested members of the general public. There is also agreement that the task is not easy, but should be attempted. See discussion for more detail.]

7. The Executive must continually evaluate WAC publishing for its effectiveness in helping WAC to meet its goals. [Task Force members feel very strongly that evaluation of WAC publication policies must be ongoing. Several have offered to serve, if the Executive wishes to create a publications standing committee.]

Final Comments

WAC publications will continue to grow in complexity, and because of that, there is potential for substantial disagreement between WAC members. The major mechanism by which this can be controlled and minimized is to continually evaluate whether WACs publications are serving the organization well, or at least, as intended. We urge the Executive to develop a standing publications committee and to make both the committee’s and Executive’s deliberations about publications as transparent as reasonable and possible.

Click here to download the complete report


Archaeologists and War

Archaeologists and War

Yannis Hamilakis (Chair)

The aim of this Taskforce is to investigate the role of archaeologists in situations of armed conflict around the world, and explore the ethical dilemmas and the social and political consequences and effects arising from that involvement. More specifically this Taskforce will investigate the following questions:

1) Should WAC members and archaeologists in general collaborate with the military in situations of armed conflict, especially when international law is being violated?

2) Does the need to rescue archaeological monuments, sites and artefacts in situations of armed conflict, override any other concern and responsibility for archaeologists?

3) Is our primary ethical responsibility in these cases to rescue the archaeological monuments and sites, and how can we reconcile that responsibility with the ethical concern over the legality and morality of the conflict, and its effects on the present and future of the people concerned?

As its starting point, this Taskforce will explore these questions by looking at archaeological involvement in two current cases, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the pre-emptive invasion and occupation of Iraq by the current USA and UK administrations and their allies.


Space Heritage

Space Heritage

WAC recognises that the material culture and places associated with space exploration are significant at individual, local, organisational, national and international levels. As space industries and eventual space colonisation develop in the 21st century, it is necessary to consider what and how elements of this cultural heritage should be preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.

The material culture of space exploration extends from the surface of the Earth to beyond the Solar System. In astronomy and rocketry its beginnings date from well before the Second World War. Sites, places and objects related to space exploration include research and development sites; launch facilities and tracking stations on Earth; satellites and so-called space junk in orbit round Earth; spacecraft and space debris in orbit around other bodies in the Solar System; landing and crash sites on the Moon, Mars, Venus, a small selection of asteroids and soon some of the moons of the outer planets, as well as both space and Earth-based telescopes and associated equipment and infrastructure.

As a basis for effective management, the significance of the material culture of space exploration must be understood. The Task Force will:

  • Identify themes relating to space exploration with specific reference to the impact of space exploration on non-spacefaring nations, developing countries and Indigenous peoples;
  • Investigate ways of assessing significance at individual, local, organisational, national and international levels.

Some sites, places and objects may have significance far beyond the local or national level. The Task Force will:

  • Identify examples of such places, sites and objects that have exceptional cultural heritage value and whose preservation will benefit all humankind;
  • Investigate avenues for preservation within existing structures, for example, the World Heritage Convention;
  • Propose a set of cultural, historical, social and scientific criteria for preserving space heritage places of exceptional cultural heritage value.

The cooperation of international space agencies, national space agencies, the aerospace industry and the principal astronomical and astronautical associations is an essential part in ensuring the appropriate management of the cultural heritage of space exploration. The Task Force will:

  • Identify relevant international and national organisations;
  • Lobby relevant international and national bodies to ensure participation in preservation efforts;
  • Explore avenues for raising sufficient funds for the preservation and where feasible conservation of at least a selection of space heritage places, sites and objects deemed of greater or exceptional significance.

The Space Heritage Task Force will present an interim report at the next WAC Inter-Congress conference.

A.C. Gorman and J.B. Campbell, November 2003