Updated: Apr 3
April 1st 2023
Written by: Levi Mymko
Today was day 3 (Friday) of the 2023 SAA Conference in Portland, OR. I was very tired today, and the weather was grey and windy and not too inspiring. I mostly stumbled around in a daze, but here’s my hot take on the conference in general thus far.
There are a lot of people and a lot of things going on at once. The event takes place at the conference centre which is a great building, very spacious. There are symposiums, poster sessions and forums from 8-4; symposiums are 2-3 hours long and consist of folks presenting their research for 15 minutes each. Some of them have a power point and are interesting and intriguing, and some are people reading off their computers for 15 minutes, which can either be boring or surprisingly good. Poster sessions are in a large room with rows of corkboards where people stand beside the poster of their work, ready to explain their research. This is pretty fun, and all you have to do is go and look at a poster, look at the person, and they will tell you all about it, which is a great way to see what people are up to, and you can meet some nice people as well! There were also two sniffer dog booths complete with puppers trained in locating archaeological human remains! Lastly, The forums consist of a panel of folks who share their thoughts and experience on a topic. I went to one on pseudoarchaeology yesterday, and it was excellent.
We also went to a diversity meetup, which was fun and loud and awkward, but there was coffee and snacks. I am a white person, so I was mostly there to hang out with my ‘diverse’ friends. Some events are very socialization-heavy and can be intense, but you can always leave and go do something else at any time. People are so friendly, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation. We are all there for the same reason. Archaeology!
It all feels quite comfortable, and it’s not intimidating or awkward, as everybody is a big archaeology nerd of some kind, but it’s not pretentious; a lot of smart and curious people of all ages and many disciplines. Also, the food trucks have some great food outside for lunch.
If I can give any advice, it’s to try not to get stressed out or too disappointed if you feel like you missed anything. You can probably roll into something random and be pleasantly surprised at what you find, so try not to be too attached to making it to everything you want to see – it’s not possible. Oh, and bring a backpack with snacks and water, and make some new friends!