November 29, 2004

Archaeologists Gather for Piece of History

MORE than 100 people dedicated to digging up the past will attend the New Zealand Archaeological Association's (NZAA) national conference in New Plymouth this week.

The event celebrates the 50th anniversary of the association's beginnings said Harry Allen, Associate Professor of anthropology at Auckland University.

Retired and distinguished professors Jack Golson (Australia), Roger Green (Auckland) and Peter Gathercole (former master of Darwin College at Cambridge University) are among the foundation members attending.

The week's programme starts today with a field trip from Auckland to New Plymouth, led by Nigel Prickett, a specialist in the military history of Taranaki.

On Friday, Puke Ariki's Kelvin Day leads a field trip to the lesser-known sites of Taranaki.

"In between, we will hear papers from the old fogies and the young Turks," Mr Allen said.

The public could also attend some lectures at the TSB Showplace, where the conference was being held.

Tomorrow night's keynote speaker is American Brian Fagan, a well- known writer who helps popularise archaeological discoveries.

On Wednesday, from 2pm to 4pm, people can hear about north Taranaki's big digs, including the Bell Block site, Waipapa- Pohokura and the places where wooden artefacts had been discovered.

Mr Allen said archaeologists delved into the past by digging up material remains and working out the whos, hows, whens and whys of what they found.

"We try to determine human behaviour in material terms," he said.