International Conference, October 2012
BOAT 1550 BC: Travel, exchange and communication in Europe from the fourth to the beginning of the first millennium BC
International Conference, Boulogne-sur-Mer, espace Saint Louis, 3–5 October 2012
The Dover boat, discovered in 1992, was a highly sophisticated means of transport and at the same time a symbol par excellence of the connections between people on either side of the Channel during the Bronze Age.
The distribution of archaeological finds and the similarities between these different shores maps out these connections in both time and space.
The identity that seems to emerge from the archaeological study of the coastal areas of the English Channel and southern North Sea puts into question a long established view: that the sea 3,500 years ago was not a frontier, defined by a natural barrier, but simply the means of exchange between two halves of one entity.
But where was the frontier? And how can we identify it from archaeological data? In addition, how and why did people take the route across the sea? What were the implications of these exchanges for society? What complex links can we see resulting from these contacts relating to the creation and evolution of cultural groups? These are some of the many questions raised by the archaeology of the Transmanche region at the time of the Dover boat, put into perspective with other places and other periods.
Human mobility was not a novelty in the middle of the second millennium BC, far from it. The circulation of people, ideas and products was a long-standing reality, predating the settlements of the Neolithic. The topic raises questions about the types of transport employed, the motivation for these voyages and the scale of movement, from local to long-distance. Lastly, it seems difficult to address these issues without thinking about the methodologies used by archaeologists seeking to chart the reality of travel, exchange and the boundaries between pre-literate societies.
The conference will consist of three sessions focussing on three spatial and methodological areas.
I. Movement and identity in the Transmanche Zone
This first session will highlight results at a regional scale. New discoveries over the last twenty years has allowed a different perspective of the English Channel/North Sea area. This session will give concentrate on synthetic presentations of this work both in terms of content and the methodological contributions to the themes of the conference.
II. Travel and exchange
The second session will open the spatial scale to discuss and debate the reality of an ‘English Channel/North Sea’ cultural group. It will also address questions about the people involved, the technology used and the motivations for these voyages. Data on the speed of movement of people or the dissemination of ideas and knowledge can also be considered within this context.
III. Identity and landscape
This session will aim to address the question ‘in what ways did natural constraints (seas, mountains, broad plains, etc.) determine the creation of social identities, if at all?’. The link between geography/determinism and archaeology/culture will be examined here. Proposals may include a wide variety of examples and theoretical models of study to address such questions based solely on archaeological data.
The international conference at Boulogne-sur-Mer will attempt to answer some these issues in the context of Europe from the further to the beginning of the first millennium BC. This APRAB conference forms part of the European Interreg IVA ‘2 seas’ project ‘BOAT 1550 BC’.
The themes of the conference will revisit these questions and combine synthetic and theoretical approaches along with the results of recent excavations to throw new light on the subject.
Call for papers
A call for papers is open until 30th April 2012. Please send your proposed title together with an abstract by e-mail to:
Or by surface mail to:
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