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Chacmool 50: The Past, Present, and Future of Archaeology

Photos courtesy Anthony Hawboldt and Kelsey Pennanen. 

By Geoffrey McCafferty and Kelsey Pennanen.
Monday, November 20, 2017

By all accounts the 50th anniversary conference of the Chacmool Archaeological Society was a rousing success. This was one the best-attended Chacmool conferences with over 300 participants over the five days. Participants represented over 100 institutions from 10 countries around the world. More than 50 of the participants were alumni of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calgary. Many of these alumni were organizers in past Chacmool conferences over the years. We are so pleased that they could be with us to celebrate the continued success of the Chacmool legacy.  These ‘chacmool veterans’ -or ‘chacmooligans’ helped create the “Age of Chacmool” that Rosemary Joyce described in her keynote speech.  The 50-year anniversary was also highlighted with the presence of the first Chacmool President Michael Wilson and the current president Brendan Jenks. 

Nearly 200 presentations covered a diverse range of topics: Western Canadian archaeology, Central America, new technologies, archaeological activism, Mesoamerican art and archaeology, urban commerce, costume and identity, radical theory, and repatriation among the many themes. A full day session considered the legacy of the University of Calgary’s archaeology program, including the Chacmool conference, with some of the original Chacmooligans in attendance. Plenary speakers Roland Fletcher, George Nicholas, and Joanne Pillsbury spoke on cutting edge directions for archaeological practice, and banquet speaker Rosemary Joyce discussed the importance of inclusion within research programs. An additional highlight of the conference was the social activities, in which Calgary students had the opportunity to mix and mingle with the visiting dignitaries.          

The Chacmool conference was generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts, the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, and the archaeological consulting community.           

Special thanks to members of the Chacmool organizing committee, the Chacmool executive, and the dozens of students who worked as volunteers to make the conference a success. The Chacmool conference offers a unique opportunity for our undergraduate and graduate students to engage with professional archaeologists – both within academia and the consulting world – to enhance their own education as well as advance in the discipline. This was amply demonstrated by the many Chacmool veterans who returned for the conference to share their memories and experiences with the next generation of Calgary archaeologists.